Pro Terps Update 9/12/17: Minor League Wrap-Up

Adam Kolarek made his major league debut back in June with the Tampa Rays, but was then sent down after a few weeks with the big club. However, thanks to September roster expansion, Kolarek earned a trip back to the bigs — doubling the MLB Maryland representation. That and more in this edition of the Pro Terps Update.

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

Brett Cecil has been the only staple in the big leagues for the Terps for several years now, and his first season with the Cardinals has been a rollercoaster. After a dominant June and a solid July, Cecil was ineffective in August. In 13 innings last month, the lefty allowed 10 earned runs and a .321 batting average against him.

However, Cecil’s 19 strikeouts and two walks in August was by far his best monthly ratio of the season. His 6.92 ERA in the month could be explained by his incredibly unlucky .472 BABIP. Cecil is sporting a 4.15 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with 54 strikeouts over 56.1 innings this season and will still be an important piece for the Cardinals down the stretch in their push for an NL Wild Card spot.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays, AAA)

After making his major league debut June 29, Adam Kolarek was sent back to the minors in late July after making 11 appearances with the Rays. Back in Triple-A, the former Terps allowed only three earned runs and struck out 17 over 10.2 innings with the Durham Bulls, which earned him a September call-up with the Rays.

Kolarek appeared in only one game after being recalled — he allowed one run on two hits and walked one while recording two outs against the White Sox September 3. The 28-year-old lefty has been dominant in Triple-A (1.65 ERA, 9.48 K/9), but his major league stats haven’t been great this season (6.48 ERA, 4.32 K/9). Because of that, Tampa Bay outrighted Kolarek back to Durham on September 4.

OF LaMonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins, AA)

LaMonte Wade put together an all-star campaign for the Lookouts this season, who were co-Southern League Champions after Hurricane Irma prevented them from playing their championship series against the Pensecola Blue Wahoos. He finished the season hitting .292 with seven home runs and 67 RBI and ended up with more walks (76) than strikeouts (71). Wade’s .397 on-base percentage was good for third-best in the Southern League, and he was a key park of Chattanooga’s semifinal series victory.

The 23-year-old outfielder hit .278 in the five-game series, with his most important knock coming in the ninth inning of game five. With the Lookouts trailing the Montgomery Biscuits 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Wade led off the frame with a single and came around to score when Jonathan Rodriguez ended the game with a walk-off two-run dinger.

Wade, who is the Twins No. 17 overall prospect, will now head to the Arizona Fall League to play with the Surprise Saguaros so the Twins can get another look at him before Spring Training. And he already has something in common with one of his coaches.

2B Brandon Lowe, Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays, AA)

It was an all-Terps matchup in the Southern League semifinals, but Wade’s team got the better of Brandon Lowe’s. However, Lowe still had an incredible season. After hitting .311 with a .927 OPS in High-A, Lowe was promoted to Double-A. He hit only .253 in 24 games with Montgomery, but his performance in High-A earned him Florida State League Player of the Year honors.

Lowe went 0-for-7 in the playoffs with the Biscuits, but he should be on track to start at second base for Tampa Bay’s Double-A affiliate next season. He will also have a ranking bump from MLB.com going into 2018.

RHP Jake Stinnett, Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs, AA)

Since coming off the disabled list and being promoted to Double-A on August 5, Jake Stinnett has been almost unhittable out of the Smokies bullpen. He has allowed just one earned run and struck out 14 batters over 14.2 innings. Over his entire 2017 minor league season, Stinnett posted a 1.19 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

Like Wade, Stinnett will also get his chance to further show off his talents in the Arizona Fall League.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Salem Red Sox (Boston Red Sox, High-A)

The Unicorn ended the season in strong form and as the Red Sox No. 7 overall prospect. Mike Shawaryn finished his 2017 season between Single-A and High-A with a 3.81 ERA and 11.29 K/9 in 26 total starts. The 22-year-old righty also ended his season with two of the best starts of his career. Shawaryn struck out 18 batters and walked only two while allowing just two earned over his final 14 innings of the year, including a career-high eight innings on August 27.

LHP Alex Robinson, Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins, High-A)

Alex Robinson was finally able to find his control this season, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.16 in A-Ball, which earned him a call-up to High-A back in July. In 17.1 innings with the Fort Myers Miracle, Robinson posted a 4.67 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. He finished his full minor league season with a 1.28 WHIP and an impressive 12.69 K/9.

INF Jose Cuas, Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers, High-A)

It was again a struggle at the plate for Jose Cuas in 2017. The 23-year-old hit just .187 with a .598 OPS and five home runs this season. Cuas moved around the infield defensively and spent a lot of time at first base despite playing third base at Maryland. However, the former Terp did heat up a little at the end of the season, hitting .258 with four RBI over his final eight games.

RHP Brian Shaffer, Hillsboro Hops (Arizona Diamondbacks, Low-A)

Since being promoted to Low-A in July, Brian Shaffer has been dominant. In 21 innings, the tall righty struck out 21 batters and walked just one. In 24 innings overall in his first minor league season, Shaffer pitched to 3.38 ERA and 0.83 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a .211 batting average.

Shaffer, who is Arizona’s No. 30 overall prospect, was used as a starter, but only for two or three innings at a time. The short outing helped to limit his usage and increase his productivity while getting Shaffer ready to be a full-time starter next season.

SS Kevin Smith, Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays, Rookie)

Kevin Smith, who is ranked as the Blue Jays No. 25 overall prospect, was Maryland’s highest 2017 draft pick (4th round), and he lived up to the hype in his first season. Smith hit .271 with a .778 OPS in 61 games, leading Bluefield with 25 doubles, eight homers and 43 RBIs. He was able to show off his power on August 31.

However, the plate discipline was still a bit of an issue for the former Terp, who struck out 70 times and drew only 16 walks.

RHP Ryan Selmer, Kingsport Mets (New York Mets, Rookie)

Ryan Selmer finished up his first professional season with some impressive numbers. The 23-year-old righty pitched to a 2.14 ERA over 21 innings and converted both of save opportunities. In classic Ryan Selmer fashion, the reliever threw almost double as many ground balls as fly balls, which helped overcome 1.52 WHIP and .284 batting average against. Over his 14 appearances, Selmer allowed an earned run in only three of them.

RHP Jamal Wade, AZL Mariners (Seattle Mariners, Rookie)

The younger Wade was drafted in the 17th round in June, but performed like an early-round draft pick in his first professional season. Over 19.2 innings, Wade posted a 1.83 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while striking out 27 batters and walking only seven.

 

Pro Terps Update: 8/9/17

Brandon Lowe’s Maryland baseball career ended with a broken fibula in the 2015 NCAA Super Regionals. Now, just over two years later, Lowe’s injury is in the past, and he is lighting up the minor leagues in the Tampa Bay Rays’ minor league system. Lowe’s promotion to Double-A highlights this edition of the Pro Terps Update.

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

There were two Terps in the major leagues for a short time this season, but Brett Cecil is now again the only former Maryland player in the big leagues. After a rough start to his first season with the Cardinals, Cecil has settled into the St. Louis bullpen, owning a 3.30 ERA in 53 appearances. The lefty has allowed only one run in his last 7.1 innings, and he put together a pretty impressive performance in his second-to-last appearance.

Cecil’s strikeouts are way down from his usual career numbers, but his stuff has still been effective. Opposing hitters are chasing 36.9 percent of Cecil’s pitches that are outside the strike zone, which is the best mark of his career.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays, AAA)

From June 28 to July 29, there were two Terps in the big leagues. One was Brett Cecil and the other was Adam Kolarek. After eight minor league seasons, Kolarek finally got the big league call up, but didn’t have the most success. The first two appearances of his career were scoreless, but the lefty allowed a run in five of his final nine games. With an unattractive 7.84 FIP and 4.70 K/9 in 7.2 innings, Kolarek was sent back to Triple-A after the Rays acquired left-handed reliever Dan Jennings from the White Sox. Kolarek has allowed just one run and struck out four in three appearances since the demotion.

2B Brandon Lowe, Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays, AA)

Ranked as the No. 18 prospect in the Tampa Bay system, Brandon Lowe had been tearing up the Florida State League with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, and promotion seemed inevitable. Then, on August 2, while leading the league in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.403), OPS (.927) and doubles (34), Lowe finally got the call up to Double-A after setting some Stone Crabs records.

In six games with the Biscuits so far, the former Terp is hitting .208 with a home run and three RBI, and his one long ball came at a pretty important time.

OF Lamonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins, AA)

Lamonte Wade started the season absolutely red-hot for the Lookouts, but he has cooled off a little bit since then. Wade has gone just 5-for-34 (.147) at the plate in his last seven games, and was placed on the 7-day DL Sunday with a thumb injury. However, even with the slump, Wade is still hitting .277 and his impressive .393 on-base percentage is good for sixth-best in the Southern League. He has 10 more walks than strikeouts, and the 65 free passes is the second-best total in the league. Wade also set a new career high for single-game RBI earlier this month.

RHP Jake Stinnett, Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs, AA)

In a 2017 season mostly tarnished by injury, Jake Stinnett finally got some good news this week. After throwing 4.2 scoreless innings on rehab with the AZL Cubs and then making two appearances with the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Stinnett was reassigned to Double-A with the Smokies where he was supposed to start the season. He made his first career Double-A appearance Sunday, working two scoreless innings out of the bullpen and allowing just one baserunner.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Salem Red Sox (Boston Red Sox, High-A)

Mike Shawaryn is universally ranked the best Maryland prospect in the minor leagues, currently ranked ninth in the Red Sox system, but his numbers haven’t completely translated since being promoted to High-A in June. In 53.1 innings with Single-A Greenville this season, Shawaryn struck out 78 batters and walked just 13. In 52.2 innings since his promotion, the righty has struck out 59 and walked 25, with a 4.27 ERA.

The Unicorn has hit a bit of a rough patch, allowing nine earned runs over his last two starts, and the Red Sox have given him nine days in between starts this week to try to regroup.

INF Jose Cuas, Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers, High-A)

A mainstay at the hot corner in his time with the Terps, Jose Cuas has been playing first base lately for the Mudcats. He has flashed the glove on the opposite corner as well, but it’s been difficult for him to stay in the lineup. Since being promoted to High-A on June 22, Cuas has only 12 hits in 80 at-bats (.150) and has struck out 24 times compared to just four walks.

LHP Alex Robinson, Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins, High-A)

Alex Robinson may have the most electric stuff among the Terps in the pros, and he has finally been able to showcase it this season. After really struggling with walks in his first two minor league seasons, Robinson found the control in 2017, and walked only 15 batters while striking out 51 in 38 innings in Single-A earlier in the year.

Those numbers earned Robinson “Twins Minor League Player of the Week” honors in early July. But more importantly, the numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Fort Myers on July 9. Since he was moved up, the lefty has been just as impressive, using his upper-90s fastball to strike out 18 batters in 9.1 innings so far with the Miracle.

RHP Brian Shaffer, Hillsboro Hops (Arizona Diamondbacks, Short-Season A)

Brian Shaffer is the only 2017 Maryland draft pick to have already advanced past rookie ball, and he did so fairly quickly. After allowing just one hit and striking out five over three innings in rookie ball, Shaffer was promoted to Hillsboro on July 20. Since the promotion, Shaffer has struck out 12 batters in nine innings.

The Hops have the tall righty starting, but going no more than two innings to keep his workload down. However, Shaffer was almost part of something special in his last start. After Shaffer tossed two hitless innings Saturday, the Hops bullpen came just three outs away from completing a combined no-hitter. The reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year already ranks in the Diamondbacks’ top 30 prospects.

SS Kevin Smith, Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays, Rookie)

Kevin Smith was Maryland’s highest draft pick in 2017, and he has started his pro career as the everyday shortstop for Toronto’s rookie league team. In 41 games, Smith has slashed .234/.280/.404 with five home runs and 20 RBI. Smith has come up with some big hits, but the strikeouts have been an issue, just as they were during his junior season at Maryland. The fourth-round pick has struck out 47 times while drawing only 11 walks, and is hitting just .162 in his last ten contests for Bluefield.

RHP Ryan Selmer, Kingsport Mets (New York Mets, Rookie)

As a 31st-round draft pick, Ryan Selmer has a steep hill to climb to make it to the big leagues, but he is off to a good start. In 15 innings over 10 appearances, Selmer has struck out seven batters and posted a 2.40 ERA. He has also impressed at the end of games, converting on both of his save opportunities so far.

RHP Jamal Wade, AZL Mariners (Seattle Mariners, Rookie)

If you look at Jamal Wade pro stats on the mound, you’d have no idea he came to College Park as an outfielder. In 9.2 innings in rookie ball this summer, Wade has been lights out, posting a 1.88 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. The righty has used his put-away stuff to record 16 strikeouts while issuing only five walks and holding opposing hitters to a minuscule .147 batting average. Wade also just keeps getting better, as he struck out five batters in two scoreless innings in his last appearance Monday.

Pro Terps Update: 6/20/17

Two former Terps have already signed with their pro teams after last week’s 2017 MLB Draft, while many minor league teams have hit the All-Star Break, with a few Maryland alumni involved.

One of those all stars is former Maryland 2B Brandon Lowe, who appeared in the Florida State League All-Star Game after a dominant first half with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays). Through 51 games this season, Lowe has posted a league-best 1.063 OPS and .433 OBP while launching nine home runs. The 2015 draftee hasn’t played since June 5 due to injury, but he was activated off the disabled list Monday.

While Lowe is slowly trending towards the major leagues, LHP Brett Cecil is still the only Terp in the big leagues. After nine seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason, but has struggled so far in the Cardinals bullpen. His 4.56 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 25.2 innings caused him to lose his spot as the set-up man, but Cecil has started to pull it together lately. The lefty has held opponents scoreless in 12 of his last 13 appearances. He was also able to make a mid-season number change after the Cardinals designated SS Jhonny Peralta for assignment.

With Cecil being the only big-leaguer, LHP Adam Kolarek is at the highest level in the minor leagues among former Terps. Kolarek has thrown 30.1 innings for the Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) and has posted a minuscule 1.48 ERA. He is not on the Rays’ 40-man roster, but the team only has one lefty in the big leagues, so Kolarek could be getting the call-up some time this summer.

Kolarek is the most advanced prospect, but RHP Mike Shawaryn is the top-rated former Terp. Shawaryn is now the No. 11 ranked prospect in the Boston Red Sox system and was promoted to the Advanced-A Salem Red Sox in early June. In 13 starts this season, the righty has pitched to a 4.62 ERA and struck out 89 batters while walking only 18 over 64.1 innings. He has had seven starts with at least eight strikeouts. His lofty ERA is the result of early struggles with Salem and his first start of the season with the Class-A Greenville Drive, when he gave up nine earned runs over two innings.

Another high-rising Terp is OF LaMonte Wade, who is with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). In 64 games this season, Wade is slashing .276/.413/.379 with four home runs and was named to Southern League All-Star Team. His outfield defense continues to improve and the left-handed hitter is actually hitting lefties better so far this season, which bodes well for a potential call-up.

LHP Alex Robinson, who is also in the Twins organization, has had success as well this season with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. Robinson has posted a 3.60 ERA and struck out 38 batters over 30 innings this season, while he continues to pump the fastball close to 100 mph.

Three other former Maryland lefties are also trying to climb their way through the minor leagues. LHP Jake Drossner (Milwaukee Brewers), who made one appearance for the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattler and allowed one run over four innings back in April, has been assigned to the Rookie Helena Brewers, who start their season this week. LHP Zach Morris (Philadelphia Phillies) and LHP Jimmy Reed (St. Louis Cardinals) were both released by their organizations earlier this season.

Like Drossner, RHP Kevin Mooney (Washington Nationals) starts his season this week for the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays. Mooney, who allowed opposing batters to hit only .209 off him last season, should start this year as the Doubledays’ closer, the same spot he held in the Maryland bullpen back in 2015.

RHP Jake Stinnett (Chicago Cubs) has not yet appeared in a game this season for the Single-A Tennessee Smokies as he rehabs an injury. However, the righty did make it into the Cubs’ Top-30 prospects list at the beginning of the season.

As far as 2017 draft picks go, RHP Ryan Selmer (New York Mets) and SS Kevin Smith (Toronto Blue Jays) are the only two Terps to have already signed their professional contracts. Meanwhile, RHP Jared Price (Miami Marlins) has not signed yet, but should start his pro career soon as the redshirt senior can not come back for another year at Maryland.

Pro Terps Update: 4/25/17

The Major League Baseball season is now three weeks old and most minor league seasons have begun, leaving us all to wonder how the former Terps are doing in the pros.

LHP Brett Cecil remains the only former Terrapin in the Major Leagues after he signed a four-year, $30.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason. The 2007 first round pick has made 10 appearances for the Cardinals this season, posting a 5.87 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 7 2/3 innings. As a middle reliever for St. Louis, Cecil struggled early, but has posted six consecutive scoreless outings going into Tuesday. In that stretch, he has struck out five batters and walked only two, helping him earn back a spot as a set-up man in the seventh and eighth innings.

Although there is only one Terp currently in the majors, the next one to get his shot in the big leagues could be LHP Adam Kolarek. The 2010 11th round draft pick has pitched well out of the bullpen for the Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays), posting a 2.35 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 7 2/3 innings. Five of Kolarek’s six appearances this season have been scoreless, and in three of the six he has retired every better he faced. The Rays just placed left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno on the 10-day DL, so Kolarek could be a possible option for his first call up to the big leagues.

While Kolarek has pitched well out of the bullpen, RHP Mike Shawaryn has opened some eyes as a starting pitcher in the Red Sox organization. The Unicorn, as he was known at Maryland, has pitched to 6.23 ERA in four starts for the Single-A Greenville Drive. Despite the inflated ERA, Shawaryn has struck out 27 batters and walked just five, and got some attention in his April 13 start in which struck out eight in five one-hit innings. The 2016 fifth-round draft pick is currently ranked as the 12th-best prospect in Boston’s system, and has struck out at least eight batters in each of his last three starts.

A trio of former Terps are sidelined early in the season. LHP Jimmy Reed started the 2017 season with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals). After throwing a scoreless two innings in his first appearances of the season, Reed was knocked around in his next two outing and was placed on the disabled list. The 2013 sixth round pick is coming off of Tommy John surgery last season, and his ERA has ballooned to 8.10 so far this season.

RHP Jake Stinnett has started the season on the disabled list for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs). The 2014 second-round pick is the 30th ranked prospect in the Cubs system, according to MLB.com, but has not yet pitched this season because of injury. He posted a 4.27 ERA in 20 starts with the Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans last season.

LHP Jake Drossner made just one appearance for the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers) before heading to the DL. The 2015 10th-round draft pick gave up one run on three hits in four innings in his only start this season. Drossner’s current teammate in Milwaukee, third baseman Jose Cuas, has stayed healthy for the Timber Rattlers and is slashing .244/.340/.488 in 41 at-bats so far this season.

As for the relievers, LHP Zach Morris has begun to pitch for the Single-A Lakewood Blueclaws (Philadelphia Phillies). In six appearances this season, the 2015 24th-round pick has pitched to a 3.68 ERA and 1.50 WHIP as a middle reliever.

LHP Alex Robinson has made four relief appearances for the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins), posting a 7.94 ERA. Despite the high ERA, he 2015 fifth-round pick has struck out seven batters in 5 2/3 innings. In his last appearance, he pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, allowing only one hit and striking out three while still throwing gas.

Outfielder Lamonte Wade, who played alongside Robinson at Maryland and in rookie ball in 2015, has since been promoted to the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). A 2015 ninth-round pick, Wade has an on-base percentage of .357 with two home runs and five RBI in 56 plate appearances this season. The brother of current Terp Jamal Wade, Lamonte is the 13th-ranked prospect in Minnesota’s system, and still has that same sweet swing he had in College Park.

Second baseman Brandon Lowe has also made a jump in the Tampa Bay Rays organization after a strong 2016 season. The 2015 third-round draft pick is red-hot through 15 games for the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. Lowe is hitting .388, which is second in the Florida State League, while he leads the league in both OBP (.508) and OPS (1.141).

RHP Kevin Mooney emerged as the closer for the Short-Season Class-A Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals) a year ago, and the right-hander will return there this season. The short-season New York-Penn League will begin in June.

2017 Season Preview: Big Ten Conference

With the college baseball season less than two weeks away, it’s time to look forward to the Big Ten season. The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished with the best regular season conference record, but it was the Ohio State Buckeyes who took home the Big Ten Tournament crown.

The Terps finished sixth in the Big Ten, clinching a spot in the Big Ten Tournament on the final day of the season. Maryland then upset No. 3-seed Indiana twice in the Big Ten Tournament, ultimately reaching the semi-finals before falling to Iowa. Despite the strong finish, the Terps missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Now, with a wide open conference in 2017, Maryland is the consensus favorite according to both D1Baseball.com and PerfectGame.

Projected Big Ten Finish is displayed as D1 Baseball’s projection followed by Perfect Game’s projection. Teams are ordered according to their projected finish. 


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Maryland

Projected Big Ten Finish: 1st/1st

2016 Record: 30-27 (13-11 B1G)

Key Players Lost: RHP Mike Shawaryn, OF Anthony Papio

Key Returning Players: SS Kevin Smith, 2B Nick Dunn

Despite the loss of Papio, the Terps’ lineup comes back for the 2017 revamped and ready to get back to the postseason. John Szefc’s team returns possibly the best middle infield in the country — Kevin Smith and Nick Dunn — to go along with 2016’s freshman sensation Marty Costes in the middle of the order. On the pitching side, Maryland will be without last year’s ace Mike Shawaryn, but a weekend rotation of Brian Shaffer, Taylor Bloom, and Hunter Parsons should be able to fill in nicely. They will also be able to hand the ball off to a nasty back end of the bullpen, which sports a good combination of power (Mike Rescigno) and finesse (Ryan Selmer).


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Nebraska

Projected Big Ten Finish: 3rd/2nd

2016 Record: 37-22 (16-8 B1G)

Key Players Lost: INF Jake Placzek, INF Steven Reveles

Key Returning Players: OF/LHP Jake Meyers, OF Scott Schreiber

2016 Maryland vs. Nebraska: Did not play

2017 Maryland vs. Nebraska: April 7-9 @ Nebraska

Behind Maryland, Nebraska may be the top contender for the Big Ten title in 2017. The Huskers bring back most of a roster that finished second in the conference in 2016, including two-way star Jake Meyers, who hit .326 at the plate and posted a 1.42 ERA on the mound. Joining Meyers in the lineup again this season is Scott Schreiber, who led the conference in slugging percentage and home runs last season. If Nebraska stays healthy, they can be part of an exciting two-horse race for the top spot in the Big Ten.


Michigan

Michigan

Projected Big Ten Finish: 2nd/4th

2016 Record: 36-21 (13-10 B1G)

Key Players Lost: OF Cody Bruder, DH/LHP Carmen Benedetti

Key Returning Players: INF Jake Bivens, LHP Oliver Jaskie

2016 Maryland vs. Michigan: Did not play

2017 Maryland vs. Michigan: March 24-26 @ Maryland

Michigan finished second in batting average and first in on-base percentage in 2016, but the big bats in that powerful offense will not be back in 2017. The Wolverines will be without their entire starting outfield from last season, which included .372 hitter Cody Bruder, .326 hitter Carmen Benedetti, and .298 hitter Matt Ramsay. Along with the lineup turnover, Michigan  is also losing ace Brett Adcock, who allowed opposing hitters to bat only .190 last season. Junior Oliver Jaskie willl have to step up on the mound while junior Jake Bivens will need to pick shoulder the offensive load for the Wolverines in 2017.


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Projected Big Ten Finish: 4th/3rd

2016 Record: 32-24 (15-9 B1G)

Key Players Lost: LHP Caleb Baragar, LHP Kyle Hart

Key Returning Players: OF Craig Dedelow, OF Logan Sowers

2016 Maryland vs. Indiana: 2-0 in Big Ten Tournament

2017 Maryland vs. Indiana: April 28-30 @ Indiana

The 2017 Indiana Hoosiers will bring back almost their entire lineup from 2016. Freshman all-american Luke Miller returns after hitting .282 last season, and will be joined again by outfielders Craig Dedelow and Logan Sowers, who both project to be important contributors in 2017. The issue for Indiana this season will be the pitching staff, which lost its entire weekend rotation and its best reliever from last season. In 2017, the Hoosiers will have to rely on less experienced starters like sophomore Jonathan Stiever for help on the mound.


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Michigan State

Projected Big Ten Finish: 5th/5th

2016 Record: 36-20 (13-11 B1G)

Key Players Lost: IF Jordan Zimmerman, LHP Cam Vieaux

Key Returning Players: 2B Dan Durkin, RHP Ethan Landon

2016 Maryland vs. Michigan State: 2-2 (0-1 in Big Ten Tournament)

2017 Maryland vs. Michigan State: April 21-23 @ Maryland

Michigan State had the best pitching staff ERA in the Big Ten in 2016, but they will be without 2016’s best two performers on the mound in 2017. Cam Vieaux posted the second-best ERA in the conference, while his teammate Dakota Mekkes pitched to a conference-best ERA out of the bullpen. However, the Spartans will return the rest of a staff that allowed a conference-low 19 home runs last season. On offense, Michigan State will be without Jordan Zimmerman, who batted .374 in 2016, but will still bring back a good lineup that can compete in the conference.


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Ohio State

Projected Big Ten Finish: 7th/6th

2016 Record: 44-20 (15-9 B1G)

Key Players Lost: INF Nick Sergakis, OF Ronnie Dawson

Key Returning Players: C/INF Jalen Washington, RHP Seth Kinker

2016 Maryland vs. Ohio State: 3-0

2017 Maryland vs. Ohio State: Not scheduled

Of all of the Big Ten teams, Ohio State may be taking the biggest hit this season. The Buckeyes are losing six of their regular position players from last year’s team, including Nick Sergakis and Ronnie Dawson, who both hit over .330 in 2016. As for the rotation, the Buckeyes will be without their top two starting pitchers from last season, including first-team All-Big Ten selection Tanner Tully. Ohio State does have plenty of freshman coming in who could step into starting roles, but they will be have to prove themselves before the Buckeyes can be considered a true conference contender.


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Illinois

Projected Big Ten Finish: 8th/7th

2016 Record: 28-23 (12-12 B1G) 

Key Players Lost: RHP Cody Sedlock, C Jason Goldstein

Key Returning Players: 1B/OF Pat McInerney, RHP Cole Bellair

2016 Maryland vs. Illinois: 1-2

2017 Maryland vs. Illinois: May 5-7 @ Illinois

After a mediocre 12-12 Big Ten performance last season, Illinois is losing its two most productive players from 2016. Starting pitcher Cody Sedlock moved on to the pros after posting a 2.49 ERA and collecting the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year award last season, while catcher Jason Goldstein was also drafted after a season in which he led the Fighting Illini in batting average and on-base percentage. The Illini will, however, bring back most of the rest of their roster, including 1B/DH Pat McInerney, who slashed .301/.373/.456 last season.


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Minnesota

Projected Big Ten Finish: 6th/9th

2016 Record: 36-21 (16-7 B1G)

Key Players Lost: OF/RHP Matt Fiedler, C Austin Athmann

Key Returning Players: RHP Toby Anderson, INF Micah Coffey

2016 Maryland vs. Minnesota: 1-2

2017 Maryland vs. Minnesota: Not scheduled

After winning the Big Ten regular season title and making the NCAA Tournament in 2016, Minnesota projects to take a substantial step back in 2017. The Golden Gophers are losing four of their top five hitters from last season, including Matt Fiedler, who hit .372 with eight home runs and made 15 starts on the mound. The roster turnover for Minnesota continues into the pitching staff, where they have lost 2016 staff ace Dalton Sawyer and closer Jordan Jess. The Gophers now have seven new true freshman on the roster who may need to step up to keep Minnesota competitive in 2017.


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Iowa

Projected Big Ten Finish: 9th/8th

2016 Record: 30-26 (12-12 B1G)

Key Players Lost: OF Joel Booker, SS Nick Roscetti

Key Returning Players: RHP Nick Gallagher, INF Mason McCoy

2016 Maryland vs. Iowa: 1-3 (0-1 in Big Ten Tournament)

2017 Maryland vs. Iowa: Not scheduled

The middle of the Iowa batting order will look much different in 2017. Its top three hitters, including Big Ten hits leader Joel Booker, have all since graduated and will need to be replaced. Possible early lineup struggles will need to be picked up by a pitching rotation that returns its anchor, Nick Gallagher, in 2017. Gallagher pitched to a 2.57 ERA last season and will be the key piece this season if Iowa wants to make a run back to the Big Ten Championship Game.


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Penn State

Projected Big Ten Finish: 10th/10th

2016 Record: 28-27 (12-12 B1G)

Key Players Lost: 3B Jim Haley, RHP Jack Anderson

Key Returning Players: OF Nick Riotto, RHP Justin Hagenman

2016 Maryland vs. Penn State: 2-1

2017 Maryland vs. Penn State: April 14-16 @ Maryland

Coming off a season in which they were almost perfectly average, the Nittany Lions may be looking at a losing season in 2017. Penn State is losing its three most productive hitters from 2016, including Jim Haley, who hit .315 last season. The Nittany Lions will also feel the losses on the mound, where they will be without their top two starting pitchers last season. Penn State will also miss its 2016 closer Jack Anderson, who’s submarine delivery helped him pick up 13 saves last season. Baseball could make for a not-so-happy Valley in 2017.


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Rutgers

Projected Big Ten Finish: 11th/11th

2016 Record: 27-28 (9-15 B1G)

Key Players Lost: C R.J. Devish, LHP Howie Brey

Key Returning Players: OF Jawuan Harris, OF Tom Marcinczyk

2016 Maryland vs. Rutgers: 1-2

2017 Maryland vs. Rutgers: March 31-April 2 @ Rutgers

Rutgers struggled in 2016, and it won’t get any easier this season. The Scarlet Knights have lost R.J. Devish, who was the conference leader in batting average (.375) and on-base percentage (.524) last season, and Howie Brey, who posted a 3.50 ERA in 14 starts. Despite Rutgers’ struggles last season, they did lead the conference with 121 stolen bases, and outfielder Juwuan Harris picked up a conference-best 37 of them. The Scarlet Knights will have to continue to run if they want to improve in 2017.


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Northwestern

Projected Big Ten Finish: 12th/12th

2016 Record: 15-39 (7-17 B1G)

Key Players Lost: LHP Reed Mason, 1B/OF Zach Jones

Key Returning Players: OF/LHP Matt Hopfner, 3B Connor Lind

2016 Maryland vs. Northwestern: Did not play

2017 Maryland vs. Northwestern: May 12-14 @ Maryland

Northwestern struggled in conference play last season, but they will return most of their offense, and those hitters will have had another offseason to get better. The most important returning hitter is Matt Hopfner, who hit .355 in 2016. On the pitching side, however, things are looking bleak at Northwestern. The Wildcats finished last in the Big Ten in ERA and batting average against last season, and they have since lost their only viable starting pitcher, Reed Mason. It will be tough for Northwestern to get outs in 2017.


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Purdue

Projected Big Ten Finish: 13th/13th

2016 Record: 10-44 (2-22 B1G)

Key Players Lost: OF Kyle Johnson, RHP Matt Frawley

Key Returning Players: C Nick Dalesandro, RHP Tanner Andrews

2016 Maryland vs. Purdue: 2-1

2017 Maryland vs. Purdue: Not scheduled

Coming off of a putrid 2-22 conference record in 2016, Purdue comes into this season with a lot of roster turnover. The Boilermakers will be without last season’s top hitter, Kyle Johnson, who batted .318, and top pitcher, Matt Frawley, who posted a 2.78 ERA. Sporting the second-worst pitching staff and worst offense in the Big Ten in 2016, the Boilermakers have nowhere to go but up.

 

Preseason Countdown: Pat Hisle, #15

Maryland Baseball Network is counting down to Opening Day! Today marks 15 days until the start of the 2017 season, so here’s a look at #15, Pat Hisle.

INF Pat Hisle
INF Pat Hisle

PAT HISLE | 15

Year: Senior

Position: Infield

Bats/Throws: R/R

Height/Weight: 5’9″ / 185 lbs.

Hometown: Bethesda, Md.

Previous School: Walt Whitman High School

2016 Spring Stats: 4 G, 1 AB, 1 K

2016 Summer Stats (Gaithersburg Giants, Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League): 30 G, .221 AVG, .302 OBP, .358 SLG, 5 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 7 BB, 16 K

About Pat: As a freshman in 2014, Pat Hisle appeared in 10 games (none of them starts), and became a reliable defensive replacement at both middle infield positions. In 2015, Hisle made four starts in his 13 appearances, hitting .118 with a double. His big impact, however, was in the field, as he entered for the injured Brandon Lowe in game two of the super regional against Virginia and made a highlight diving play at second base.

In 2016, Hisle made four appearances without making a start, and only had one at-bat as a pinch hitter. He played locally over the summer with the Cal Ripken League’s Gaithersburg Giants, hitting .221 with 16 RBI in 30 games. This season, Hisle again figures to see limited action as a late-inning replacement, as Kevin Smith and Nick Dunn have the middle infield positions locked down.

#tbt to Supers against UVA. Can't wait to get back to College Park and start the grind to Omaha! #DirtyTerps

A post shared by Pat Hisle (@pathisle15) on

 

Preseason Countdown: Tayler Stiles, #25

Maryland Baseball Network is counting down to Opening Day! Today marks 25 days until the start of the 2017 season, so here’s a look at #25, Tayler Stiles.

LHP Tayler Stiles
LHP Tayler Stiles

TAYLER STILES | 25

Position: Pitcher

Bats/Throws: L/L

Height/Weight: 6’2” / 223

Hometown: Bowie, Md.

Previous School: Bishop McNamara High School

2016 Spring Stats: 2-3, 35.2 IP, 6.56 ERA, 22 K, 12 BB, .327 BAA

2016 Summer Stats (Silver Spring Takoma Thunderbolts, Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League): 1-0, 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 5 K, 1 BB

About Tayler: As a freshman in 2014, Tayler Stiles made 22 appearances, including three starts, and posted a 4.05 ERA while recording 34 strikeouts. He pitched well enough in the regular season to earn valuable innings in the postseason. Stiles recorded two relief victories at the Columbia regional and pitched 5 ⅔ innings in the super regional against Virginia. He came back as a sophomore in 2015 and made six starts in 14 appearances. He pitched to a 3.46 ERA with 37 strikeouts and eight walks, but his season was abruptly ended in April after being struck in the face by a line drive.

The lefty came came back fully recovered in 2016, making 15 appearances, five of them starts, and posting a 6.56 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 35 ⅔ innings. The Bishop McNamara product figures to yet again be a key part of the pitching staff for John Szefc this season. He could be slotted as the fourth starting pitcher, setting him up to start some mid-week games but also contribute out of the bullpen on the weekends.