MLB Draft Preview: 2018

The Maryland baseball season is over, but the 2018 MLB Draft is just around the corner. Six Terps were selected in last year’s draft, including Kevin Smith and Brian Shaffer who were both taken in the first six rounds.

The draft will take place from Monday, June 4 through Wednesday, June 6. This year, Maryland has 14  players currently on the roster who are eligible for selection. Here, we’ll give a quick synopsis of each player.

Nick Dunn – 2B

Ht: 5’10″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 212    Slash Line: .330/.419/.561     HR10       RBI39     K: 19      BB: 32

Dunn proved why he’s among the most highly-touted second basemen in the country this season, increasing his power without showing any dip in his average. His 19 strikeouts were the fewest of Maryland’s starters and his 10 home runs were the most on the team. From start to finish, Dunn was the most consistent hitter in the Terps’ batting order. He also earned first team All-Big Ten honors.

In his three years at Maryland, Dunn hasn’t missed a single game and has started in all 172 contests. He’s never finished a season with more strikeouts than walks and, after hitting six home runs in his first two seasons, mashed 10 in his junior season. He became the 13th player in program history to reach 200 career hits this season, and he did so in only three years.

After earning playoff co-MVP honors in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, Dunn let his success follow him back to College Park. Dunn is ranked the 174th-best prospect heading into the draft by MLB Pipeline. His offensive ability makes him the clear first Maryland selection in the draft next week.

Marty Costes – OF

Ht: 5’9″        Wt: 200        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 50     AB: 179    Slash Line: .235/.382/.374     HR: 6       RBI31     K: 34      BB: 34

It took Costes a while to get into a grove during his junior season, taking a step back from his breakout sophomore campaign a year ago. He still managed to finish second on the team in RBIs and, like Dunn, didn’t strike out more than he walked. On the base paths, Costes was 10-for-12 on steal attempts. He also led the Maryland outfield with nine assists, boasting one of the strongest arms in the conference.

Costes emerged quickly as a talented freshman two seasons ago, hitting nine home runs en route to an All-Big Ten freshman team selection. He hit .322 with 13 home runs last season, helping him toward a 25th-round section by the Houston Astros as a draft eligible sophomore. He was also on the conference’s first team.

While Costes’ numbers are lower than what they were last year, there’s no reason to believe a major league team won’t draft him for the second year in a row. Costes began to heat up down the stretch, hitting the ball well for the last month of the season. His fielding has improved since his freshman season, and while he had an up-and-down junior year at the plate, his previous success indicates his potential in a professional system.

Hunter Parsons – RHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 200        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 15 (13 GS)  IP: 89.0    ERA: 3.44     K/9: 6.3       BB/9: 2.7     H/9: 7.4

The emergence of Hunter Parsons was arguably the biggest success story of the Maryland baseball season. After one rough start to begin the season, Parsons fixed issues to become the most consistent weekend arm for the rest of the year. Parsons improved significantly under first-year pitching coach Corey Muscara, becoming the Friday night starter by the end of the season. He led the staff in innings pitched, holding opponents to a .225 average.

Parsons showed promise with a 3.50 ERA in 15 appearances as a freshman, but that potential went unharvested in his second season. The right-hander only pitched 21.2 innings as a sophomore while he struggled, but turned it all around this year. He pitched two complete games, including a two-hit shutout against Stetson, who will host a regional in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Parsons’ confidence increased with Muscara as his pitching coach. After he felt he was “lolly-gagging” during his first start of the season, Parsons sped up his pace. Wasting little time, he began receiving the ball from his catcher and quickly getting set to fire the next pitch. That mentality, and by changing his grip on his two-seam fastball, led to impressive performances nearly every weekend of the season. As the season progressed, the junior likely garnered more attention and was put onto teams’ radars.

AJ Lee – SS

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 203    Slash Line: .232/.375/.296     HR: 1       RBI18    K:  51     BB: 36

After spending his first two seasons in College Park at third base, Lee transitioned into the team’s shortstop to replace Kevin Smith. With big shoes to fill, Lee had some cold stretches both at the plate and in the field this season. He was still one of three players to play and start in all 54 games for the Terps in 2018. While his average decreased from a season ago, he walked a team-high 36 times and was hit by 11 pitches to maintain a high on-base percentage.

Lee played in 19 games as a freshman with nine starts, but struggled at the plate with a sub-.200 average. As a sophomore, though, Lee really emerged as the everyday starting third baseman. He had an incredibly hot end of last season, increasing his batting average to over .300. He finished with eight home runs as a sophomore, trailing just Smith and Costes for the team lead.

Like Costes, his sophomore season was much better than the one he just concluded. His offensive production decreased, while his transition to shortstop wasn’t always smooth. However, Lee’s sophomore campaign showed he’s capable of providing a hot bat, clean defense and speed on the base paths. This could be the second consecutive year a Maryland shortstop is drafted, as Smith was selected in the fourth round in 2017.

John Murphy – RHP

Ht: 6’4″        Wt: 245       Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 23 (0 GS)  IP: 25.1    ERA: 4.26     K/9: 13.1       BB/9: 7.5     H/9: 6.4

Murphy served as the team’s closer, finishing this season with a team-high four saves. He led the team in appearances and pitched the second-most innings out of the bullpen. He began the year strong, working with Kevin Biondic to form a strong tandem in the back-end of games. He struggled with confidence and location down the stretch, letting an influx of walks hurt him at times. He still held hitters to a .196 average and earned plenty of swings and misses.

Like many freshman, Murphy began his career with growing pains. He pitched just 11 innings and had an ERA just below 10.00 as a freshman. But his sophomore year highlighted his potential, finishing with a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings. He held hitters to a .183 average and walked just eight batters the entire season. He shined in the season’s biggest games in 2017, escaping multiple bases-loaded jams in Maryland’s postseason run.

Murphy’s lack of control toward the end of the 2018 season was concerning, but the junior has shown in three seasons he can be dominant when he’s in control. In each of the last two years, he’s held hitters below a .200 batting average. He turned into quite the strikeout pitcher, setting down 37 batters on strikes in just over 25 innings. He had a sub-3.00 ERA for most of the season, so if he can hone in on commanding his pitches and limiting walks, Murphy could certainly replicate his sophomore numbers in the future.

Taylor Wright – 3B

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 180        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 47     AB: 165    Slash Line: .230/.319/.333     HR: 2       RBI: 25     K: 34      BB: 19

In his first season with Maryland, Wright played in 47 games as the primary third baseman. A Canada native, Wright transferred from Colorado Northwestern Community College to help fill a void in Maryland’s infield. He accounted for Maryland’s only walk-off win of the season, drawing a game-winning walk in the 10th inning against Northwestern.

Never shying away from laying down a bunt, Wright also showed a little power down the stretch with two home runs. His bat got hot in the last several weekends, accumulating a good portion of his RBIs in the final month of the season. He was also one of four Terps with double-digit stolen bases.

If Wright isn’t taken, he could be a huge piece of a Maryland infield next year that might wind up losing three-fourths of its starters. If Wright can improve his average — something he showed in the last couple weeks of the year — then he could be a leader in both the field and in the middle of the batting order in 2019.

Brad Barnett – INF

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 5     AB: 7    Slash Line: .143/.455/.143     HR: 0       RBI1     K: 2      BB: 4

Barnett didn’t see game action at TCU as a freshman, but he hit .203 in 26 games at Grayson College last year. After transferring to Maryland, the infielder played in just six games this season. He did earn two starts as head coach Rob Vaughn tried a carousel of designated hitters throughout the year. In a start against James Madison, Barnett helped spark an extra-innings win by going 1-for-2 at the plate with a pair of walks.

Because Biondic is graduating, and Dunn and Lee might leave pending the draft results, there could be competition open to fills their spots. The infield positions were locked up for the entirety of this season, so Barnett could fight for more playing time in the offseason between returning players and the incoming freshman class.

Taylor Bloom – RHP

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 195        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 12 (11 GS)  IP: 79.1    ERA: 4.99     K/9: 5.7       BB/9: 3.1     H/9: 9.4

Bloom began the season replacing Brian Shaffer’s vacated Friday night role, filling it effectively for the first half of the season. But after a freaky concussion late in the season, Bloom finished the year swapping between Saturday and Sunday starts. He pitched at least seven innings in a majority of his outings, helping rest the bullpen for the remainder of the weekends.

Bloom made an immediate impact upon his arrival to College Park. He appeared in 15 games as a freshman, including a 6.1-inning start against UCLA in the NCAA Regionals. Since then, Bloom has been a consistent weekend starter for the last three seasons. In 102.1 innings as a sophomore, his 2.46 ERA was fourth-best in the conference and he issued just nine walks the entire year.

In his last start, Bloom became just the second Maryland pitcher to eclipse 300 career innings. It was a fitting ending to a career filled with lengthy and gutsy starts from the right-hander. His fastball pitch won’t touch the 90s, but his success stems from changing hitters’ eye levels and using a slow off-speed pitch that produces ugly swings. Bloom was not taken in last year’s draft, but could receive late-round consideration from teams this year.

Zach Jancarski – CF

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 185        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 201   Slash Line: .279/.378/.453     HR: 7       RBI: 29     K: 48      BB: 24

Recently nicknamed “Mr. SportsCenter,” Jancarski appeared on the television show’s Top 10 plays three different times this season for his jaw-dropping catches in centerfield. While known for his speed and defense, Jancarski finished with another respectable season at the plate. His average dropped from his junior season, but he outmatched his home run total from his first three seasons in his senior campaign alone.

Jancarski played and started every game in the last two seasons for the Terps. He appeared in 28 games as a freshman before playing in at least 46 for each of the last three years. His junior campaign was his most successful season, though, boasting a .325 average at the plate and a team-leading 17 doubles and 20 stolen bases. His most memorable offensive moment was a game-tying solo homer against Penn State at home, one pitch before former Terp Brandon Gum walked off with a shot of his own.

Jancarski wasn’t drafted last year following his best collegiate season, but his fielding has continued to steadily improve. He’s admitted to running poor routes on fly balls early in his career, but has turned that around to become a outfielder with an incredible amount of range. He also committed just two errors in his four-year career. He’s obviously quick on the bases and in the field, but he showed late into this year that he had some power left in him, too.

Justin Morris – C

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 215        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 43     AB: 130    Slash Line: .208/.329/.292     HR: 1       RBI: 14    K: 38      BB: 20

For the past few seasons now, Morris has been thrown into a battle for the starting catching role and each time the Maryland native has come out on top by the end of the year. He split some time with freshman Justin Vought in 2018, but Morris finished his four-year career as the primary catcher. He threw out a team-high nine base runners as a reliable player behind the dish.

Morris started in 129 games in his career, working closely with right-hander Taylor Bloom over the course of their careers. While he never hit for a high average, Morris always seemed to end the season trending upward. As a junior, Morris got hot just in time for the postseason, finishing the year with a career-high five homers. He hit just above .200 this season, but helped lead a spark down the stretch to finish his career strong.

He wasn’t drafted last season as a junior, but was selected in the 35th round out of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Morris showed flashes strong offensive production once May came around, but was never able to stretch success out for an entire season. His defense has been trustworthy, and he’s helped Vought get ready to potentially take over the role for the remainder of his time at Maryland.

Kevin Biondic – 1B/RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 215        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 53     AB: 201    Slash Line: .279/.369/.463     HR: 6       RBI: 27    K: 55      BB: 24

G: 18 (0 GS)  IP: 24.1    ERA: 2.59     K/9: 10.0       BB/9: 3.0     H/9: 6.3

Biondic’s senior season highlighted a career of perserverense. After losing his starting role as a junior, Biondic reclaimed his position at first base this year. Not only did he play in 53 games — missing just one due to his Chicago Police Academy entrance exam — he transitioned into a two-way player. After picking up pitching in the offseason, Biondic turned into one of the more reliable arms out of the bullpen. He hit a career-high six homers and struck out more than one batter per inning on the mound.

The Illinois native played in 99 games in his first two seasons, receiving every start in Maryland’s NCAA Super Regional run in 2014. When Brandon Gum arrived as a graduate transfer in 2017, Biondic started just 16 times as a junior. His offensive numbers this season were pretty similar to his sophomore year stats, but his lockdown defense and versatility on the mound made him much more valuable.

Biondic earned All-Big Ten second team honors as a utility player this season, turning into a successful hitter and pitcher. He went from toying around with a knuckleball to using it to strike out the final batter of his career. Just a season ago, former Terrapin Jamal Wade — another first-year pitcher — was drafted by the Seattle Mariners. He made just seven errors in four years and produced at the plate in big times this season. He’s had a goal of joining the police force, so no matter how the draft plays out, Biondic will continue pursuing something he enjoys doing.

Will Watson – OF

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 190        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 41     AB: 130    Slash Line: .254/.369/.431     HR: 6       RBI: 25    K: 37      BB: 17

Other than Dunn, Will Watson was the hottest Maryland hitter by the end of this season. If it weren’t for him, Maryland wouldn’t have been in position to have a chance at qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament heading into the final series of the year. He received starts in left field and at designated hitter. Against Rutgers, he tied NCAA records with two home runs and seven RBIs in one inning.

Watson is now the second player in recent history to finish their careers in College Park after transferring from LSU-Eunice. Madison Nickens graduated last year, and now Watson has done the same after playing in 98 games in two seasons. He finished his Maryland career with nine homers and 55 RBIs, sparking Maryland’s late push that fell just short of a postseason berth this season.

Maybe not the flashiest outfielder, Watson still provided solid defense when he played in left field during his time at Maryland. His progress showed most when he made a diving catch to save a game against Northwestern this season. His batting average never climbed too high, but he got on base often. When he reached base, he was 22-for-24 on stolen base attempts in two seasons.

Ryan Hill – RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 235        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 9 (0 GS)  IP: 12.1    ERA: 2.92     K/9: 10.2       BB/9: 5.8     H/9: 9.5

Hill missed the majority of his senior season struggling with eligibility issues, but once he returned, he performed well despite the lack of preparation for game action. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen, striking out more than a batter per inning. He did struggle with command at times, racking up walks, but that likely stemmed from not getting much time to get into a groove during the season.

The Texas native spent two years at Grayson Community College before transferring to Maryland for his junior year. He immediately made an impact, notching the most appearances (29) of any Terps pitcher last season. His 46.1 innings were also the most of any bullpen arm. He was a stud for Grayson in two seasons, and had it not been for missing most of year, Hill could’ve replicated prior success during his senior year in College Park.

Hill showed signs over his two years at Maryland of being a really effective arm out of the bullpen, but his lack of workload at the Division I level might make it tough for him to be taken in the draft. He tossed just 12.1 innings his senior year and while he pitched a ton as a junior, his 5.01 ERA wasn’t that strong. He also handed out a few too many free passes; he walked or hit 30 batters in 46 innings in 2017 and eight in just 12 innings in 2018.

Alec Touhy – RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 195        Year: RSr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 11 (1 GS)  IP: 12.1    ERA: 11.68     K/9: 7.3       BB/9: 6.6     H/9: 15.3

After the University of Buffalo’s baseball program disbanded after the 2017 season, Tuohy transferred to Maryland for his final year of eligibility. Once a really successful collegiate weekend starter, Tuohy never got his footing in College Park. He began this season injured and once he was healthy enough to throw, the results didn’t come back positively.

He made 11 appearances and even notched a midweek start in the middle of the season, but conceded too many runs to earn more outings. He struck out a fair amount of hitters for the amount of work he received, but teams hit .375 against him and walked 6.6 times per nine innings to rough up the redshirt senior.

Nick Decker, Jack Herman – Class of 2018 Commits 

Maryland’s incoming freshman class is ranked No. 23 in the country, according to Perfect Game. Among the 15 commits, Decker and Herman are the two most likely to be selected out of high school in the draft.

Decker, an outfielder from Southhampton, New Jersey, is the 74th-best draft prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is predicted to be drafted so high that’ll it be tough to see him in a Maryland uniform next year. Herman, an outfielder from Berlin, New Jersey, could also be selected at some point, but potentially not high enough to justify not joining the Terps in College Park.