Summer Ball Preview: Cape Cod, Ripken leagues full of Terps

Maryland’s 2017 campaign is officially over, and many current and future Terps are heading to different parts of the country to begin their summer ball seasons. Maryland is well-represented locally in the Cal Ripken League (17 players) as well as up in the Cape Cod League, where four Terps are under contract to spend the summer.  Here’s a look at the various summer ball assignments.

Second baseman Nick Dunn is back for a second year with the CCBL’s Brewster Whitecaps, after earning All-Star honors last summer. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Nick Dunn returns to the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps for a second season. The Terps’ second baseman spent the 2016 summer there and hit .311 with eight doubles en route to CCBL All-Star honors. Dunn endured a sophomore slump average-wise for the Terps this year, hitting just .261, but found his power stroke, notching 13 doubles and five homers, including two in postseason play. He’ll be joined in Brewster this summer by outfielder Marty Costes, who is coming off a spectacular 2017 season in which he hit .322 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team.

Across the Cape, Tyler Blohm will pitch for the Falmouth Commodores. The southpaw was a fixture in the Maryland starting rotation this season, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after leading the conference with eight wins while posting a 3.48 ERA in 75 innings of work. Right-hander Hunter Parsons will follow in shortstop Kevin Smith’s footsteps as a member of the Cape’s defending champion Y-D Red Sox this summer. Parsons had a down year in 2017, pitching to a 12.05 ERA between the bullpen and rotation, but had a fine freshman season and was named Cal Ripken League Pitcher of the Year last summer. 

John Murphy, one of Maryland’s most reliable relievers this season, returns to the Bethesda Big Train of the Ripken League this summer. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Closer to home, the Cal Ripken League is full of Terps. Catcher Justin Morris and right-hander John Murphy return to the Bethesda Big Train after helping them bring home a league championship in 2016. Morris, who solidified himself as the Terps’ starting catcher this season, hit just .211, but finished the season hot, hitting three homers and driving in nine runs over his last 14 games. Murphy emerged as one of the Terps’ go-to relievers, posting a team-best 1.71 ERA over 31.2 innings, which included several Houdini-esque efforts to work out of jams in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

Murphy and Morris will be joined in Bethesda by Zach Jancarski, Ryan Hill and Zach Guth. Jancarski emerged as one of Maryland’s better offensive weapons this year as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, batting .325 while leading the team with 17 doubles and 20 steals. Hill, like Murphy, became one of Coach John Szefc’s favorite relievers, leading Maryland pitchers with 29 total appearances, and posting a 10.7 K/9 despite a lofty 5.01 ERA. Guth, a left-handed pitcher, did not appear for the Terps this season.

Elsewhere in the Ripken League, the Baltimore Redbirds also have a plethora of Terps, highlighted by 2017 standouts AJ Lee and Jamal Wade. Lee solidified himself as the starting third baseman this season, hitting .307 with eight homers and 15 stolen bases en route to Third Team All-Big Ten honors. Wade, who transitioned from the outfield to the mound this season, enjoyed success as a right-handed flamethrower, striking out 33 in just 19.2 innings of work out of the bullpen. Left-hander Jon Dignazio and right-hander Mike Vasturia did not see much action as freshmen this season, but strong showings with the Redbirds this summer could prime them for bigger roles on the Maryland pitching staff next year. Randy Bednar, an incoming freshman from Bethesda’s Landon School, will play the outfield for Baltimore ahead of his first year at Maryland.

Louisiana native Will Watson is staying in the D.C. area this summer to play with the Silver Spring Thunderbolts. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Closer to College Park, Will Watson headlines four Terps that will take the field for the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts this summer. Watson hit .253 with five homers, 33 walks and 14 stolen bases in his first year with Maryland after transferring in from LSU Eunice. Catcher Ty Friedrich, who returns to Silver Spring for a second season, did not see the field for the Terps this year as a freshman, but hit .351 in 13 games for the T-Bolts a year ago. With Nick Cieri’s departure, Friedrich is primed for a bigger role in Maryland’s catching rotation next year. A pair of incoming freshmen – Richie Schiekofer and Tommy Gardiner – join Watson and Friedrich on the T-Bolts.

Catcher Justin Vought, an incoming freshman, will also play in the Ripken League with the Alexandria Aces, while right-handers Nick Pantos and Elliot Zoellner join the Gaithersburg Giants.

Cameron Enck, who set a Perfect Game League record with a 0.39 ERA last summer, has signed on with the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The right-hander pitched just six innings this season for the Terps.

In the Perfect Game League, catcher Danny Maynard returns for a second season with the Amsterdam Mohawks. He struggled with the Mohawks a year ago, but has hit well in his two seasons with the Terps, including a .259/.353/.424 slash line in 85 at-bats this season.

First baseman Kevin Biondic will head to Canada to join the Northwoods League’s Thunder Bay Border Cats this summer. Biondic put together a strong sophomore campaign in 2016, but struggled in limited playing time this season, hitting just .161 while seeing most of his action as a late-inning defensive replacement.