Preseason Countdown: Wade’s success on the mound paves way for Biondic

Maryland Baseball Network is counting down to Opening Day! To mark the 33 days until the start of the 2018 season, former Terps right-hander Jamal Wade recorded 33 strikeouts in 2017 in his first season as a pitcher.

Before the Seattle Mariners selected Jamal Wade in the 17th round (513th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft, the junior right-hander struck out 33 batters in under 20 innings of work. Wade picked up his 33rd and final strikeout of his junior season during a two-strikeout inning against West Virginia in the NCAA Regionals, just one year after wrapping up his sophomore campaign as a reserve outfielder.

In 17 appearances, he notched one win in his only decision of year, tossing two shutout innings in a 6-0 Maryland midweek victory over William & Mary. Featuring a solid curveball and a fastball that often touched the mid-90s, opponents hit just .208 against Wade at the plate.

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

While he wasn’t a top choice out of the bullpen for the Terps last season, his electric fastball and devastating curveball still warranted a MLB draft selection, which ultimately led him to forego his final season as a Terrapin. Wade’s 5.03 ERA didn’t deter scouts from his potential as a pitcher, as it was just his first season toeing the rubber.

The Owings Mills, Maryland, native came to College Park as one of the top third base prospects in the state, but transitioned to the outfield for his freshman season. His first three hits as a Terrapin were all home runs, and he finished his first year with five homers and 11 RBI in 35 games.

But after taking a reduced role during his sophomore season—earning just four starts—Wade transitioned into a pitcher over the summer in 2016 with the NECBL’s Keene Swamp Bats. The rising junior pitched just 11.1 innings, but allowed just two earned runs with an impressive 21 strikeouts.

Wade wasn’t the first Terrapin in recent history to switch from a position player to a pitcher, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be the last, either. Former right-hander Mike Rescigno, who graduated after last season, began his career in 2014 as an infielder. Seeing time at both first and third base, as well as a designated hitter, Rescigno hit .241 in 26 games as a freshman.

The coaching staff became impressed by his arm, however, and moved him into the bullpen for his final three seasons. He found the most success in 2016, striking out 23 batters in 23 appearances. He, like Wade, was drafted after his junior campaign, but passed on the opportunity to finish out his fourth year in College Park.

California native Jake Stinnett hit five homers as a freshman in 2011 for the Terps, but transitioned to the mound and dominated. In 2014, the then-senior posted a 2.67 ERA across 17 appearances (16 starts), tossing four complete games, including a no-hitter. The right-hander was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 2nd round of that year’s MLB Draft, and finished the 2017 campaign with a 1.19 ERA across three levels of minor league ball.

Kevin Biondic fields a ball at third base. The senior infielder may see time on the mound this spring for the Terps after pitching 16.2 innings in the Northwoods League last summer. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017

There’s reason to believe that another Terps infielder will see time on the mound for the first time in their career this spring. Last summer in the Northwoods League, senior Kevin Biondic hit .254 with five homers in 169 at-bats while tossing 16.2 innings with 11 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA.

In the midst of going 7-for-9 and reaching base in 11 of 13 plate appearances during the Fall World Series, he also pitched a pair of innings during the intrasquad scrimmages. It was the first time Biondic has pitched for Maryland, and although it was just in a scrimmage, he toyed with a knuckleball throughout the fall.

With the departure of key arms such as Ryan Selmer, Jamal Wade and Tayler Stiles, the Terps won’t have the deepest bullpen in the Big Ten in 2018, so Biondic has a shot to contribute out of the pen this spring. He also has the potential to turn into a more consistent two-way player than Wade and Rescigno. Wade appeared in just six games in the outfield last season following his transition to the mound, while Rescigno didn’t see a single at-bat once he switched into a reliever.

Freshman DiLuia transitioning to college life, ready to help Terps win

Last November, Maryland Baseball Network’s Dylan Sinn profiled Mark DiLuia, who had just signed to pitch for the Terrapins. A year later, Sinn sat down with DiLuia as the freshman prepares for his first season of college baseball. 

Mark DiLuia is late. The freshman and I had planned to meet so we could talk about his transition from being one of the best high school pitchers in Illinois last year to one of 10 members of Maryland baseball’s 2017 recruiting class.

Before our scheduled meeting time, DiLuia (pronounced De-LU-ya) lets me know, while apologizing earnestly, that the team’s practice longer than expected, so he won’t be able to make it on time. When he arrives later, he extends a giant hand, grasps mine firmly, and apologizes again. I assure him it’s not a problem. He never mentions that it is birthday.

“He’s kind of got that, I hate to use this comparison, but that Derek Jeter quality of, you just kind of look at the guy and are like, ‘Man, that kid’s a winner,’” Corey Muscara, Maryland’s pitching coach, said of DiLuia. “The way he stands, the way he carries himself, the way he talks, the way he listens, how he learns. He’s just very mature beyond his years. More than the stuff and the body that’s what’s impressed me the most [about him].”

To be clear, DiLuia’s “stuff” is impressive, as well. He has a fastball, change-up and slider in his repertoire, all three of which he can throw for strikes. The lanky 6-foot-3 right-hander’s fastball has touched 90 mph in fall workouts, which led Prep Baseball Report to rank him the No. 11 high school player in Illinois just before his senior season at Marian Catholic High School.

During that senior season, DiLuia planned to work on the command of his pitches, a goal he says he accomplished.

Terps freshman Mark DiLuia, pictured here in high school, was ranked as one of the top prep pitchers in Illinois. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in June, but declined, opting to come to Maryland. Photo courtesy of Mark DiLuia

“All around I felt I was a complete better pitcher [compared to my junior year],” DiLuia said. “I could throw any pitch I wanted in any count and I just felt all around like more of a pitcher than my junior year, when I was more of a thrower.”

The improvements paid off as the Homewood, Illinois native went 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA and Marian Catholic reached the 3A state championship game. DiLuia pitched his team to the title game with a complete-game 4-3 victory over the 30-9 Champaign Central in the semifinal.

His performance as a senior was good enough that the Texas Rangers selected him in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. DiLuia had signed to attend Maryland in November 2016 and he decided to go to college instead of entering the professional ranks. He arrived in College Park in August after a turbulent summer for the Maryland baseball program.

In mid-June, then-Head Coach John Szefc left Maryland to take the same position at Virginia Tech, and took Pitching Coach Ryan Fecteau with him. Fecteau was one of the coaches who had recruited DiLuia to the Terps, and his departure left the incoming pitcher feeling a little uneasy about the change.

“It was definitely a little nervous at one point because I was like, ‘Man if [then-assistant coach Rob] Vaughn’s not coming back, then I won’t know anyone on the coaching staff,’” said DiLuia, who got the news of the coaching change the same day he had beaten Champaign Central.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Mark DiLuia. Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

The uneasiness was allayed somewhat when DiLuia found out Vaughn would step into Szefc’s role as the head coach, and assuaged even more after he talked to Muscara, Fecteau’s replacement, in early July.

“Definitely was a sigh of relief when I found out Coach Vaughn would be back here,” he said. “After I talked to Coach Muscara on the phone for the first time, I was pretty excited to get the ball rolling. He seemed like he was pretty amped up and he seemed like he knows what he’s doing.”

Once he saw his new protégé pitch, Muscara was excited too.

“I think the thing that impresses me the most is his tempo and timing,” the former St. John’s coach said. “The other day at practice he was 86-90 [mph] and he hadn’t thrown all summer, so we’re still building him up, and it’s easy. So when you see a kid who’s throwing the ball that easy and can command the ball, you know there’s a lot more in the tank. He’s going to be a kid that throws consistently in the low 90’s, he might even touch the mid-90’s while he’s here.”

Muscara’s comments are somewhat at odds with how DiLuia views his own velocity, which he says he has struggled to increase over the last several years.

“The last couple of years I’ve been kind of upset with myself, I haven’t really seen a big jump in velocity, but I just keep telling myself, keep working harder, keep messing around with different things and the velocity will come,” DiLuia said.

One aspect of the freshman’s quest to throw harder has been an attempt to put on weight through diet and strength training.

“More mass equals gas, as Coach Muscara says,” DiLuia said, laughing.

Despite his impressive performance in fall workouts so far, he is not sure what is role on the pitching staff will be when the season starts in February. He isn’t too concerned about it, though; he just wants to help the team.

“Whatever it is, Sunday guy, weekday starter, coming in in relief, any opportunity I get to throw, I’ll be happy with, and I’ll make the most of it whenever I get the chance,” he said. “In the end of the day it’s all about getting wins and whatever I can do or whatever the team can do to get one more on the ‘W’ side I’ll be more than happy with.”

Featured image courtesy of Mark DiLuia.

Maryland baseball releases 2018 schedule

Maryland baseball released its 2018 schedule Tuesday afternoon, and the Terps will begin their season with a three-game series on the road against Tennessee starting on Feb. 16.

Maryland will continue its recent trend of playing an early-season SEC road series, doing so against Alabama in 2016 to start the year and then last season against LSU. The Terps defeated the Volunteers, 10-9, in their last meeting in 2016 during the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, North Carolina. Tennessee finished 27-25 overall in 2017.

Maryland went 38-23 in last season, earning the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps rattled off three wins in the conference tournament after losing their first game, but were eliminated by Northwestern in the semifinals. After a one-year hiatus, Maryland returned to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons, where it earned a No. 3 seed in the Winston Salem Regional.

The Terps will participate in a tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina (Match 2-4), which will include Ball State—an opponent from last season—and Radford. Instead of participating in a second tournament like last season, the Terps will visit East Carolina from March 16 to March 18. The Terps and Pirates last played during a tournament in 2016.

Maryland will take on four nonconference opponents that earned a spot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware and Radford. Overall, though, only seven of Maryland’s 26 opponents this season qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year. 

Maryland’s four home-and-home series include William & Mary, VCU, Delaware and James Madison. Maryland will play a pair of midweek matchups against North Carolina (March 20) and West Virginia (May 1) during the regular season, like it did last year.

Every game this season—home and away—can be listened to
LIVE on the Maryland Baseball Network.

The Terps, who went 20-3 at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium in 2017, will begin their home schedule with a three-game series starting on February 23 against Army, who the Terps last played and swept back in 2011. The Terps will also host out-of-conference opponents Bryant (March 9-11) and Stetson (March 23-25). Maryland welcomed Bryant to College Park last season, but haven’t played Stetson since 2003.

The Terps will begin conference play by hosting Northwestern from March 30 to April 1. The Wildcats came to College Park last season, defeating the Terps in two of three games. The Terps beat Northwestern to keep their Big Ten Tournament hopes alive, but couldn’t replicate the result the following day and were eliminated in the semifinals. Maryland will also host Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers in conference play.

Like last season, Maryland will travel to Lincoln and Bloomington to take on Nebraska and Indiana.  The Terps will also visit Michigan and Michigan State as the other two conference road series. It’ll be a tough conference road slate, as three of Maryland’s four opponents all made the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Big Ten Tournament will be played from May 23 to May 27 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

Morris, Dunn lead Old Liners to victory in Fall World Series opener

Mike Vasturia’s curveball dropped in, freezing Randy Bednar for strike three. The 6-foot-7 right-hander pumped his fist, having worked out of a bases loaded jam to close out the game and send the Old Liners home with a 5-2 victory over the Aggies in the opener of Maryland’s Fall World Series.

Second baseman Nick Dunn and catcher Justin Morris, both coming off summer playoff MVP honors, stayed hot in the opener , driving in three runs collectively in the victory, while right-hander Taylor Bloom tossed four solid innings of two-run ball. Second baseman Kevin Biondic collected three hits for the Aggies, and third baseman Taylor Wright drove in both runs.

Morris, who won Ripken League LCS MVP in July, got the Old Liners off to an hot start in the second. After Richie Schiekofer singled with one out and came around to score on an error, the senior catcher lined a two-out double down the right field line, scoring Dunn to give them an early 2-0 lead.

“Two out hits, that’s what can win a game,” Morris said. “I was just looking for a fastball to hit and try not to do too much with it. It’s pretty easy to hit with this lineup we’ve got over here, if it’s not you that’s gonna get the hit, the next guy’s gonna step up.”

They added another in the third on Bubba Alleyne’s RBI single through the right side, which scored fellow freshman Michael Pineiro. Clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth, Dunn, the reigning Cape Cod League LCS MVP, lined a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole, extending their lead to 5-2.

Aggie starter Elliot Zoellner lasted just two-plus innings, getting pulled after Alleyne’s single in the third. A pair of freshman lefties, Grant Burleson and Randy Bednar, went the rest of the way for the Aggies.

Bloom, meanwhile, cruised through the Aggie lineup for the first two innings before running into trouble in the third. Zach Jancarski, Tommy Gardiner and Biondic opened the frame with back-to-back-to-back singles to center to load the bases. Bloom struck out Will Watson, but Wright followed with a double just past the diving Pineiro at first, scoring two runs, and knotting the game at 2 for the time being.

Ryan Hill, a mainstay in the Terps bullpen a year ago, came on in relief of Bloom and worked a scoreless fifth, teaming up with Morris for a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. He struggled to find the strike zone to open the top of the sixth, however, walking the bases loaded to open the inning, hastening his exit in favor of Vasturia. The redshirt freshman went to a full count on Watson, the first batter he faced, but set him down. After inducing a pop up from Wright for out number two, he struck out Bednar to seal the deal in the six inning contest.

“I know I’m coming in for a reason, so I just do the best that I can do,” Vasturia said after the game. “It feels awesome [being the one to close it out], I think it gives our team a ton of confidence going up 1-0, but they’re gonna come out hungry tomorrow and they’re a really good team too, so we’ve gotta come out and be ready to play.”

The Old Liners and Aggies will be back at it Thursday at 4 p.m. for Game 2 of the Fall World Series.

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.

Summer Ball Update 7/11/17: Four Terps make Ripken League All-Star squad

As the calendar approaches the middle of July, many Terps are in the midst of fine summer campaigns, including four who earned Cal Ripken League All-Star honors this week. Here’s a rundown of how different Terps are doing around the country.

We’ll start in the Cape Cod League, where left-hander Tyler Blohm has made four appearances, including three starts, for the Falmouth Commodores, pitching to a 4.50 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 16 frames. Fellow Terp pitcher Hunter Parsons has struggled in limited appearances for the Cape’s Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. The rising junior right-hander has made six appearances, all in relief, allowing four earned runs in 5.1 innings, but picking up six strikeouts along the way.

Outfielder Marty Costes and second baseman Nick Dunn have not yet found their rhythms at the plate with the Brewster Whitecaps. Dunn, a 2016 CCBL All-Star for the Whitecaps, is fourth on the team in at-bats (59), but owns a .237 batting average and just three extra-base hits. Costes is hovering around the Mendoza line, hitting just .200, but has still shown strong plate discipline (.373 OBP) and ranks third on the Whitecaps with three homers.

Locally, pitcher John Murphy, catcher Justin Morris, and outfielders Zach Jancarski and Randy Bednar represented Maryland in the Cal Ripken League All-Star Game Monday. Murphy (Bethesda Big Train) pitched a scoreless inning, and owns a 3.31 ERA over five appearances (19 innings) this summer. Morris, who is hitting .347 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 15 contests for the Big Train this summer, walked in his only All-Star Game plate appearance, and threw out two runners from behind the dish. Jancarski leads the Big Train with a .385 average and .512 on-base percentage, and ranks third on the team with 10 stolen bases. Bednar, an incoming freshman, paces the Baltimore Redbirds with three long balls, and his .329 average is the second-best mark on the squad.

Elsewhere in the Ripken League, AJ Lee has heated up after a slow start for the Redbirds. The Maryland third baseman is hitting just .200 on the season, but has three multi-hit contests over his last five games. His Redbird teammates, Mike Vasturia and Jon Dignazio, have not fared as well on the mound. Vasturia has a 7.36 ERA in 11 innings out of the bullpen, but that mark is inflated by a couple rough outings, as the right-hander has given up one run or less in four of his six outings. Dignazio, a southpaw, owns a similar 7.44 ERA in 9.2 innings, and while his 15 walks are worrisome, he has whiffed 12 batters.

A pair of incoming freshmen have impressed with the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. Infielder Tommy Gardiner‘s .351 batting average is second on the team, and he has been especially hot of late, collecting multiple hits in three of his last four games. His teammate, outfielder Richie Schiekofer, is hitting .242 in 11 games, but has come up big this season, collecting a walk0ff hit against Rockville in late June. Senior outfielder Will Watson has made just one appearance for the T-Bolts, going 0-for-3.

Left-hander Zach Guth has made three appearances for the Big Train, allowing four runs (all earned) over two innings of work.

With the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game League, catcher Danny Maynard maintains a .309 average with two homers and 11 RBIs in 18 contests. Right-hander Cameron Enck owns a 2.70 ERA in six contests for the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Newport Gulls. Enck has struck out 16 and walked just five in 20 innings of work this summer.

North of the border, first baseman Kevin Biondic is hitting .247 in 27 games for the Northwoods League’s Thunder Bay Border Cats. The rising senior has launched three homers and driven in 15, and has more walks (14) than strikeouts (13) this summer.