MLB Draft Preview: SS Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith – SS

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 188        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): East Greenbush, N.Y. (Columbia High School)

2017 Stats: 

G: 51     PA: 210    Slash Line: .269/.324/.538     HR: 11       RBI: 42     K-rate: 21.4 %      BB-rate: 6.2 %

Junior Kevin Smith singles to left field 10/21/2016 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Background: Kevin Smith came to Maryland as a freshman in 2015 and immediately made in impact, appearing in all 66 of the Terps’ games and starting in 65 of them. He finished the season with a .273 average, seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, ranking in the top four on the team in each of these categories.  Following the success in 2015, Smith continued his success as Maryland’s starting shortstop in his sophomore season. He was one of two Maryland players to start all 57 games in 2016, and put up impressive power numbers. Smith led the team with 95 total bases, and ranked second behind Marty Costes in homers (8) and RBIs (34). He did see a dip in average (.259) and walks (16 in 259 PA) but his strong season overall earned him a spot on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for best college shortstop.

Setting himself apart last summer, Smith played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League where he he posted a .301 with 14 RBIs en route to being named a CCBL All-Star. In the playoffs, he went 6-for-12, earning League Championship Series MVP honors as the Red Sox won their third straight CCBL title. His performance on the Cape led him to be named D1Baseball.com’s Summer Breakout Prospect and the best defensive infielder in the CCBL by Perfect Game. Going into the 2017 season, Smith was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by both Baseball America and Perfect Game.

This season, Smith posted the best power numbers of his career, hitting .269 with 11 homers, 10 doubles, 42 RBIs and a .538 slugging percentage. He now has 26 career home runs, tying him with John McCurdy for tenth all-time in Maryland history. While he had an up-and-down regular season, Smith came on strong in the Big Ten Tournament, going 7-for-20 with five RBIs, including a clutch three-run double that lifted Maryland over Purdue in an elimination game.

Outlook: With high expectations as a potential first round draft prospect, Smith and the Terps got off to a slow start this season. Maryland lost five of their first six games in the 2017 season and Smith struggled at the plate. Right as Smith started to get back on track, he missed seven games at the beginning of April due to an injury. When he returned, he struggled to stay consistent, but ultimately his power made him a key piece in the Terps’ lineup, as he led the team in home runs and RBIs. While the power was there, he failed to replicate the high average he posted in the Cape, as he hovered between .250 and .270 for most of the season, a mark consistent with the rest of his collegiate career. As he did in 2016, Smith continued to struggle with strikeouts, as his 21.4 percent K-rate this season was the highest of his career, while his 13 walks ranked last among Maryland regulars.

Junior Kevin Smith prepares to field a ball. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017

Despite the lack of average, Smith’s draft stock remains relatively high. He continues to impress on defense, and this combined with his pop at the shortstop position balances out his inconsistency at the plate. Additionally, he has shown the ability to hit for a high average, with his impressive season in the CCBL last summer. While his swing-and-miss tendencies may have dropped him out of the first round, he still has the potential to be an everyday shortstop with solid offensive production at the professional level.

He has consistently been ranked in the Top 100 MLB Draft prospects throughout the season: Baseball America ranks him 71st and MLB.com ranks him 78th. With the potential he has shown offensively over the past few years, he is very likely to go in the first five rounds of this year’s draft.

Series Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Looking to close out their home schedule strong, the Maryland Terrapins take on the Northwestern Wildcats this weekend in College Park for their final Big Ten series of the season.

In last weekend’s series against Illinois, Maryland (32-15, 14-7 Big Ten) turned in two losses after Friday’s 9-4 victory. On Friday, the Terps’ offense backed up another solid Brian Shaffer performance, totaling 11 hits, led by Kevin Smith’s two hits and three RBIs. However, the bats could not bail out Tyler Blohm or Taylor Bloom, who struggled Saturday and Sunday, respectively.  On Sunday, the offense put together a ninth inning rally with big hits from Nick Dunn and Will Watson to tie the game, only to lose on a walkoff home run in the bottom of the frame.

However, the Terps got back on their feet earlier this week when they kicked off their final homestand with a 6-2 win over the UMBC Retrievers on Tuesday.  Breaking out of the struggling midweek pitching trend, left-hander Tayler Stiles recorded their best midweek start of the season, tossing five shutout innings with six strikeouts. This win brought the Terps to 19-1 at home.

While the Terps lost their last weekend series, Northwestern (19-27, 8-10 Big Ten) clinched a series victory last weekend with an 8-7 victory over Purdue. The Wildcats collected 13 hits in the series finale, led by freshman second baseman Alex Erro’s four-RBI performance and senior outfielder Joe Hoscheit’s four hits.

The Wildcats had the most successful month of April for their program since 2010, posting 11 wins, six of which were conference wins. Since, they have split their last four games. Despite taking the series in West Lafayette, the Wildcats still own a 10-15 record on the road.

They have struggled at times both on the mound and at the plate this season, with a 5.21 team ERA and a .249 average. Hoscheit, Erro and Matt Hopfner have been the most consistent Northwestern Hitters this season. Hoscheit leads the team with a .333/.412/.516 slash line, five homers and 39 RBIs, while Hopfner leads in doubles (15), runs (35) and total bases (81). Erro is hitting .295 and is tied with Hopfner for the team-lead in hits with 54.

Left-hander Sam Lawrence has been the most reliable pitcher out of the bullpen for Northwestern this season, leading the team with 18 appearances and ranking second in ERA with a 3.55 mark. His 38 innings are the most for any Wildcat pitcher that has not made a start this year. Tyler Lass has been shaky out of the bullpen, allowing a .319 average over 14 appearances, but is averaging a strikeout per inning pitched. Pete Hoffman owns a lofty 4.99 ERA in 17 relief appearances, but leads the team with three saves and has struck out 37 batters in 30.2 innings pitched.

 

Starting Pitching Matchup 

FRI 2:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Brian Shaffer (6-2, 1.78 ERA) vs. Sr. LHP Cooper Wetherbee (2-2, 2.91 ERA)

WBVSTCBBLFRKCIX.201409242148581Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo   vs.    northwesternCooper

In Brian Shaffer’s last start against Illinois last weekend, he set his career high in strikeouts (83) for a single season.  Although the junior allowed eight hits, he struck out the same amount and held Illinois to two earned runs.  Shaffer remains the Big Ten leader in ERA and innings pitched, and ranks second in strikeouts.

Shaffer’s opposite number, Cooper Wetherbee, has also put together a fine season. He has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation this season, leading the Wildcats in ERA while also picking up a save. Despite only making six starts, the right-hander has tossed 46.1 innings over 16 appearances, and ranks eighth in the conference in ERA. In his last start against Purdue, Wetherbee allowed just three hits and two runs while striking out five, through six innings of work.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

SAT 3:00 p.m. EST

Fr. LHP Tyler Blohm (8-4, 3.17 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Hank Christie (3-4, 4.31 ERA)

YFZMWOKWXYQKPRI.201609161938351Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo        vs.        northwesternHank

Tyler Blohm has been dominant since becoming Maryland’s Saturday starter, leading the Big Ten in wins and ranking second on the Terps in strikeouts (53). Even after struggling Saturday against Illinois (2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, L), the freshman southpaw ranks in the top ten in the conference in ERA, strikeouts, and opponent’s average (.225).

Hank Christie will be on the other side of Saturday’s freshmen pitcher’s duel.  The right-hander has been a fixture in the Wildcats rotation, as he is the only pitcher to make 12 starts this season. As a result, he leads Northwestern in innings pitched (62.2) and strikeouts (42). Christie has had an up-and-down season, but has been impressive of late, allowing just one earned run over his last three starts, spanning 20 innings. He had one of his best starts of the season last week against Purdue, allowing six hits and one unearned run through eight innings, but got a no-decision as Northwestern fell in 12 innings.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

SUN 1:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Taylor Bloom (5-2, 4.26 ERA) vs. Sr. RHP Josh Davis (3-2, 3.76 ERA)

OBWZVXSYRGTEOGI.201609161938351Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo    vs.    Josh Davis

Taylor Bloom led the Terps in ERA a year ago, but has had an up-and-down 2017. In his last start, Sunday at Purdue, he gave up five hits and four earned runs through 4.1 innings, but got off the hook for the loss when Maryland came back to tie it in the ninth. He’ll look to get back on track Sunday.

Like Wetherbee, Josh Davis has switched back and forth between the bullpen rotation this season. He has made seven starts this season, but his last appearance was in relief, when he pitched 1.1 innings out of the bullpen against Purdue Sunday. His last start came May 2 against Notre Dame, a six-inning, three-run performance. Opponents are hitting .261 against him this season, but his control has been impressive, as he has walked just nine hitters in 40.2 innings.

Series Preview: William & Mary

Maryland (24-11, 9-3 Big Ten) will travel to Williamsburg, Va. on Wednesday to take on William & Mary (18-19), hoping to bring along some of this past weekend’s success.

Coming off a midweek loss to George Mason, Maryland swept Penn State this past weekend, capping off the series with a 15-2 win on Sunday.  After collecting just three hits in Friday night’s comeback walkoff victory, the Terps finished strong with 19 hits on Sunday. Marty Costes recorded four hits and five RBIs Sunday, finishing a homer short of the cycle, while AJ Lee’s four-hit, five-RBI, two-homer performance pushed his average to a season-high .303 mark. Along with Costes and Lee, Brandon Gum (.333) and Zach Jancarski (.312) both stayed hot, as the Terps now have four regulars hitting over .300 on the season.

Maryland at William and MaryOn the other side of Wednesday’s matchup, William & Mary (18-19, 4-5 CAA) has not had the same recent success. They wrap up a six-game road swing Tuesday with a game at Richmond, looking to salvage something on what has been an 0-5 trip so far. William & Mary hasn’t won since a 14-6 victory over Elon at home on April 8, but the Tribe does own a 12-4 record on their home turf this season.  In their most recent contest Sunday at East Tennessee State, senior right fielder Charles Ameer led the team with a homer and three RBIs, while junior second baseman Cullen Large also went deep.

These two have been offensive catalysts for the Tribe all year, as Ameer leads the team in homers (6) to go with his .297 average and 24 RBIs, while Large is hitting .331 with a team-high 13 doubles and 32 RBIs. Freshman outfielder Brandon Raquet has also been hot of late, notching a hit in six straight contests to raise his average to a team-best .346 mark. The Tribe have struggled on the mound this season, especially during their current losing streak, surrendering at least eight runs in each of the last four games. William & Mary’s pitching staff has surrendered 38 homers on the season, while pitching to a 5.50 team ERA. Only two Tribe pitchers own ERAs below 3: Sunday starter Nick Raquet, whose 2.30 mark leads the team, and right-hander Christopher Lohr, who has pitched one scoreless inning out of the bullpen this season.

The last time these two teams met was at the beginning of March, when the Terps rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Tribe 9-8. Ameer collected three hits that day and Large collected three RBIs.

Starting Pitching Matchup

WED 6:00 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Ryan Hill (3-0, 2.63 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Jamie Sara (1-0, 5.84 ERA)

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo   vs.   Jamie Sara

The Terps will send right-hander Ryan Hill to the mound Wednesday for his first start of the season. Hill, a junior transfer, has been Maryland’s most reliable pitcher out of the bullpen this year. He leads the team in appearances (16), ranks fourth, behind the weekend rotation, in innings pitched (27.1), and trails only Brian Shaffer and Tyler Blohm with 36 strikeouts.

Freshman right-hander Jamie Sara will start for William & Mary. The Alexandria, Virginia, native has made nine appearances and one start this year, allowing eight runs (all earned) on 12 hits over 12.1 innings pitched. While he does have the strikeout pitch working (1o K) early in his college career, his control has been shaky, with 11 walks and two hit batsmen to date.

 

Pro Terps Update: Opening Day Assignments

The Major League season is underway and there is a familiar face on the St. Louis Cardinals.  Former Terps LHP Brett Cecil signed with St. Louis as a free agent in November, after pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2009 to 2016.  Last year with Toronto, the southpaw finished 1-7, with a 3.93 ERA in 54 appearances out of the bullpen.  Cecil remains the only former Terrapin in the majors, but several Maryland standouts look to elongate their professional careers in the minors this year.  Minor league opening day is Thursday, April 6.

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RHP Mike Shawaryn Photo: Hannah Evans/MBN

RHP Mike Shawaryn wrapped up his first season in the minors last year.  The Boston Red Sox drafted Shawaryn in the fifth round and assigned him to the Short-Season A Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox).  With Lowell, Shawaryn had a 2.87 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 15.2 innings of work. After his first year and spring training success, Shawaryn will move up to the Class-A Greenville Drive to start the 2017 season.

Second baseman Brandon Lowe also found success in his first professional season and will move up to the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays) to start the year.  In 2016 with the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods, Lowe finished with a .248 AVG, 94 hits and 42 RBIs, while setting a franchise record with an 18-game hitting streak.  He showed the same patient eye he had as a Terp, walking 60 times in 107 games for a .357 OBP.

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Third Baseman Jose Cuas Photo: Alexander Jonesi

A pair of former Terps will take the field for the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers) this season. Third baseman Jose Cuas moves down to Wisconsin after spending last season with the High-A Brevard County Manatees, where he hit .170 with four home runs and 27 RBIs. RHP Jake Drossner will start the 2017 season alongside Cuas. He pitched for the Rattlers last year, posting a 4.69 ERA with 91 strikeouts through 94 innings of work.

RHP Kevin Mooney will return to the Class-A Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals) for the third year.  Maryland’s all time leader in saves, he posted a 3.33 ERA with one save in 21 appearances for the Doubledays last year.

LHP Zach Morris made 48 appearances out of the bullpen for the Class-A Lakewood Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies) in 2016.  Morris recorded a 2.57 ERA and five saves through 66.2 innings.  He will return to Lakewood this season.

Two Terps in the Minnesota Twins organization will look to repeat their success from a year ago. LHP Alex Robinson will open 2017 with the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels after spending the 2015 and 2016 seasons in rookie ball with the Elizabethton Twins. The southpaw excelled last year, with a 3.00 ERA and .162 opponents’ average in 33 innings. Outfielder LaMonte Wade got moved up from the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels to the High-A Fort Myers Miracle in July of last season after making the Midwest League All-Star Team.  He finished the 2016 season hitting .293 with 51 RBIs and 8 home runs across the two levels. This year, he’ll start the season with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.

Coming back from Tommy John surgery, LHP Jimmy Reed will join the Double-A Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals) this season. Reed missed last season, but played at the Triple-A, Double-A and High-A levels in 2015.  For Springfield in 2015, Reed was 2-4 with a 5.14 ERA through 82.1 innings of work.  When Reed moved down to the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals, he improved his record to 4-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.15.

RHP Jake Stinnett will move up to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs) in 2017 for his fourth professional season.  In 2016 with the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Stinnett performed well the first half of the season, earning his spot on the Carolina League All-Star Team with a 3.78 ERA and a 5-3 record.  He finished the season with a 4.27 ERA and the Pelicans won the Carolina League Championship.

In 2016, LHP Adam Kolarek split time between Double-A Montgomery Biscuits and Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays).  The southpaw posted a 3.32 ERA in 13 appearances with the Biscuits, and lowered it to a 3.05 mark in 33 outings after his call-up to Durham. He will return to the Bulls in 2017 for his eighth professional season.

Catcher Kevin Martir signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this spring.  Last year with Class-A Short Season Tri-City ValleyCats (Houston Astros), Martir hit .165 with 21 RBIs and a home run.

Terps muster just one hit, fall to No. 11 UNC

Four North Carolina (13-5) pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter to defeat Maryland (9-6) 9-2 on Tuesday. Maryland’s loss snaps their eight-game winning streak.

Freshman Tar Heel starter Tyler Baum only allowed one hit through five innings of work to improve to 3-0 on the season. Three UNC relievers combined to hold the Terps hitless through the final four frames.

The Terps were beneficiaries of seven walks, but were unable to capitalize. Their lone hit came from Nick Dunn, who drove in Maryland’s only two runs with a single in the third inning.

“If you’re going to beat a team like this at their place, you have to pitch and play defense with them,” head coach John Szefc said. “You can’t be coming from six behind.”

The Tar Heels jumped on top early, scoring two runs in the first. Maryland starter Hunter Parsons (0-1) exited after only 1.2 innings, allowing four runs.

In the first, Tar Heel junior Brian Miller singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. He scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman Ashton McGee and Zack Gahagan followed with a solo home run.

In the second frame, senior Tyler Lynn reached on a bunt single, advanced to third on a fielding error by third baseman AJ Lee and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ike Freeman. To tack on the final run of the inning, Cody Roberts scored on an RBI single by Logan Warmoth.

“If we got a good start and played better defense behind those guys the outcome is probably a lot better,” Szefc said.

Maryland cut their deficit in half in the third inning on a two-run single by Dunn, but could not do any further damage.

Roberts led off the fourth with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Roberts moved to third on a groundout by Brandon Riley and scored on an RBI single to center field by Freeman. Miller walked and McGee hit a three-run home run.

Mike Rescigno and Jared Prince combined to toss three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, each notching two strikeouts.

The Tar Heels added one more run in the seventh on a groundout by Gahagan, his second RBI of the day.

Maryland returns home for a three-game series against Princeton, starting Friday at 4 p.m.

Game Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

The Maryland Terrapins (9-5) extended their winning streak to eight games this weekend with a series sweep over the Bryant Bulldogs.  Maryland will look to continue their stretch as they travel to Chapel Hill to face their former ACC foe, North Carolina, on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

In their first home series of the season, the Terps found success thanks to strong performances from the starting rotation.  After shaky outings from Maryland’s starters in the midweek games, they did not have to rely on their bullpen over the weekend.

maryland-at-uncOn Friday, Brian Shaffer held the Bulldogs to one run through seven innings to win 7-1.  Taylor Bloom also threw seven innings in his start in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, allowing just two unearned runs and just four hits in the Terps’ 9-2 victory.  To finish the weekend, Tyler Blohm held the Bulldogs to just three hits through six innings in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. The freshman southpaw struck out six and did not allow a run to secure a 4-0 win.

Meanwhile, down South, offense was the answer for the No. 13 North Carolina Tar Heels (12-4) this weekend.  They won their first ACC series of the season, taking two out of three games at home against Virginia for their first series win over the Cavaliers since 2012.  The Tar Heels have been aided by home field advantage, as they have played all 16 of their games at home in Chapel Hill.

At the plate, North Carolina has been rolling of late, coming off a 12-2 win over Virginia Sunday. Shortstop Logan Warmoth (.373, 3 HR, 11 RBI) leads a Tar Heel offense that has scored eight runs in four of their last five games. While impressing at the plate, North Carolina has been even more dominant on the mound this season, as the pitching staff has collectively posted a 2.12 ERA through 16 games. The Terps offense comes in hot, however, putting up seven runs or more six times during their eight game winning streak.

The last time Maryland met North Carolina was in the 2014 ACC championship, before Maryland moved to the Big Ten.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

TUES 4 p.m. EST

1Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logoparsons     vs.    Tyler Baum

So. RHP Hunter Parsons (0-0, 12.38 ERA) vs. Fr. RHP Tyler Baum (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Sophomore Hunter Parsons will get his second start of the season on Tuesday at North Carolina.  Parsons made 15 appearances last season with five starts, finishing the season with a 3.50 ERA.  In his first start this year, Maryland’s home opener on Wednesday against William & Mary, Parsons only lasted 1.2 innings and allowed six earned runs, but the right-hander showed promise with strong relief appearances early in the season. He will look to take pressure off the Terps bullpen and bats on Tuesday and continue the string of solid starts put together by Maryland’s rotation over the weekend.

Freshman Tyler Baum is slated to make his third start as a Tar Heel on Tuesday.  The Ocoee, Fla. native was ranked as the No. 7 RHP by Prep Baseball Report coming out of high school.  Baum has had two good outings for the Tar Heels this season highlighted by 10.2 shutout innings and a 2-0 record. In his last appearance against VCU, Baum threw five shutout innings and retired the first eight batters he faced.  

Player Countdown: Anthony Papio, #0

Maryland Baseball Network counted down to Opening Day! Today marks the start of the 2017 season, so here’s a look at #0, Anthony Papio.

Student Assistant Coach Anthony Papio
Student Assistant Coach Anthony Papio

ANTHONY PAPIO | 0

Position: Student Assistant Coach

Hometown: Olney, Md.

High School: Sherwood High School

Alma Mater: University of Maryland (’16)

About Anthony: Anthony Papio returns to College Park to join the Terrapin’s coaching staff as a student assistant coach after four remarkable seasons on the team.  He holds the team record for most games played (230) and finished second all-time in triples (9).

Papio started his career at Maryland as a walk-on and quickly turned into a key player for the Terps.  As a redshirt freshman, Papio appeared in 47 games, splitting time between right and left field.  He posted a .245 batting average with five doubles and 21 RBIs.  Papio started 53 games as a sophomore, solidifying his spot in right field and batting .271 with nine doubles and two home runs.  As a Junior, Papio became one of just two Terps to start in all 66 games.  He recorded 16 doubles, 26 RBIs and six home runs.  He earned All-Tournament honors at the Los Angeles Regional after a noteworthy defensive performance.  During his final year on the Terps roster, Papio batted .261 with eight doubles, four triples and four home runs.  He finished the year with a hit and a walk in the Big Ten semifinals against Iowa.

Off the field, Papio earned Big Ten All-Academic honors, Maryland’s Outstanding Sportsmanship Award and won the “Iron Terps” competition three years.