MLB Draft Preview: RHP Jamal Wade

Jamal Wade – RHP

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 205        Year: Jr.        Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): Owings Mills, Md. (St. Paul’s HS)

2017 Stats

G: 17  IP: 19.2    ERA: 5.03     K/9: 15.1       BB/9: 5.9     H/9: 7.3

Arsenal: Fastball (92-94), Curveball

Background: Jamal Wade came out of high school as the No. 1 third baseman in Maryland, according to Perfect Game. The Owings Mills, Maryland, native began his collegiate career with the Terps in 2015, playing in 35 games between the outfield, third base and designated hitter. He showed impressive power in his freshman season, as his first three hits were all home runs. He finished the season hitting .231 with five homers and 11 RBIs, but struggled to make contact at times, whiffing 29 times in just 91 at bats. Wade experienced a sophomore slump in 2016, batting a microscopic .111 in 19 games, as he saw his role reduced, making just four starts. He spent the summer with the Keane Swamp Bats in the NECBL, which is where he found his home on the mound.

Junior Jamal Wade pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

He entered the summer as an outfielder for the Swamp Bats, but when they found themselves down 14-5 and short on arms, Wade volunteered to pitch in mop-up duty. He mowed down the opposition and made 10 more appearances on the mound for Keene, finishing the summer with a 1.59 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work.

The newly converted pitcher first took the mound for the Terps on the road against LSU in February. Wade allowed an inherited runner to score on a single but retired five of the six batters he faced, picking up two strikeouts in the process. He wasn’t used much in the early parts of the season (four times in the first 25 games), but the Terps’ coaching staff liked what it saw and became more committed to him down the stretch. Over the season’s final 28 games, Wade was used 10 times — tied for the third most used pitcher out of the Terps’ pen. Despite his lofty 5.03 ERA, he held opponents to a .208 average and struck out 33 batters in 19.2 innings of work.

Outlook: Wade was a revelation for the Terps in 2017, and he is truly a wildcard when it comes to the draft. His sample size is small, but he exhibited the tools major league teams seek in bullpen arms. Wade’s fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and he is capable of producing a lot of strikeouts when pairing that heater with a devastating curveball. When this combination is on, he can be dominant. He’s posted a 15.9 K/9 ratio in his 17 appearances this season, an average of nearly two strikeouts per inning. However, he’s proven to be erratic at times this season, walking 13 hitters in just 19.2 innings of work, something that he will need to improve upon should he look to compete at a higher level. 

Including his time with the Keene Swamp Bats, Wade has thrown just 31 innings at the collegiate level. This can figure as both a positive and a negative for the junior right-hander. His limited workload means that his arm is fresh, without the wear and tear that many college pitchers have at this point in their careers, which bodes well for his durability down the road. However, without much experience under his belt, many teams may not be comfortable selecting a player with little proven track record in the early rounds.

If a team is enamored with Wade’s stuff and potential and is willing to overlook the small sample size, he could go earlier than expected. Otherwise, it is more likely that Wade comes off the board somewhere in the middle rounds. If and when he gets drafted, the right-hander will have to weigh his options. Should he return to College Park for his senior season, he could have another full year to work on developing his pitches and working on his control. If he were to produce and polish his skills ahead of the 2018 draft, he could very well work his way up the draft boards next year.

Three Maryland pitchers are linked by a common coach: Ryan Selmer’s father

Tayler Stiles, Taylor Bloom and Ryan Selmer. These three pitchers are integral pieces on a Maryland pitching staff that has helped the Terrapins to a 34-19 record this season.

But this trio is bound by more than the fact that they pitch for Maryland. All three hurlers were all coached, at some point, by Matthew Selmer, Ryan’s father. The elder Selmer, who is currently the head coach at Indian Creek High School, specializes in pitching mechanics, and began working with each of the three current Terps at different stages of their playing careers.

Senior left-hander Tayler Stiles joined Matthew Selmer’s 12U Kingston Royals team and was immediately the best power hitter and power pitcher on the team, according to Matthew Selmer. 

“The coaching staff knew [Stiles] would make it to college ball without a doubt, but the question was whether he would make it because of the bat or the arm,” Matthew Selmer said. “As I started working with him, it became evident his arm would carry him.”

Senior Tayler Stiles continues his stellar outing. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/9/2017
Stiles only played under Matthew Selmer through 16U, but he still seeks his former coach out for workouts and lessons every offseason, and the two still speak regularly to talk pitching.

“I can always look to him and ask for advice if I am struggling,” Stiles said. “He has basically taught me everything I know as far as the foundation of my mechanics and I probably would not be where I am without him.”

Stiles and Matthew Selmer worked on more than just pitching mechanics. The southpaw had a “bit of an attitude problem” when he first started playing for the Kingston Royals, which the coach addressed immediately. 

“Stiles was always a fiery competitor and he hated it when things didn’t go his way,” his coach said. “I am one of those old-school guys when it comes to the discipline side. Whenever he pushed my buttons, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull him out of the games, but he responded well, learned how to control himself and is a better all-around baseball player for it.”

Taylor Bloom first started working with Matthew Selmer when he began his career at Riverdale Baptist High School, where Selmer was a coach. The right-hander was already “polished” because of his previous work with pitching instructors, according to Selmer, but still had room to improve.

“I videotaped Bloom’s delivery when we started working together to address some things he could clean up, but he was always a very mechanically sound pitcher,” he said. “Having him at Riverdale Baptist was a pleasure because we knew we could give him the ball and he’d get the job done.”

Bloom posted an 8-1 record with 86 strikeouts and a 0.89 ERA as a senior at Riverdale Baptist. He started in the bullpen when he got to Maryland before carving out a role as the team’s main Saturday starter in 2016, leading the team in ERA and walks per nine innings. 

“I owe a lot of what I have been able to do [at Maryland] to Coach [Selmer],” Bloom said. “He has been with me every step of the way since high school, through years of summer ball, and now he’s still just a text or phone call away if I need help.”

After a breakout 2016, Bloom has struggled during parts of the 2017 season. The junior right-hander went through a slump at the end of March into early April, and Matthew Selmer was in touch with him to help guide him through it.

“I typically try to stay in the background during the season because these players have their own pitching coaches on their teams, but I couldn’t help it during Bloom’s recent struggles,” Matthew Selmer said. “I watched his game tape from his start against Nebraska for hours and reached out to him with some tips.”

Redshirt junior Ryan Selmer fist bumps junior Taylor Bloom. Selmer’s father, Matthew, coached both right-handers during their high school careers. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017
Matthew Selmer maintains a close relationship with the players he has coached, but none closer than his relationship with his son Ryan.

Ryan’s older brother, Matthew Jr., was always “the more talented one,” according to their father. While Matthew Jr. was the star shortstop and pitcher, Ryan was essentially a utility player, filling in wherever he was needed.

The elder Selmer never prioritized Ryan over other players, saying that “he had to work for everything he earned.” Because of this Ryan Selmer took nothing for granted on the field and embraced his father’s tough love.

“Being the coach’s son was never easy,” Ryan Selmer said, “but I am grateful for everything he has done for me. Sometimes you see coaches just play their sons because they’re their sons, but he made me work for everything. I can’t tell you how many times he benched me, but I am a lot better for it.” 

He was “slow and uncoordinated,” according to his father, but things quickly changed when he hit his growth spurt. He was a late bloomer and sprang up to 6-foot-8 during his high school years at Riverdale Baptist, eventually earning his spot on the mound.

“It was fun to watch Ryan develop from a father’s perspective and a coach’s perspective,” Matthew Selmer said. “He didn’t really have any schools after him until a scout came to watch someone else from that Riverdale team and said ‘why is there a 6-foot-8 pitcher throwing 90 [mph] that I didn’t know about?’ From that point, he ended up at Maryland and I couldn’t be more proud of the player he has become.”

What the elder Selmer praises most about his son, however, isn’t what he does on the mound. Ryan has the ability to be light-hearted and brighten the mood around the dugout while still being able to flip the switch when it is time to compete.

“Ryan never had an issue having fun in the dugout, but sometimes he got a little carried away,” Matthew Selmer said. “He eventually found that balance and it has been a joy to see his evolution as a teammate. I believe every dugout needs a Ryan Selmer or two to help maintain a positive attitude.”

Bloom, Stiles and Ryan Selmer have been fixtures on the Maryland pitching staff over the last three seasons. Ryan Selmer has been the team’s most reliable reliever, leading the team with seven saves this season. Bloom has been a staple in the weekend rotation for the past two years, pitching to a 3.34 ERA in 177.2 innings. Stiles has been able to fill in any role necessary, making appearances out of the bullpen and filling in as a spot starter. Matthew Selmer has enjoyed every bit of it.

“Sometimes people think it is the pitchers who are lucky to have knowledgeable pitching instructors, but it is the pitching instructors – like myself – who are lucky to come across talent,” he said. “I lucked into coaching three very talented pitchers, and it is great to see them all having success on the field as teammates at Maryland.”

Five-tool outfielder Richie Schiekofer hopes to be catalyst for Terps

The Millburn Millers (Millburn, N.J.) are 49-10 and have won a state championship since 2015, which is when Richie Schiekofer earned a starting role on the varsity team as a sophomore.

The senior outfielder has provided a spark in the leadoff spot, on the base paths and with his glove, and he is now looking to be that same catalyst for the Terps.

Schiekofer is one of ten players from the class of 2017 to sign his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Maryland.

“I visited as a freshman and loved it from the minute I set foot on campus,” Schiekofer said. “I didn’t really respond to many other schools recruiting me because I had my heart set on Maryland, and when I finally heard from Maryland with an offer I committed immediately.”

Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.
Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.

Connections to coaches, the new facilities and the school’s academic offerings are the primary factors that Schiekofer said went into his decision. If his high school track record is an indication of things to come, the Terps are getting a true difference maker in Schiekofer.

He made his varsity debut as a sophomore and was immediately thrust into the leadoff spot. The outfielder batted .393 with 39 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. The team went on to win a state championship, and Schiekofer was named Second-Team All-Conference and Third-Team All-Group 4. As a junior, he batted .435 with 36 runs scored, 19 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. He was named First-Team All-Conference and Third-Team All-Group 4, but Millburn fell just shy of a second consecutive state championship.

“He will not blow you away with his 60 [yard dash] times, but he is a great base runner with more than enough speed to do damage,” Millburn head coach Brian Chapman said. “He hits for average and can drive the ball with power, particularly to the opposite field. He has a tremendous arm and an unbelievable glove. He is a true five-tool player, which is rare for someone who has not yet played his senior season. His best baseball is still ahead of him.”

Chapman actually believes Schiekofer has a sixth tool in his arsenal – leadership.

Schiekofer spent his sophomore year in left field, but Chapman knew his true position was in center. Chapman called Schiekofer into his office for a meeting to discuss the move, but Schiekofer turned it down. One of his close friends, Nick Minter, was a rising senior, and he wanted Minter to be able to spend his senior season in center field.

Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.
Photo courtesy of Richie Schiekofer.

“He put his hands on my hands and said, ‘Coach, I know I am going to be a centerfielder down the road, but I am going to be fine in left playing next to Nick. If there is a school that doesn’t want me because you have me in left as a junior, then I don’t want that school,’” Chapman recounted. “That is a true leader right there, putting his teammates before himself. Maryland is getting the total package.”

Schiekofer still has one more year of high school baseball and emphasized the fact that his focus is on winning another state championship, but he also has an eye toward the future.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a national championship,” he said. “[Maryland] has improved steadily over the last few years and I do not think a national championship is that far off. I am looking forward to being a part of the team that finally brings it home.”