Pro Terps Update: 7/5/2017

Maryland baseball has had a busy few weeks, but former Terps have been making headlines as well. Multiple Maryland players have signed professional contracts after being drafted, while others are excelling at higher levels.

Adam Kolarek, who was called up last week by the Tampa Bay Rays, continues to come out of the bullpen and pitch well. He appeared against his hometown team, the Orioles, on July 1. Kolarek has now pitched 2.1 scoreless innings for the Rays, allowing just one hit. 

Kolarek joins Brett Cecil as the only Terps in the MLB. Cecil, a fellow left-handed reliever, has been throwing the ball very well as of late. His ERA was 5.66 a little over a month ago, but is now 3.69. He has not given up a run since June 7, and just turned 31 a few days ago.

With Kolarek graduating to the big leagues, several other Terps are tearing it up in the minors. RHP Mike Shawaryn has continued to impress with the High-A Salem Red Sox (Boston Red Sox). In his last two starts, the right-hander has pitched 12 innings, striking out 11 while surrendering just one run.

Elsewhere in High-A ball, 2B Brandon Lowe is continuing his All-Star season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays). Lowe has five hits in his last four games, and leads the Florida State League in average (.333), OBP (.420), slugging (.593) and doubles (27). 

LHP Alex Robinson is having his most consistent professional season with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins). Robinson has an ERA just over 3.00, and is striking out nearly 12 batters every nine innings. His fellow Terp in the Twins system, OF LaMonte Wade, is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). Wade has increased his average to .280, and has more walks (54) than strikeouts (46).

3B Jose Cuas is hitting under .200 this year with the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and High-A Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers), but has been walking a lot, with an OBP near .300. RHP Jake Stinnett of the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs) has still not seen any action yet as he returns from an injury.

Numerous Terps have started their professional careers over the past few weeks. RHP Ryan Selmer, who was assigned to the Kingsport Mets (New York Mets) of the Appalachian League, has thrown two scoreless innings on the mound. SS Kevin Smith started out in rookie ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays). He began his professional career very slowly, hitting .161 in his first seven games, but has five hits in his last three games, including three doubles.

RHP Brian Shaffer, a sixth-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks last month, has made two appearances, one in rookie-ball and one in Short Season-A. The tall right-hander struck out two in his first inning of work for the Short-Season Hillsboro Hops. RHP Jamal Wade, LaMonte’s brother, recently signed with the Seattle Mariners, and has thrown one scoreless frame for the rookie-ball AZL Mariners. 

MLB Draft Preview: RHP Taylor Bloom

Taylor Bloom – RHP

Ht: 6’0”        Wt: 195       Year: Jr.       Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): Severna Park, Md. (Riverdale Baptist High School)

2017 Stats:

G: 18 (17 GS)  IP: 89.1   ERA: 3.83    K/9: 5.34      BB/9: 2.52    H/9: 10.18

Arsenal: Fastball (86-88), Changeup, Curveball

Junior Taylor Bloom pitches. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Background: Taylor Bloom made the short trip over to College Park from nearby Severna Park, making 15 appearances and five starts his freshman year in 2015. He had his highest K/9 of any year at Maryland, at 7.41, but posted a 4.04 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 33.2 innings. He established himself as a big game starter in the Los Angeles Regional of the NCAA Tournament, when he allowed one run over six innings in the clinching game over UCLA. 

The 6-foot, 195-pound right-hander’s role expanded greatly in a breakout 2016, as he became a mainstay in the Terps’ rotation as the Saturday starter. He posted a 2.46 ERA, fourth-best in the Big Ten, while pitching 102.1 innings and walking just nine hitters. Not a strikeout pitcher, Bloom whiffed just sixty hitters, instead relying on pinpoint control to induce ground balls and work efficiently. This approach paid off, as he tossed five complete games, including one shutout. The then-sophomore threw 7.1 innings in the Big Ten Tournament against Michigan State, allowing just two runs.

After a brilliant 2016, Bloom regressed some as a junior in 2017. Shuttling back and forth between the Saturday and Sunday roles, he pitched to a 3.83 ERA, and posted good, but not great walk numbers (25 in 89.1 innings). He came up big in the postseason as usual, however, tossing five innings of two-run ball against Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament and eight strong innings against UMBC in the NCAA Tournament.

Outlook: Expectations were high for the righty coming into his junior season, and while he was still a solid performer, he fell short of his stats from a year ago. However, he has proven to be a consistent starter over past two-plus seasons, tossing a combined 191.2 frames with a 3.10 ERA and 1.23 WHIP across his sophomore and junior seasons. Additionally, he has come up big numerous times in important games for the Terps.

Over the past two seasons, Taylor Bloom has pitched 191.2 innings with a 3.11 ERA. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Bloom doesn’t blow anyone away, as his fastball sits in the mid- to upper-80s, and his 5.64 career K/9 is not the shining rate that many teams look for in early rounds. When he is on, though, his pinpoint control allows him to pitch to contact and work deep into games. If he doesn’t locate, however, the right-hander can be hit hard, evidenced by a .289 opponents’ average and 11 homers this season. The key to his draft stock lies in teams’ confidence that he will be able to consistently control his pitches and get ahead of hitters.

If teams read more into his strong 2016 and his flashes of brilliance this season, including his postseason performances, then he could make for an intriguing selection in the mid to late rounds of the upcoming draft.

MLB Draft Preview: RHP Jared Price

Jared Price – RHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 240        Year: R Sr.       Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): Mohnton, Pa. (Twin Valley HS)

2017 Stats

G: 16  IP: 23.2    ERA: 3.04     K/9: 10.27       BB/9: 3.42     H/9: 8.75

Arsenal: Fastball (93-96), curveball, changeup, slider

Previously Drafted: 2012 – 33rd Round, 1010th Overall – New York Mets

Senior Jared Price pitches in relief. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network. 3/8/2017

Background: The longest-tenured Terp player, Jared Price has been on the Maryland roster since 2013. He pitched in 23 games his freshman season, the second most on the team. The big right-hander struggled at times, with an ERA near six and a WHIP over 1.60, but did whiff over 12 batters per nine innings. As a sophomore in 2014, Price made 19 appearances, but struggled to limit damage, with an ERA of 6.80 and a WHIP approaching two.  

He saw limited action in his junior season, making just 11 appearances spanning eight innings, and then saw his senior season in 2016 cut short by an injury after making just two appearances. The Pennsylvania native received a medical redshirt and was eligible to return for a fifth year in 2017.

Price made the most of that extra year of eligibility, and turned in his best collegiate season as a redshirt senior. He made 16 appearances, turning in a 3.04 ERA while striking out 27 batters in 23.2 frames.

Outlook: As a hard-throwing righty that was drafted out of high school, Price had high expectations coming into his time at Maryland. Injuries and ineffectiveness masked his potential for most of his college career, but after a strong 2017 campaign he put himself back on the map. Perhaps his biggest game as a Terp came in this year’s Big Ten Tournament against top-seeded Nebraska. In an elimination game, Price came in and tossed 4.2 innings, with five strikeouts and just one earned run, earning the win and keeping Maryland’s season alive.

Price has a heavy fastball that can reach the mid-to-upper 90’s. That, paired with his power curveball, is enough to attract teams, especially after he proved that he can mix his pitches effectively this season.

While he has the potential from a big right-hander that teams are looking for in the draft, some red flags hurt his stock. At 23, he is older than most of his contemporaries, and considering his injury history, some teams may shy away from him given the high risk. However, he is still likely to go in the middle to late rounds in the draft, given his “stuff” and his performance late in this season.

Maryland gives up lead, falls to WVU

The Maryland Terrapins were leading West Virginia 4-3 heading into the eighth inning, just six outs away from advancing to the regional final. The eighth inning was a different story than the rest of the game though, and Maryland was sent home packing after losing to WVU 8-5.

The eighth inning was just as surprising as it was devastating for Maryland. The Terps pitching had been very solid in the game, and one of their most dominant pitchers, Ryan Selmer was coming in for a six-out save attempt. Selmer ended up going just .1 IP, while giving up four runs.

The Terps, having just blown a lead, did not go down without a fight. Nick Dunn lead off with a home run, and Maryland soon had two runners on with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate, before eventually falling to WVU. MBN Logo

Early on, it was Maryland who was scoring. Marty Costes unleashed a bomb to left in the second to give the Terps an early 1-0 lead. One inning later, it was Brandon Gum who doubled home Justin Morris, putting Maryland up 2-0.

That looked to be good run support for Tyler Blohm, who again did not allow many runs or hits, but struggled to give Maryland length. Blohm went just three innings, not allowing a run while striking out four.

He was relieved by John Murphy, who was thrown in a tough situation in the fourth. Murphy inherited a bases loaded, nobody out situation in just a two-run game. Murphy showed why Head Coach John Szefc has so much trust in him, as he struck out the side to end the inning, and was understandably fired up.

“I felt Murphy was really tremendous today,” Head Coach John Szefc said. “I give him credit, he pitched three innings right in the middle of the game and kept us in it.”

Murphy then was given some run support himself, as Brandon Gum snuck a two-run home run inside the left field foul pole, plating A.J. Lee.

“Yeah, that was big, got a little help from the wind,” Brandon Gum said. “When you can go up 4-0 with our guys on the mound, you definitely feel good about it.”

WVU added one run in the sixth, and two in the seventh to get within one. It looked like they were going to tie the game or take the lead, but Justin Morris came up big behind the plate.

WVU was attempting a suicide squeeze play, but the pitch by Jared Price went array. Morris made a great play to nab the wayward pitch, and also was alert enough to tag out the runner trying to get home.

Maryland, conversely, was struggling mightily offensively. The Terps had success off starter Kade Strowd, who gave up 4 ER in 4.1 IP. Jackson Sigman, the senior reliever for WVU, shut down Maryland until the ninth. He pitched 4.2 innings, striking out seven while allowing just one run.

WVU had plenty of offensive success in both games in the regional against Maryland, scoring nine and eight runs respectively in the two games. They did their scoring in much different ways though, as in the opening game of the series, the Mountaineers hit six home runs, but Sunday’s game they played small ball, not hitting one long ball.

Maryland’s season is over with the loss to WVU. The Mountaineers will go on to face Wake Forest in the Winston-Salem Regional Final.

Maryland explodes for 16 runs, stays alive by beating UMBC

UMBC starter Matt Chanin retired the first seven Maryland batters of the game and it looked like the Terps’ offensive struggles from the day before were going to continue. But the eighth batter for Maryland, Kevin Smith, drew a walk, and there was no turning back.

The Maryland Terrapins came into the game against UMBC having squandered plenty of opportunities to score the day before against WVU. They needed a spark, and Justin Morris teeing off of Chanin for a two-run blast, was just that, as the Terps went on to beat UMBC 16-2.

“That was a really big hit for us,” Head Coach John Szefc said. “We go down early, and we answered quickly.”

Morris gave the Terps a 2-1 lead at the time, and allowed Taylor Bloom to breathe. Bloom gave up a home run to Zack Bright in the second, but was lights out after that. He finished going eight innings, giving up just two runs.

“It’s always good to get that comfort of a lead,” Bloom said. “It’s very settling in my mind that I can just go out there, no pressure.”

He got all the support he needed in the fourth, which was the inning that Maryland had MBN Logobeen looking for. They scratched and clawed their way to a six-run inning, while recording just one hit.

Nick Dunn and Will Watson started the frame by walking, and after an error, Kevin Smith was at the plate with two on base.

Smith tattooed one to center to blow it open. The Terps had settled down and could finally take a deep breath. They added two more in the inning to take an 8-1 lead.

Maryland was not done, as just one inning later they extended the lead to 11-1. On a single by Brandon Gum in that inning that drove in two, Maryland set a program record for runs in an NCAA tournament game.

A memorable moment came when the game was all but decided. Team-favorite Pat Hisle got an at bat late and made the best of it. He lead off the eighth inning with a double to left, and scored soon after on Kevin Smith’s second home run of the day.

Danny Maynard started his first ever game in left field against UMBC, and the bold move by Head Coach John Szefc payed off. Maynard was one of two Terps to record multiple hits on the day.

The Terps took a patient approach to the plate Saturday against the Retrievers. Maryland finished with a whopping 13 walks, three of which came from Brandon Gum.

“We are always stressing to the guys to have good strike zone discipline,” Szefc said. “Technically it is hard to lose a game when you have that many freebees.”

Maryland with the win stays alive in the Winston-Salem regional, and eliminates UMBC. The Terps will take on the loser of the Wake Forest vs. West Virginia game Sunday at noon.

Shaffer struggles, Terps fall to WVU in NCAA Tournament opener

Entering the NCAA Tournament, Maryland ace Brian Shaffer had given up just six home runs all season. But the junior right-hander struggled Friday, surrendering five more long balls as the Terps fell to West Virginia, 9-1, in the opening game of the Winston-Salem Regional.

Shaffer, who labored through his last start as well, lasted just five frames, surrendering seven runs on seven hits, while striking out seven Mountaineers. His struggles with the home run ball put the Terps in a hole that, despite loading the bases twice in the early innings, they couldn’t climb out of.

“His last three outings he has not really located as much as he has the whole season,” Head Coach John Szefc said about Shaffer. “It’s tough, he has been very consistent for us all year.”

The Mountaineers got the scoring started early against the junior righty with three runs in the second. WVU started the inning with a double, and Kyle Davis hit a two-run home run two batters later. Jimmy Galusky soon followed with a long ball of his own to make the score 3-0.

Alek Manoah, who the Terps saw earlier this year when the Mountaineers traveled to College Park, started Friday for West Virginia. The big freshman right-hander did not have his best stuff, but was able to work around his wildness and minimize damage in the early frames. 

Manoah hit four batters and allowed three hits in 3.1 innings, but only allowed one run. Madison Nickens walked with one out in the third, and after moving up on a ground out, scored on a bloop single to right by Zach Jancarski, who collected three of Maryland’s seven hits Friday. 

The Terps loaded the bases later in the inning after Manoah hit AJ Lee and Brandon Gum. Only down 3-1 at the time, they had a chance to pull even, but Marty Costes grounded out to end the threat. 

After Will Watson was hit by a pitch and Kevin Smith singled, Manoah was pulled with one out in the fourth in favor of West Virginia’s usual Friday starter, BJ Myers. Nickens greeted him with a perfectly placed bunt up the third base line to load the bases, but Justin Morris fouled out, bringing Jancarski to the plate with two away. The Terps’ lead off hitter was hit by a pitch, but it was ruled that he did not get out of the way, and was sent back to the batter’s box. He went on to fly out and the threat was squandered for the Terps.

After this, Maryland struggled to mount any rally against the West Virginia ace. At one point, Myers set down eight in a row, and finished going 5.2 innings, not allowing a run.

“I think our at bats were okay for the most part,” Jancarski said. “We just did not capitalize in big situations.”

West Virginia added two more runs in the fifth on a Cole Austin home run. The Mountaineers finished the scoring in the eighth, as Jimmy Galusky hit his second home run of the day.

Ryan Hill came into the game to relieve Shaffer, and went two innings allowing one run. Jamal Wade pitched the eighth for the Terps, and allowed one run.

Maryland will go on to face the loser of Wake Forest vs. UMBC in an elimination game Saturday.

Preview: Winston-Salem Regional

The Maryland Terrapins lost their last four weekend series of the regular season, and needed a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament to solidify their hopes at an NCAA Tournament bid. They reached the semifinals in Bloomington, taking down top-seeded Nebraska in the process, but eventually fell to Northwestern, 6-5, failing to reach the title game. This left the Terps (37-21, 15-9 Big Ten) on the bubble, but they ultimately made the NCAA Tournament as a three seed, and will head to Winston-Salem, N.C., to open their third regional in four years.

Maryland will take on two-seed West Virginia (34-23, 12-12 Big 12) Friday at 2 p.m. in the opening game of the regional, which is double-elimination style. The regional is hosted by the one-seed Wake Forest (39-18, 19-11 ACC), ranked No. 14 in the country, and is rounded out by four-seed UMBC (23-23, 11-9 America East).

The Terps closed out the season on an offensive hot streak in the Big Ten tournament. They scored at least five runs in every tournament contest, and plated eight runs three times, including in two elimination game victories. Kevin Smith went 7-for-20 with a homer and five RBIs en route to being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team. Justin Morris (6-for-17, HR, 4 RBIs) and Brandon Gum (9-for-21, HR, 6 RBIs) also enjoyed success at the plate in the tournament. Maryland’s bullpen was a bright spot in the tournament, as the trio of John Murphy, Jared Price and Ryan Selmer proved especially dominant. Murphy pitched six shutout innings with eight strikeouts, Price closed out Friday’s victory by allowing one earned run over 4.2 innings, and Selmer tossed 7.1 frames of one-run ball across three games.

Here’s a look at the Terps’ competition in the Winston-Salem Regional:

1. Wake Forest (39-18, 19-11 ACC)

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished third in the ACC this year, only behind Louisville and North Carolina, two of the other regional hosts in the NCAA Tournament. They did lose prematurely in the ACC Tournament to the sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes, but nevertheless had an impressive enough resume to host a regional.

The Demon Deacons had a lot of their success this year via the long ball. They hit 96 home runs as a team, one short of Tennessee Tech for most in the nation. Gavin Sheets led the team with 2o homers, while two others (Johnny Aiello and Stuart Fairchild) notched at least 15. Not just a power lineup, however, Wake Forest hit an impressive .308 as a team, and six of the nine regulars hit over .300. Fairchild was named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist for his all-around season at the plate, as the outfielder hit .353 with 15 homers, 59 RBIs, 62 runs scored, and 17 steals. 

On the pitching side, Wake Forest was less dominant, pitching to a 4.15 team ERA. Connor Johnstone anchored the Wake Forest rotation with a 7-0 record and 3.46 ERA in 80.2 innings pitched. Parker Dunshee has been the workhorse of the rotation, starting 15 games and pitching 88.2 innings. His ERA is a bit high at 4.16 but he struck out 98 hitters. Griffin Roberts, the closer for Wake Forest, also had a great season. He finished with the second most appearances on the team to the tune of a 2.31 ERA, and eight saves with a 13.05 K/9.

2. West Virginia (34-24, 12-12 Big 12)

West Virginia and Maryland’s seasons share a lot of similarities. The Mountaineers finished fourth in Big 12, just like the Terps did in the Big Ten, and just like the Terps, they lost to the fifth seed in the first round of their conference tournament. West Virginia struggled down the stretch, just like Maryland, losing their last four weekend conference series of the year. The Mountaineers and Terps faced off this year in College Park, a 7-6 victory for Maryland.

Like Wake Forest, West Virginia is formidable at the plate, with a .288 team average. Jackson Cramer led the Mountaineers with 10 homers and 12 doubles this season, and he was the catalyst for the Mountaineers against Maryland, tallying three hits in four at-bats. Cramer had help offensively throughout the year from Kyle Davis (.313/.402/.505, 12 2B, 8 HR, 41 RBI) and Darius Hill (.303, 12 2B, 44 RBIs). As a team, West Virginia is a threat on the bases, as they finished the year with 72 stolen bags, 12 of which came from two-way star Braden Zarbinsky, who hit .339 and also served as the team’s closer. 

The West Virginia pitching staff was inconsistent this season, as only one Mountaineer (BJ Myers) made at least 10 starts.

4. UMBC (23-23, 11-9 America East)

The UMBC Retrievers took home their first American East Title this year, coming in as the two seed. They finished the regular season just 3-6, so their run in the tournament was a little unexpected, although before that, they won five straight ball games. The Retrievers are another team that played Maryland in the regular season that fell victim to a Terps’ comeback. Maryland trailed 2-1 late, but scored four in the sixth, and won 6-2. Andrew Casali, who led the Retrievers in at bats, hits, average, steals, and triples, recorded two of the six UMBC hits against Maryland. Hunter Dolshon went yard that day for one of his nine home runs. Dolshon, the senior backstop, finished with ⅓ of UMBC’s 27 longballs. The Retrievers had seven starters this year, all of which finished the year with an ERA above five. Their team ERA was 5.60, good for 215th in the nation.

Starting Pitching Matchup 

FRI 2 p.m. EST

Jr. RHP Brian Shaffer (7-3, 2.18 ERA) vs. Fr. Alek Manoah (1-1, 3.10 ERA)

WBVSTCBBLFRKCIX.201409242148581Maryland_M_Bar_Primary_Athletic_Logo   vs.    Manoah

As in every series opener this season, Brian Shaffer will take the ball for the Terps on Friday. The junior right-hander had a rare hiccup in his lone start in the Big Ten Tournament. He gave up six runs in the first three innings, but was able to make it through 6.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs total. Shaffer is still in the top 50 in the country in ERA and strikeouts, at 2.18 and 102 respectively, and has been a workhorse all year long, throwing a Big Ten-leading 103.1 innings. He recently was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. 

Alek Manoah will take the hill for the Mountaineers on Friday. Manoah is just a freshman, but has one of the lowest ERA’s on the team, 3.10. His downfall this year has been walks though, as his BB/9 is 5.53. His last appearance was in a wild Big 12 Tournament game against Texas Tech. Manoah threw 4.2 innings, let up 4 ER, and walked five, in a game eventually won by WVU 12-7. Manoah leads to the team in wild pitches, and has more than double as many hit batsmen as any other Mountaineer.