Preseason Countdown #5: Infield preview

We have entered the latter half of the preseason countdown, and this time we’re previewing the Terps infielders. While the veteran experience in the group is there with the likes of Maxwell Costes, Justin Vought, and Tommy Gardiner, a majority of the infielders are either freshmen or sophomores who were given very little playing time last season due to the short season. Overall, the mix of old and young has plenty of potential, so without any further delay, here is the Terps infield corp for the 2021 season:

Catcher – Riley Langerman (Junior)

Coming in as Maryland’s only transfer for the 2021 season, Langerman brings much-needed veteran experience behind the plate to pair with the senior Justin Vought as three of Maryland’s catchers have yet to play in a game. Langerman transferred from a junior college program at Ventura College in California, where he hit .280/.348/.366 in 20 games during a 2020 season that got cut short.

Catcher – Blake Badman (Freshman)

Badman is the first of two freshmen to be featured among the Terps’ catchers, and he has some very high praise backing him up. A Maryland native, Perfect Game ranked him as the state’s second-best catcher recruit, and the fourth-best recruit out of Maryland overall. During his high school career at DeMatha Catholic, Badman hit .412 with a .667 slugging percentage.

Catcher – Justin Vought (Senior)

The veteran backstop is back for his final season at Maryland after the short 2020 season was cut even shorter, as Vought suffered a hip injury at the end of February. In the seven games he did play, he slashed .190/.452/.190 and collected three RBI. The performance is far from the above-average offensive output he displayed in 2019, where his on-base plus slugging percentage was .786 while hitting ten home runs.

Catcher – Luke Shliger (Freshman)

The second freshman catcher hails from Connecticut, where Perfect Game ranks him as the best catcher recruit in the state. Shliger spent his last high school season hitting at a .489 clip with five home runs and 20 RBI, earning him the honor of First Team All-Founders League.

Catcher – James Heffley (Sophomore)

Heffley is entering his second season at Maryland, but the sophomore has yet to make an appearance on the diamond as a Terp. With somewhat of a logjam at the catcher position this season, he still may have trouble finding some playing time.

First Baseman – Maxwell Costes (Junior)

Coming off an incredible sophomore campaign, albeit only 15 games, Maxwell Costes comes into his junior year with tons of preseason hype. Costes finished the brief 2020 season slashing .432/.620/.750 and with four home runs, his 1.370 OPS being tops in the Big Ten. With seven preseason honors, Costes was among the 55 names mentioned on the 2021 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list. He’ll surely be the driving force of this Maryland team as he continues to establish his name among the best in college baseball.

Second Baseman – Aaron Perez (Sophomore)

Aaron Perez saw just 18 plate appearances during 2020, and while he didn’t record a hit, he walked six times and got hit by a pitch once, giving him a .389 on-base percentage. All of his plate appearances came during five starts at second base.

Second Baseman – Austin Chavis (Senior)

The senior Austin Chavis is entering his second year at Maryland after transferring from Potomac State College a year ago. He spent last season starting ten games at second base, where he slashed .194/.268/.306. His best performance was a three-hit day against Bryant on March 8, where he picked up a double and a RBI.

Shortstop – Benjamin Cowles (Junior)

Looking to be Maryland’s stalwart at shortstop, Cowles comes into his junior season as one of Maryland’s most versatile weapons at the plate and on the bases. He started all 15 games at shortstop last season, slashing .241/.364/.463 and slugging three home runs. On the base paths, he stole six bases in six attempts, making him quite the pest for opposing pitchers.

Shortstop – Matthew Shaw (Freshman)

Matthew Shaw represents half of the shortstop recruits that Maryland brought in for 2021, and he comes in as the third-best shortstop recruit out of Massachusetts, per Perfect Game. He brings a very solid bat with him, as he slashed .370/.414/.907 in 58 plate appearances as well as nine home runs.

Shortstop – Kevin Keister (Freshman)

Kevin Keister is the second shortstop recruit to join the Terps, coming in as the second-best shortstop recruit from Delaware, per Perfect Game. After his senior campaign last season, Keister was a finalist for the Gatorade Delaware Player of the Year Award.

Third Baseman – Tommy Gardiner (Senior)

Tommy Gardiner’s junior campaign was limited to six starts at the hot corner after he suffered an injury. In those six starts, he was one of Maryland’s most proficient hitters, slashing .350/.500/.350 and picking up multiple hits in half of his games.

Third Baseman – Matt Orlando (Sophomore)

With the injury that Gardiner suffered, Matt Orlando made the majority of starts at third base in 2020. In nine starts, he slashed .182/.270/.212 while bringing home a pair of runs.

Infielder – Michael Bouma (Sophomore)

The sophomore Michael Bouma didn’t see the field very much during 2020. His only four appearances came as a pinch-hitter, but he did not record a hit. Bouma’s most notable appearance was when he picked up a sacrifice-fly RBI against George Mason.