Preseason Countdown #6: Bullpen preview


Maryland baseball season is just one week away. Over the last two weeks, The Maryland Baseball Network has reviewed the best moments of head coach Rob Vaughn’s first year at the helm, highlighted the best offseason performers and broken down several notable things revealed at spring sports media day.

Now, with just six days left until the Terps take on Campbell in the season-opener, it’s time to shift our efforts to what’s to come in the next few months. We’ve previewed the starting pitchers, and today, we continue with a breakdown of Maryland baseball’s 2019 relief pitchers.

Senior RHP John Murphy Murphy082818_03.jpg

For the second straight season, John Murphy will start the season as Maryland’s closer. Murphy picked up four saves last year while posting a 4.26 ERA over 25 innings of work, struggling a bit with his command. It was a bit of a disappointing season for the righty, who posted a 1.71 ERA in 2017, but he still struck out 37 batters last season.

Unfortunately, after being ejected from the final game of the 2018 season against Indiana, Murphy will be ineligible to pitch in Maryland’s first two games against Campbell and Coastal Carolina. But after that, look for Murphy to handle the 9th inning for the Terps.

Junior RHP Nick Turnbull Turnbull090518_08

Nick Turnbull has been maybe the most impressive addition to the Terps bullpen this season. The tall right-hander joined Maryland as a transfer from Harford Community College, and has shown off a good fastball and breaking ball. Rob Vaughn and Corey Muscara could go to Turnbull if they need to close out one of the first two games in 2019.

Junior RHP Elliot Zoellner Zoellner090518_01.jpg

Elliot Zoellner started the 2018 season as a possible starter, but after some rough appearances, the righty settled into the Terps bullpen. Zoellner finished the season with an 11.57 ERA in 16 innings of work, but he was much better in his final few appearances of the campaign after getting fully comfortable with his new sidearm delivery. He then went on to post a 0.64 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings this summer with the Bethesda Big Train in the Ripken League, and looks poised for a breakout season.

Sophomore LHP Sean Fisher Fisher090518_06

Sean Fisher was used heavily in his first season in College Park, working 30 innings and posting a 6.53 ERA with 22 strikeouts last season. The lefty has a lot of movement on his fastball, which is the pitch he throws most of the time. Look for Fisher to again be an option in the late innings for the Terps, especially if he continues to develop his off-speed pitches.

Sophomore LHP Grant Burleson Burleson090518_01

Grant Burleson was another freshman who was used a good amount last year, posting a 6.65 ERA with 16 strikeouts and one save over 21 2/3 innings. He struggled with his command last season, walking 19 batters, but he showed a very good breaking ball that makes him tough against both righties and lefties.

Sophomore RHP Mike Vasturia Vasturia090518_01.jpg

Mike Vasturia is a tall right-hander at 6-foot-5, but he doesn’t throw very hard. Instead, he relies on a big curveball that can get hitters off balance. Vasturia pitched to a 6.41 ERA in 19 2/3 innings last season, but he could see even more innings this season if that curveball is working.

Sophomore LHP Billy Phillips Phillips090518_05

Billy Phillips continued to get better and stronger as 2018 went along, and he even earned a midweek start by the tail end of the season, and finished with an 8.55 ERA in 20 innings. The lefty should be in a middle relief or long relief role this season after showing more progress over the summer in the Ripken League. Phillips struck out 15 batters and walked just two over 15 innings with the Baltimore Redbirds this summer.

Junior LHP Tuck Tucker Tucker090518_02

Tuck Tucker is another junior college transfer who should see some innings out of the bullpen this season. He pitched at New Mexico Junior College and struck out 49 batters in under 40 innings of work. He has good stuff, which is why Texas Tech recruited him hard in high school, and he could be an important lefty for the Terps in 2019.

The Freshmen

Sean Heine

There are four freshman pitchers who should start the season in the Maryland bullpen, and could make an impact similar to that of Fisher and Burleson from last season.

Andrew Vail

Sean Heine, a 6-foot-4 righty from New Jersey, has a good breaking ball and fastball, and is one of the most exciting freshman in the class. He should make an impact on the mound this season. Andrew Vail, a 6-foot-1 lefty, also has some zip on his fastball, and comes from Gloucester Catholic, where the Terps have found some successful players in the past.

Will Glock


Will Glock is a 5-foot-11 right-hander who has good slider and  showed it during the Fall World Series when he recorded the final out of the week. Sean Burke, a 6-foot-6 righty, can give hitters trouble using his good stuff and size.

Sean Burke




Preseason Countdown #10: Meet the newcomers — Transfers


With the Terps losing a bevy of their top contributors from last season, and others who had an impact as well, the 2019 roster includes a lot of new faces.

A large freshman class will help to fill the holes, but head coach Rob Vaughn and his staff also brought in a multitude of transfers to help the Terrapins this season. Let’s meet them all.

JR LHP Tuck Tucker — New Mexico Junior College (JuCo in NM)

Aside from his great name, Tucker is a big left-hander who stands at 6-foot-4. A Texas native, Tucker originally committed to Texas Tech out of high school but never appeared in a game for the Red Raiders. He instead pitched at two different junior colleges  — San Jacinto and New Mexico — over the past two seasons. He has worked as a a starter and a reliever, and struck out 23 batters in just under 26 innings in the Ripken League this summer.

JR RHP Zach Thompson — St. Mary’s College of Maryland (D3 in MD)

Thompson spent all of 2018 with the Terps, but had to sit out the season after transferring from the Division-III level, where he pitched one season at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His fastball moves well and he has a good chance to win a weekend rotation spot this season. Thompson had a great summer in the NECBL, posting a 3.08 ERA in just under 47 innings of work.

JR RHP Nick Turnbull — Harford CC (JuCo in MD)

Turnbull is a tall right-hander who could find himself in some high-leverage situations for the Terrapins this season. He has one of the top fastball velocities on the team this year with a pretty good breaking ball that helped him strike out 15 batters in nine relief appearances this summer in the Ripken League. He comes to Maryland from Harford Community College where he saw time as a starter and a reliever.

JR OF Caleb Walls — Pasco-Hernando State College (JuCo in FL)

Walls will compete to see time in a wide-open outfield this season, and he has a bat that could keep him in the Terps lineup. The 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter batted .385 with a .477 on-base percentage last season at Pasco-Hernando State College in Florida. That was his only season at PHSC, as he transferred there after originally committing to George Mason out of high school and playing there for one season in 2016.

JR OF/C Sebastian Holte-Mancera — Ellsworth CC (JuCo in IA)

The man they call “Sea bass” comes to College Park after he played two seasons at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. Holte-Mancera hit .385 with seven home runs and a .515 on-base percentage there last season and has the ability to play the outfield and behind the dish. He is a versatile player who has thrived at getting on base in his college career.

JR OF Ben Irvine — Northern Essex CC (JuCo in MA)

Irvine is another Junior College star who played the last two seasons at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. He hit .342 there in 2018 and was named an NJCAA Division-III Second-Team All-American. He’s another left-handed hitter who always shows good speed.

JR C Tavan Shahidi — Iowa Lakes CC (JuCo in IA)

Shahidi is another top junior college hitter who spent the last two seasons at Iowa Lakes Community College. He hit .336 with a .445 on-base percentage and 10 home runs in 51 games last season and brings the Terps another good defensive catcher who can also handle the bat.