Terps 2017 Baseball Schedule: By the Numbers

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By Ben Harris

Last season, the Terps went 30-27 en route to a Big Ten Tournament berth. However, Maryland fell in the semi-final to Iowa and was not selected to participate in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, after winning back-to-back NCAA Regionals.

While Maryland’s near .500 record may indicate that the Terps were rightfully left out of the postseason picture, a deeper analysis shows Maryland much more on the bubble. In 2016, Maryland’s non-conference schedule—featuring series at Alabama and Cal St. Fullerton, and a home series vs. Bryant—was the sixth-hardest in the nation. This led to Maryland finishing with an RPI of 60, good enough to squeak into the top-64. But, when factoring in automatic bids from conferences with weaker RPIs, it left the Terps on the outside of the NCAA Tournament looking in.

Let’s break down Maryland’s 56-game schedule for 2017.

Non-Conference Schedule:

In 2017, Maryland’s non-conference schedule figures to again be one of the toughest in the nation, featuring series at LSU and home against Bryant, in addition to two high-profile tournaments.

This is the continuation of a trend started last season when the Terps’ overall strength of schedule ranked 29th in the nation. No Big Ten team had a tougher schedule, and it was all thanks to Maryland’s arduous non-conference slate.

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Maryland’s 2017 non-conference opponents averaged a record of 33-23 last year. For context, just 78 out of 300 teams in 2016 won more than 33 games—that’s the top quarter of division I baseball. These aren’t teams who put together 30-win seasons in weak conferences—eight went at least as far as NCAA Regionals last year.

Series and Tournaments:

The Terps hit the ground running to open their season, playing five of their first ten games against programs which finished in the top-10 in RPI last season. Maryland will spend opening weekend in Clearwater, Florida, facing Ball State, Alabama State (the four-seed in last year’s Tallahassee Region) and Louisville, the fifth-overall seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals, arguably the nation’s most talented team last season, hosted and won their NCAA Regional, tallying a 50-14 record en route to a top-two finish in RPI.

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Terps will travel early in the season to take on a high-profile SEC opponent. Exactly five years and one week after Szefc began his Maryland coaching career getting swept by the LSU in Baton Rouge, “The General” and his troops will return to Alex Box Stadium for an early test against the Tigers. LSU fell in last Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 9.45.16 AM.pngyear’s Super Regional to the eventual College World Series champion, Coastal
Carolina, and finished ninth in the nation in RPI.

The following week, in their second tournament of the season, Maryland will play North Carolina State (38-22), Notre Dame and UMass-Lowell. The N.C. State Wolfpack, the toughest opponent of the three, finished 2016 with the eighth-best RPI in the NCAA, and also saw their season end at the hands of Chanticleers, one round before the Tigers.

The Terps welcome the Bryant Bulldogs to College Park for the second-straight year and third meeting in four years. The March series will reunite new Maryland pitching coach Ryan Fecteau with his former team. The Bulldogs had the best record in the nation last year (47-12, .796) but were eliminated by William & Mary, another of the Terps’ 2017 opponents, in the Charlottesville Regional.

Princeton, the four-seed in last year’s Lafayette Region, will travel to Maryland for the third straight odd-numbered year. The Terps handily swept both previous series, outscoring the Tigers 73-15 while tossing three shutouts.

Notable Midweek Matchups:

  • March 14, at North Carolina (6:00 p.m. ET)
  • March 21-22, at UNC-Wilmington (6:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET)
  • April 11, vs. West Virginia (4:00 p.m. ET)
  • March 7 and April 19, vs. William and Mary (both at 4:00 p.m. ET)

Conference Schedule:

While Maryland’s final RPI will heavily emphasize non-conference results, the Terps will need to bolster their resume with positive results during conference play.

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Over the past two seasons—Maryland’s first in the Big Ten—the Terps have played every Big Ten team at least once. That means no more surprises, and no more teams Szefc has never faced. Maryland begins its conference slate with three home games against Michigan, one of two 2017 conference opponents they did not face last year. The two teams have played four times during Szefc’s tenure as head coach—including the 2015 Big Ten Tournament Final—with the Terps winning just once. Maryland’s series against Michigan will mark the first time former Terps head coach Erik Bakich will return to College Park since leaving to become the Wolverines’ head coach in 2012.

Maryland begins April with two road series against Rutgers and Nebraska, followed by home series against Penn State and Michigan State. In 2016, Maryland dropped two crucial games to Rutgers to begin their penultimate series before salvaging a 6-0 win on Sunday to avoid a sweep. Under Szefc, Maryland is above .500 against the Cornhuskers (3-0), Nittany Lions (2-1) and Spartans (3-2).

To round out the conference schedule, the Terps will travel to Indiana and Illinois for the first time since joining the Big Ten, then host Northwestern at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium for what could be a crucial final conference series. Maryland is 16-15 under John Szefc against 2017 conference opponents and has beaten each one at least once. Overall, Szefc is 27-21 against the Big Ten.

What it Means:

To understand the impact the Big Ten move had on the Terps’ RPI and subsequent postseason hopes, you must compare 2012, the year before Szefc arrived, and 2015.

In 2012, still a member of the powerhouse ACC, the Terps went 32-24 with a 10-20 record in conference. Their strength of schedule? 22. Their RPI? 33.

Three years later, in 2015, Maryland posted a program-record 42 wins and a second consecutive trip to the Super Regionals. Their strength of schedule? 58. Their RPI? 31.

While the conference switch may indicate a negative impact on the Terps scheduling and postseason hopes, it merely shows how Maryland has adjusted. When in the ACC, the Terps could schedule a weaker non-conference schedule, knowing the ACC gauntlet would bolster their RPI and resume. Now in the Big Ten, Maryland, under the direction of Szefc, has done exactly what they need to do in consistently scheduling a difficult non-conference slate.

A strong showing in conference, combined with a respectable run in 16 games against out-of-conference, 2016 NCAA Tournament opponents, would put Maryland well within striking distance of a return to postseason play.

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Fifteen Terps Play for Nation’s Top 35 Summer League Teams

By Ben Harris

As summer leagues across the country recorded their seasons’ final outs, many positives could be drawn from the triumphant performances of Maryland ballplayers over the prior summer months.

A standout in the Cape League, a roost of Redbird hurlers and a record-breaking performance on the mound in the Perfect Game League topped the headlines.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 2.16.26 PM.pngLast week, Chris Rogers broke down the final numbers for every active summer Terp, eight of whom won their respective league championships. This week, Collegiate Summer Baseball released their comprehensive annual ranking of the nation’s Top 35 summer league teams.

Fifteen out of 25 Terps (60 percent) played on teams ranked in CSB’s Top 35.

Five Terps played for the Cal Ripken League’s Baltimore Redbirds, the most of any club. Four pitchers (Tyler Blohm, Mike Rescigno, Hunter Parsons, Andrew Miller) combined for a 1.79 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 110.1 dominant innings, while Marty Costes tied for third in the league with seven homers.

Three more played for the Redbirds’ league rival Bethesda Big Train. The two clubs have met in the CRCBL championship the last eight seasons. John Murphy, Justin Morris and Peyton Sorrels all brought the CRCBL title back to Bethesda this summer after the Redbirds won the last four league titles.

Kevin Smith was vital to the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox taking home their third-straight Cape League championship and the top spot in CSB’s rankings. In addition to being named the CCBL Championship Series MVP, Smith led his club in hits, doubles and extra base knocks. While the Brewster Whitecaps failed to crack the rankings, both Smith and Brewster’s Nick Dunn earned All-League infield honors. Also on the Cape, Ryan Selmer’s Wareham Gatemen checked in at no. 31 on CSB’s list.

The Matsu Miners, summer home to both AJ Lee and Madison Nickens, battled to the nineteenth national ranking after winning the Alaskan Baseball League title. As Perfect Game League champions, Danny Maynard and Cameron Enck’s Amsterdam Mohawks fill the no. 12 spot. This summer, Enck set a league record with a miniscule 0.39 ERA.

Up north in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the runner-up Sanford Mainers were powered in large part by center fielder Zach Jancarski. The rising junior led the Mainers in both runs and hits.

After a disappointing 2016 compared to their 40-win seasons and NCAA Super Regional appearances in 2014 and 2015, a sharp summer looks to be a positive early start for the 2017 Terps.

Pro-Terps Update: 7/20/16

By Ben Harris

By last week’s end, the book was closed on the 2016 Maryland Terrapin draftees, it’s final chapter telling two stories each of looming professional careers and a desire to don the pinstripes in College Park, Maryland.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, the most decorated pitcher to ever stroll the mall at the University of Maryland, agreed to a $637,500 signing bonus with the Boston Red Sox, almost $300,000 more than the slot value of the 148th overall pick. The Unicorn will join the short-season Class A Lowell Spinners some 330 miles northeast of his New Jersey home.

LHP Rob Galligan is the only other Terp taking their talents to the professional ranks in 2016. Drafted in the 36th round (1079 overall), Galligan has appeared in eight games for the Diamondback’s rookie league Missoula Osprey allowing seven earned over 9.1 innings.

On the flip side, two pitchers announced their intention to play for the Terps in 2017. Rising senior RHP Mike Rescigno turned down an opportunity to join the San Francisco Giants as a 25th round pick (755 overall) in favor of serving as a bridge between the Jim Belanger staffs of the past four years and those of newly appointed pitching coach Ryan Fecteau. LHP Tyler Blohm—a rising freshman and Rescigno’s teammate on the Cal Ripken summer league’s Baltimore Redbirds—declared that he too would forgo his offer, this one from his hometown Baltimore Orioles, and enroll at Maryland this fall.

After breaking his foot as a redshirt sophomore in 2015’s season-ending loss to Virginia, 2B Brandon Lowe has made waves since first lacing up for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in April. On July 17, Lowe broke the Hot Rods’ franchise record with a base knock in 18 consecutive games. In his mid-summer crusade against Midwest League pitching, Lowe slashed .371/.421/.529 across 22 days from June 25 to July 17. Eight of the 18 games were multi-hit affairs. The second baseman ranks 13th in the league with a .372 OBP.

LHP Adam Kolarek’s first two months in triple-A have gone swimmingly. Notching 30 innings thus far, Kolarek has held International league opponents to a .152 batting average while striking out 26 percent of batters faced, the highest mark for any sustained stretch in his seven-year professional career.

Returning for the Class A short-season Auburn Doubledays, a newly-mustachioed RHP Kevin Mooney — inspired by the club’s namesake and Old Abner’s famous lip rug — has settled back into the late-inning role he become so accustomed to at Maryland.

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Following the lead of catcher Erik VanMeetren, Kevin Mooney sports a handlebar  mustache that would make Abner Doubleday proud.

And, as he did in College Park, he is thriving. In an eight outing span between his first and most recent appearances (June 20-July 16), Mooney was nearly as perfect as his 0.00 ERA and 0.48 WHIP would lead one to believe. For the year, he’s posted a 1.46 ERA and 0.81 WHIP over 12.1 innings while striking out 11 and walking three.

LHP Zach Morris was named Lakewood BlueClaws Player of the Week to kick off July. Overall Morris has posted phenomenal numbers in the low ranks of the Phillies’ farm system and 2016 has been no different. In 33 relief appearances, Morris has a 2.62 earned run average, 1.34 WHIP and .244 batting average against. In 44 innings, he’s struck out 38, walked 19 and allowed 41 hits.

Despite a less than stellar 2016 campaign, RHP Jake Stinnett was named a Carolina League All-Star for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. As the sixth youngest player on the roster, he tossed a perfect seventh inning in the All-Star game with three groundouts. His opponents’ batting averages have risen every month this year from .164 to .200 to .304 to .357 in July. In three starts this month, he’s holds a 9.56 ERA.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.49.29 PMFollowing his own well-deserved All-Star appearance, OF LaMonte Wade began his climb up the Minnesota Twins’ minor league ranks. Rewarded with a promotion to the Class A-advanced Florida State League at the beginning of July, Wade picked up where he left off in Cedar Rapids. Through 17 games, he’s hitting .352/.422/.519 for the Fort Myers Miracle. Were he qualified, he’d fall four slugging percentage points short of owning top marks in every triple slash category. His batting average would stand a full 34 points greater than the next highest, and his OBP would lead the league by 19 points. He’s hit safely in 13 of 17 games with five multi-hit games and two homers in his last three games.

A pair of former Terps currently play for Brewers Class A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. LF Troy Stokes has appeared in 53 of 95 games this year with a .237 average and .359 OBP. Both are slightly shy of his minor league career marks. After being given the month of June off from starting duties, LHP Jake Drossner has returned to that role this month. After a good June in the pen (four appearances, 2.25 ERA), Drossner has made three starts in July to the tune of a 3.77 ERA and 2.09 WHIP.

In nine games for the short-season Tri-City ValleyCats, C Kevin Martir has logged seven base hits in 35 at bats. His best outing came in a 2-for-4 July 1 win, when he tagged a two-bagger and a long ball, knocking in three runs from the eight-hole to beat Hudson Valley 5-3.

In the majors, LHP Brett Cecil has appeared in six games this month for the Blue Jays allowing three runs over 4.1 innings to raise his ERA to 5.17. And after signing with the Red Sox in early April and appearing in 61 games for triple-A Pawtucket, Boston granted OF Justin Maxwell his release so that the 32-year-old Maryland native could sign with the Korean league Lotte Giants.

Inside the Numbers: Terps New Pitching Coach Ryan Fecteau

By Ben Harris

Just one week ago, the Terps watched their pitching coach Jim Belanger pack up and head to Lexington, Kentucky to take the same position for the Kentucky Wildcats.

But in a small college town of 21,000 in east Rhode Island, one man caught the eye of the burgeoning Maryland program. To fill the void in John Scefz’s coaching personnel, Maryland tapped Bryant University pitching coach Ryan Fecteau, who in six years led perennially dominant Bulldog pitching staffs.

Bryant hired Fecteau in 2011 after an impressive three-year stretch as a summer ball manager in Virginia. In 2010, the last of his three seasons in the Valley Baseball League, his club won their second straight league championship as he added a Coach of the Year award to his mantle.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 3.29.47 PM.pngFrom 2011-2016 under Fecteau’s supervision, Bryant’s pitchers separated themselves from the rest of their mid-major NEC competition, ranking atop the conference’s statistical leaderboards year in and year out. Only four times in that span did an NEC team post an ERA under 3.10. Each was a Fecteau-led Bulldog staff, and they stand as the four lowest team ERAs in the NEC since 2003.

In those six years, the Bulldogs’ team ERA averaged a run-and-a-half less than the rest of the league—it was never within 0.80 of the league average in any season, and was twice more than two full runs lower.

This season was no different, as Bryant’s NCAA-best .797 winning percentage was powered largely by their shutdown pitching staff that led the NEC in nearly every measurable way. They allowed 72 fewer runs than any other team, struck out 77 more batters than the next best staff and allowed the fewest extra base hits. Their opposing batting average (.241), slugging percentage (.321), WHIP (1.32) and ERA (3.09) were all best in the conference. The next best conference ERA was 4.36.

Joining the staff of new head coach Steve Owens in 2011, Fecteau’s inherited pitching staff posted the third best ERA and allowed the fewest hits in the conference while finishing in second in strikeouts. That’s an impressive start for a first time college pitching coach. But in the following five seasons as the maestro of Bryant’s impressive rotation and bullpen, he proved that quick start was no fluke.

After his first season, the Bulldogs finished with the conference’s best WHIP every year and the lowest ERA in the NEC all but once (2015, second). Bryant was the only mid-major with an ERA in the top 25 in the nation for three years running between 2012-2014 and, in that span, their ERA ranked 17, 10 and 21 in the country. In 2013 and 2014, they finished in the top 15 in the NCAA in WHIP as well.

Such sustained dominance left in its wake a trail of honors: three of six NEC Pitcher of the Year awards made their way to Smithfield, Rhode Island. From 2011-2016, five of 12 First Team All-NEC starting pitchers were Bryant Bulldogs. So were two of the six relievers. All in all, nearly 40 percent of pitchers selected to the All-NEC First Team during Fecteau’s tenure wore Bryant black and gold.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 12.17.00 AM.pngEven amid some conference reshuffling in the NEC, Fecteau’s staffs performed better against conference opponents every season.

Fecteau’s starters thrived deep in games, eating innings and pitching efficiently just as Maryland’s rotation did in 2016. In the last three years the Bulldogs have thrown 26 complete games. The other six teams in the NEC have combined for 50 in that time, averaging 2.78 per season. Bryant has averaged nearly nine complete games per season since 2014.

Terrapin starters went the distance 11 times this year, almost one in every five games, accounting for nearly a third of the entire Big Ten’s complete games. The next best Big Ten club compiled just six complete games.

In College Park, Taylor Bloom tied for eighth in the NCAA with five complete game efforts in 2016, while Brian Shaffer and Mike Shawaryn each pitched in three of their own. From the get go, the Bloom and Shaffer’s longevity will provide Fecteau with a solid foundation with which to begin working.

His staff’s in-game performance is only the beginning of what Fecteau brings to the table. At Bryant, he shuttled pitchers through the program and into the minor leagues at a rate the school had never experienced. In three seasons between 2013-2015, Fecteau sent six pitchers to the majors, one more than the five players (only two pitchers) that Bryant saw drafted in their first 41 years of existence.

He coached Kevin McAvoy, the highest drafted player in program history (2014, fourth round) for his entire three-year college career. He mentored James Karinchak, a 2015 Freshman All-American. Under his watchful guidance, Bulldog pitchers have etched their names atop the program’s record books in career wins, ERA, Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 4.18.37 PM.pngstrikeouts and shutouts, while also posting single-season bests for ERA, punchouts and complete games. Of the program’s top 10 career innings leaders, Fecteau coached nine of them. And over 30 percent of all NEC Pitcher of the Week awards (26 of 83) since 2011 have been awarded to Bryant hurlers.

The program has won five straight NEC championships, and, since jumping up into the Division I ranks in 2009, has made NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons. By any measure, Ryan Fecteau’s impact on Bryan success has been immense, and the Terps look to have filled an unexpected hole with a diamond in the rough.

 

Summer Ball Update 6/23/16: Terps Heating Up on the Cape and in Baltimore

By Ben Harris

Take a look at where the Terps are playing this summer

The Terps’ double-play tandem of Nick Dunn and Kevin Smith are taking the Cape Cod League by storm. To put it simply, the rising sophomore and rising junior are raking. Building on a breakout freshman campaign that earned him Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors, Dunn leads the Brewster Whitecaps with a .368 batting average that ranks eighth on the Cape. His .478 on-base percentage is third in the league, and has been aided by good plate discipline (six walks and two hit by pitches through just nine games). His 14 hits are sixth most in the league, and he ranks third on the Whitecaps with a .899 OPS. MBN’s Jake Eisenberg caught up with him earlier this summer.

Smith, one year Dunn’s senior, also leads his team, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, in batting average (.342, 13th in the league), with the second highest on-base percentage (.390) and third best slugging percentage (.526). He is also tied for the team lead with two stolen bases. Jake Eisenberg had the chance to talk to Smith as well.

After tying Dunn for second on the Terps with 18 extra base hits in 2016, Smith’s four doubles and five extra base hits this summer rank tied for second and fourth in the league respectively.

The lone Terrapin pitcher spending his summer on the Cape is Ryan Selmer. In two appearances and three innings for the Wareham Gatemen, Selmer has allowed three earned runs, walked one and struck out four. Jake Eisenberg spoke to Selmer on Monday.

The freshman sensation who led the 2016 Terps in extra base hits, Marty Costes, has continued slugging his way through the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. Costes, one of five Terps on the Baltimore Red Birds, ranks first on his club and third in the CRCBL with three homers. Through 12 games, he’s slashing .293/.375/.561. However, his walk and strikeout rates have both increased from his freshman season at Maryland. His walk rate has risen from 9.3% to 10.4%, while his K% has jumped from 9.69% to 14.6%.

The other four Terps on the Red Birds roster, all pitchers, have all looked sharp thus far.

After clawing his way into the midweek role in 2016, and likely a weekend starting gig next season, Hunter Parsons has continued his success in the CRCBL. Through three starts, Parsons is 2-0 with a dominating 0.69 ERA, second lowest in the league, and 1.08 WHIP. He’s allowed just one extra base hit, and opponents are hitting just .200 against him in 13 innings. He ranks tied for seventh in the CRCBL with 14 strikeouts.

Fresh off being selected in the 25th round of the MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, Mike Rescigno has performed well out of the bullpen. He’s allowed just one run in seven innings, striking out nine and walking one. His 1.28 ERA and 1.14 WHIP have both dropped drastically from his 2016 collegiate season (5.59 ERA, 1.91 WHIP), with an opposing batting average of .250, 88 points lower than this season in College Park.

Andrew Miller has a 3.85 ERA in four relief appearances (11.2 innings). He too has posted a phenomenal strikeout/walk ratio at 12/2. Rounding out the Terps contingent of the Red Birds pitching staff is incoming freshman left-hander Tyler Blohm, who was selected by his hometown Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round of the MLB draft. In two long relief appearances this summer, Blohm is pitching better than his 3.00 ERA would lead you to believe, as his 0.83 WHIP and .174 opposing batting average are better indicators of his summer success. Only one of his four hits allowed has fallen for extra bases.

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Elsewhere in the CRCBL, John Murphy is 1-2 for the Bethesda Big Train in three starts. He’s allowed 10 earned runs over 15.1 innings with 10 strikeouts and five walks. In 12 games, Justin Morris is third on the Big Train with nine RBIs and leads the club with four doubles. Peyton Sorrels has started slowly in Bethesda, posting a .111 batting average with five runs and three hits through 27 at bats.

Truman Thomas has shut down opponents in both of his starts for the Gaithersburg Giants. He allowed just one earned run and three hits over six innings on June 17 and struck out one of every three batters he faced. A week earlier, in his summer league debut, he threw five shutout innings in a 13-0 blowout win. His 0.81 ERA is lowest of any Giant with at least eight innings pitched. Playing for his hometown club, Gaithersburg native Nick Pantos has a 2.34 ERA in 7.2 innings of relief.

Although his seven RBIs are tied for third most on the team, Nick Cieri has started slow for the Silver Spring-Tacoma Thunderbolts slashing just .231/.310/.385. Terps’ recruit Ty Friedrich is hitting .294 with a .520 on-base percentage in six games this summer from the catcher’s position.

Up in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, Jamal Wade seems to be making a transition to the mound. The outfielder—who hasn’t pitched since high school—has been one of the best relievers for the Northern Division-leading Keene Swamp Bats thus far. In three innings out of the pen, Wade’s 0.67 WHIP is only bested by his perfect 0.00 ERA. He’s faced 13 batters this summer allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out seven batters (53.8 K%). Also in the NECBL, Zach Jancarski is hitting .257 for the Sanford Mainers with five runs and nine hits in 10 games.

In New York’s Perfect Game League, Cameron Enck (2-1) has pitched phenomenally in three starts and four appearances for the Amsterdam Mohawks. In 18 innings, he boasts an identical 1.00 ERA and WHIP, while struggling opponents are hovering around the Mendoza Line.

Across the continent, Madison Nickens and A.J. Lee are still adjusting to the Alaskan League. Both have struggled at the plate, posting batting averages below .200 through eight games. But Lee has been perfect in the field for the Mat-Su Miners—he has not committed an error in 69 combined innings between third base, shortstop and second base. Nickens has been perfect defensively as well, not committing an error in 58 innings in the outfield.

Pro-Terps Update: 6/14/16

By Ben Harris

In his first full season in the Minnesota Twins farm system, OF LaMonte Wade is tearing up the Class A Midwest League. The star of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wade, the Twins’ 27th ranked prospect, leads the league with a .433 on-base percentage to go along with a .309 batting average. After starting the season on a 12-game hitting streak (18-for-44), his presence both in the outfield and at the plate has fueled the Kernels.

He’s made just one error in the field, ranks 13 in the league in batting average and sixth in OPS (.869) and sits tied with a team-high five stolen bases. His outstanding plate discipline—40 walks to just 23 strikeouts—continues to drive his success. Wade will represent the Kernels in the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 21, and participate in the Home Run Derby.

After an early May promotion for LHP Adam Kolarek to Tampa Bay’s Triple-A Durham Bulls, the southpaw has posted a 4.20 ERA in 15 innings of work out of the bullpen. Kolarek projects as a lefty-specialist in the bigs, and has held left-handers to a .158 batting average with 14 strikeouts and seven walks during his time in Durham.

Also in the Rays system is 2015 third round draft pick 2B Brandon Lowe. In his first professional season, Lowe started slowly but has raised his batting average nearly 90 points and his OBP from .200 to .364 over the last two months. According to MLB.com, he is ranked as the Rays’ 29th best prospect. Lowe has reached base safely in 36 of his 46 games on the year, including 11 multi-hit games. His .261 batting average is sixth-best on the team, while his OBP ranks fourth.

In 10 starts for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs advanced-A ball), RHP Jake Stinnett is 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .233 against him, with 43 strikeouts and 19 walks. He’s come back down to earth after jumping out to a 1.99 ERA in his first four starts with a 0.75 WHIP and .156 batting average against.

In short-season A ball in the New York-Penn League, RHP Kevin Mooney is two-for-two in save opportunities for the Auburn Doubledays. He’s held opponents scoreless in nine of 15 appearances this season, with a 5.40 ERA overall and 4.00 ERA in his last nine innings.

In 31 innings this season, LHP Zach Morris’s 3.48 ERA ranks fourth-best of any reliever on the Lakewood BlueClaws in the Class A South Atlantic League.

In eight starts, LHP Jake Drossner has posted a 4.70 ERA and 1-5 record for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers while striking out 9.63 per nine innings.

LHP Alex Robinson, a member of the Minnesota Twins short-season rookie ball affiliate in Elizabethton, Tennesee, will begin his season on June 23. He is ranked 26th by MLB Pipeline, one spot ahead of Wade.

After transitioning into a full-time reliever role for Toronto, LHP Brett Cecil posted an ERA under 2.90 for three consecutive seasons. In his first game in 2016, he tied Craig Kimbrel’s MLB-record with 38-straight appearances without allowing an earned run, dating back to June 24, 2015. Since then, however, his ERA has more than doubled to 5.23 from last year’s mark. Cecil was placed on paternity leave in May following the birth of his daughter before suffering a torn lat. He has missed the last month and recently began throwing on flat ground. No return date has been set.

2016 Season Award: Terps’ Top Pitcher

By Ben Harris

For the majority of the season Brian Shaffer manned the Sunday slot in the rotation, suppressing opposing offenses at the tail end of nearly every series as the consummate blend of Friday and Saturday starters Mike Shawaryn and Taylor Bloom. And for a Maryland team that struggled with consistency series toimg_0617-7.jpg series, let alone day-to-day, Shaffer served as a much needed season-long stopgap.

While he didn’t exhibit the swing-and-miss stuff of Shawaryn that rung up 97 batters in 99 innings, or the single-digit walks of fellow sophomore Bloom, Shaffer proved a devastating combination of the two. He walked just 13 batters on the year, four more than Bloom but half as many as Shawaryn, and did so in a team leading 103.2 innings. And while his 2.60 ERA was only 14 points higher than Bloom’s team-leading 2.46, he kept opponents off the bases more effectively than his two counterparts. Shaffer’s WHIP was a team-best 0.88 and contributed to another team-low with 33 runs allowed.

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The lack of base runners, and the best of both Bloom’s command and Shawaryn’s ability to punch out hitters made him a formidable foe for any day of the week, let alone potentially series-deciding Sunday games. In games where he got the ball, the Terps went 10-5. In Shawaryn’s starts, Maryland went 8-7. With Bloom on the hill, the Terps managed just a 6-8 record.

Shaffer led the Terps to six wins in eight series-deciding games, seven that entered Sunday tied one game apiece and a win in the second half of a Friday doubleheader that secured a series win over Ohio State. Two more of his starts—at Iowa and hosting Rutgers—salvaged a win and prevented the Terps from getting swept in conference matchups.

Shaffer played an unquestionably large role in Maryland avoiding a sweep in each of their 14 weekend series. Michigan State was the only other Big Ten team to not suffer a sweep all year. Sweeps can be the glaring Achilles’ heel for a team in playoff contention, as the Terps were. And because they hadn’t gone winless in any series, they had a shot to play themselves into the playoff conversation as the season wound down. Although Shaffer did all he could to clinch a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance for Maryland, his numbers, and their corresponding rankings atop the Big Ten leaderboards, spoke volumes of his contributions despite entering the year with just 11 collegiate starts under his belt.

2016 Brian Shaffer (w/ B1G rank): 2.60 ERA (10), .209 BAA (5), 103.2 IP (T1), 75 Ks (10), 34 looking-Ks (3) 8 Wins (T2), 3 CG (T3), SHO (T1)

— Ben Harris (@Ben27Harris) June 4, 2016

It was a sweep at the hands of Maryland to the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes that jumpstarted the Terps’ winning ways, raising them two games above the .500 mark for the both the first time and for the remainder of the season. After that point—excluding one 3.1 inning start against Purdue (four-earned runs) when Bloom’s rolled ankle presented Shaffer with a surprise Friday start—Shaffer threw 54.1 innings, walked six batters and struck out 43 with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP when his club needed him the most.

Not only did his eight-inning, three hit shutout on May 15 prevent a sweep from the under .500 Scarlet Knights in the second to last series of the year, it allowed the Terps to clinch a conference tournament appearance with just two wins against a potent Michigan State club in the season’s final series instead of a sweep. And it was on that following Sunday in East Lansing with the series tied 1-1 and the Terps’ playoff hopes resting squarely on his shoulders that Shaffer shone brightest, gritting his way through the game after having his fourth pitch smoked back up the middle off his right knee.

He battled through eight innings in the Terps’ 6-4 win that clinched their third-straight conference tournament berth. Six days later on the brink of elimination, he once more extended his team’s season. This time, it was not only the best outing of his breakout sophomore campaign, but arguably the best start of any Terrapin pitcher all year. He tossed a complete game two-hitter, walked none, struck out eight and didn’t allow an Indiana Hoosier to reach second base.

As a daunting mixture of the best parts of Bloom and Shawaryn’s games, Shaffer made a name for himself, giving the Terps a luxury few teams across the country had: a young Sunday starter with pinpoint control, strikeout ability and an ability to keep runners off the base paths.

Stay tuned throughout the off-season as the MBN staff details their picks for the Terps’ 2016 MVP, breakout freshman and most improved player.