Pro Terps Update: 4/16/19

Three former Terps started the 2019 season in the majors, and it’s likely more will reach the big leagues for the first time in their careers by the end of the year.

Here’s a look at those pro Terps whose seasons have already started:

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

While Cecil spent part of 2018 as the only Terp in the pros, both Adam Kolarek and Brandon Lowe joined him as major-leaguers by the end of the season. Cecil is still struggling with an injury, however, and is currently on the 60-day injured list.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)

After making his major-league debut in 2017, Kolarek put up stints in the majors in 2017 and 2018, before making the opening day roster for Tampa Bay this season. The lefty started last season in Durham with the Bulls, but got the call up to Tampa after only 31 appearances in the Rays’ AAA-affiliate, during which he boasted a 1.61 ERA.

Kolarek has made nine appearances in 2019 after throwing 34.1 innings for Tampa in 2018. This season, Kolarek holds a 0.00 ERA in 5.2 innings pitched, which include four strikeouts.

2B/OF Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)

Since his major-league debut last August, Lowe proved himself worthy of a full-time spot on the Rays’ roster, signing a six-year contract extension in March.

In his 15 games with Tampa this season, Lowe has stayed hot, batting .302 and slugging .585 with four home runs, including a two-homer game on April 12.  After signing his contract extension, the second baseman has showed Tampa he was worth the cash.

OF LaMonte Wade, Rochester Red Wings (Minnesota Twins, AAA)

Wade made the move up to AAA partway through 2018 after hitting close to .300 with the Twins’ Chattanooga Lookouts. Since the move, the outfielder hit .229 in his 74 games with Rochester in 2018, including 11 home runs.

Now, Wade remains in Rochester, batting .219 in his first 10 appearances, though he has a .375 OBP after working eight walks and putting up seven hits.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston Red Sox, AAA)

Shawaryn quickly ascended the Red Sox’s minor-league system after being drafted in the fourth round in 2016. Last season, Shawaryn started out with the Portland Sea Dogs in AA before making the move to AAA. In Pawtucket, Shawaryn threw a 3.93 ERA in seven appearances, six of which were starts. He went 36.2 innings, striking out 33 and allowing only 16 runs.

After making the Red Sox’s major-league camp to start spring training, Shawaryn is back in AAA. In his 11.1 innings pitched over two starts he’s struck out 14 and allowed four runs on 10 hits and only two walks.

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

Stinnett is currently on the Smokies’ seven-day injured list, according to thecubreporter.com.

SS/3B Kevin Smith, New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays, AA)

Like many former Terps, Smith moved through the Blue Jays’ minor-league system quickly. After spending time with Toronto’s Low-A and High-A teams in 2018, Smith started this season in AA with the Fisher Cats.

So far he’s batting .268 with one home run and 11 hits in 10 games. The season is still young, however, and if Smith’s 18 homers in 83 games in High-A are any marker, Smith may turn things on soon.

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

After struggling with injury early in 2018, Robinson returned to the mound for 25 games with the Miracles, posting a 4.98 ERA before another brief stint on the injured list in late August.

This season, Robinson has been listed on Fort Myers’ seven-day inured list since April 1.

RHP Brian Shaffer, Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays, High-A)

Since his sixth-round draft pick by Arizona in 2017, Shaffer has stayed solid in the minors. This season is the right-hander’s first full season with the Stone Crabs, after Arizona traded him to Tampa Bay in August last year.

Shaffer remains steady on the mound, boasting a 2.57 ERA in seven innings pitched over three relief appearances so far this year. The righty recorded four strikeouts in those three outings, while allowing only two runs on seven hits.

2B Nick Dunn, Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals, High-A)

Dunn spent time in both short-season A and low-A last season after his fifth-round draft pick from the Cardinals. In his 65 games between the two leagues, Dunn batted .253 with three home runs and 14 doubles (all of which came in Low-A).

This year, Dunn started the season in High-A with Palm Beach. In 44 at-bats over 10 games so far, Dunn is hitting .273 with three RBIs and 12 hits, including one double. Additionally, Dunn has only struck out four times so far this season.

OF Marty Costes, Quad Cities River Bandits (Houston Astros, Low-A)

After only four games in short-season A, Costes spent the majority of last season with Houston’s Low-A affiliate. Between the two leagues, the outfielder batted .231 with a .345 OBP.

Now, Costes remains with the River Bandits, hitting .300 in eight games. Among his nine hits so far, Costes has one triple and three RBIs, while he struck out only four times.

RHP Jamal Wade, West Virginia Power (Seattle Mariners, Low-A)

In his first season with the Power, Wade is continuing his dominance on the mound. The right-hander struck out 10 batters in his 4.2 innings of relief so far, meaning of those 4.2 innings, only four outs have not been Ks.

Wade boasts a 3.86 ERA in those two outings, having allowed only two runs on four hits and four walks.

Maxwell Costes wins 3rd Big Ten Freshman of the Week award

Maryland infielder Maxwell Costes picked up hits in all five games last week, including two home runs, helping earn his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week award of the season.

In the Terps’ 3-2 week, which included a midweek win over William & Mary a pair of victories against Northwestern, Costes drove in eight runs while scoring seven times. In addition to his two homers, he also hit three doubles last week.

The Baltimore native now leads the Terps with a .287 batting average, and among qualified hitters, he also leads the team with a .512 slugging percentage and a .419 on-base percentage. Costes is now on a seven-game hitting streak, the longest of his career.

Now up to six home runs this season, Costes is steadily chasing the nine homers his older brother Marty slugged as a freshman for the Terps back in 2016, a mark that led all freshman in the Big Ten.

Costes’ production at the plate over the weekend helped Maryland accomplish a feat that hadn’t happened in over a decade. After winning two of three against both Illinois and Northwestern on the road in back-to-back weekends, the Terps have now won a road series in consecutive weekends for the first time since 2006.

For a relatively young team, Maryland is now an impressive 11-7 on the road and only 6-9 at home in College Park. The pair of road series victories currently has the team in the in the top half of the Big Ten standings with five series remaining.

Maryland freshmen prove they belong, get first at-bats as Terps

maguire AB Indy

When Maryland baseball traveled for the majority of its early-season games, infielder Josh Maguire stayed in College Park. He and catcher Tavan Shahidi would work in extra offensive reps while the Terps spent their weekends on the road.

Oftentimes, players that aren’t expected to receive time on the field are excluded from team travel plans. And to start his freshman campaign, Maguire was one of those players left behind, with the only ways to closely follow games via online video and radio streams.

But head coach Rob Vaughn has shown he has no qualms about fiddling with the Terps’ lineup and rewarding players who prove themselves in practices and in games. That now includes Maguire, who has started in Maryland’s last six games.

It all started with two pinch-hit opportunities two weekends ago against Indiana, when Maguire’s first-career hit left the yard in only his fourth at-bat of the season.

“I couldn’t draw it up any better,” Maguire said on Terps Pregame. “It’s what you dream of … the feeling was awesome.”

Maguire 2AB Sat Indy
Photo credit: Paige Leckie / MBN

Now, in 42 at-bats, it’s clear the freshman’s hard work both with and away from his team early in the year has paid off. The freshman is hitting .231 with six hits, three of which are home runs. He leads the Terps with a .577 slugging percentage.

On Wednesday, freshman Zach Doss found himself in a similar situation to Maguire. While Maguire practiced while the Terps were on the road, Doss took reps in the Maryland bullpen, where he treated every catching rep as if it was a real game, according to senior captain John Murphy.

So, when Doss found himself in Maryland’s lineup suddenly, replacing catcher Sebastian Holte-Mancera in the fourth inning Wednesday against West Virginia, the freshman was ready to face a Division I opponent for the first time.

When Doss entered, Maryland was yet to plate a run and trailed West Virginia 5-0. Vaughn didn’t like the tempo at which the Terps played their first three innings, and gave Doss the nod with the hopes the young catcher would reinvigorate the Maryland lineup.

The Terps eventually lost 8-1, but Doss’ energy behind the plate did give Maryland a boost. In the fifth, the Terps finally put a run on the board after right fielder Michael Pineiro and Doss reached base on a hit-by-pitch and a walk.

Doss’ high-energy personality brings the emotion out of people, Murphy explained. It’s not necessarily what Doss says to his teammates, but the way he carries himself.

“I thought he was the bright spot of the game tonight,” Vaughn said. “That guy shows up [every day] and works. He’s a workhorse. he gets after it, he does his thing every day. [He] infused us [with energy] in a spot that we really needed it.”

Doss-cheer-Saturday
Photo credit: Paige Leckie / MBN

Doss didn’t record an official at-bat until the ninth inning, after he walked in the fifth and was hit by a pitch in the seventh. In the bottom of the ninth, Doss struck out swinging.

But even then, Doss reached base — his third time in as many at-bats for the Terps — when the third strike got past the West Virginia catcher and Doss sprinted to first safely. It jump-started a bases-loaded rally that ultimately fell short.

“I tell these guys, it’s a game of opportunities,” Vaughn said. “Maguire got his opportunity a couple weeks ago, and has taken advantage of it. Doss got an opportunity tonight, and showed us that he can handle it, that he’s more than capable to catch at this level and handle his own business.”

Former Terps Kolarek, Lowe make Rays’ Opening Day Roster

Two former Maryland Terrapins, left-hander Adam Kolarek and infielder Brandon Lowe, will begin the 2019 MLB season on the Tampa Bay Rays’ 25-man roster, manager Kevin Cash revealed Tuesday.

Kolarek, who edged out teammate Emilio Pagán for the final roster spot, didn’t have the best spring, pitching 9.2 innings with an 8.38 ERA. However, Kolarek is coming off a quality 2018 season, which is part of the reason that Cash opted to have him on the Opening Day roster.

After spending 31 games last year with the Durham Bulls (AAA), in which the lefty cruised through 44.2 innings to the tune of a 1.61 ERA and a 10.48 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, Kolarek made his next 31 appearances at the major-league level. In 34.1 innings with the Rays, Kolarek became a reliable lefty out of the bullpen, limiting opposing lefty batters to a .208 batting average.

Lowe, who recently signed a six-year deal with Tampa Bay, now appears to be a player that the Rays view as a major contributor for the foreseeable future. He had himself an outstanding Spring Training after finishing his debut season in 2018 with a .774 on-base plus slugging percentage.

In 53 at-bats, Lowe slashed .377/.411/.698 while tying teammate Avisail Garcia for the team’s most Spring Training home runs at three and leading the team in RBI at 17.

Both former Terrapins have made it a long way since being major contributors on some of the better teams Maryland has seen in the past couple of decades. Prior to getting drafted by the New York Mets in 2010, Adam Kolarek pitched two seasons (2008-2009) with the Terps, making 43 total appearances and recording a 4.26 ERA and 4.68 ERA in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Lowe, who had been drafted by the Rays in 2015, was a major component in helping the Terps make their first two NCAA Super Regional appearances in the school’s history in 2014 and 2015, slashing .338/.448/.509 between the two years.

This is the first time that either former Terrapin will be breaking camp with a major-league team as they’ll open the season Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg when the Rays take on the Houston Astros at 4 p.m. ET.

Former Terps pitcher Ryan Hill signs pro contract

Former Maryland right-hander Ryan Hill signed a professional contract with the Florence Freedom (Ky.) of the Frontier League on March 18, according to the league website.

Hill transferred to Maryland from Grayson County College in 2016, where he put up a 2.29 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched in 2016, and recorded a combined 89 strikeouts over his two years as a Viking.

One of the Terps’ go-to relievers, Hill played at Maryland for two seasons. In 2017, the righty made 29 appearances, including two starts, throwing 46.2 innings while working a 5.01 ERA and striking out 55.

After starting 2018 on the bench due to eligibility issues, Hill made nine relief appearances, finishing his senior year with a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched, while striking out 14.

Right-hander Taylor Bloom, Hill’s college teammate who went undrafted after last season, signed with the Frontier League’s Washington Wild Things last June and made four appearances before being released in July. He is not currently listed on a roster for the 2019 season.

Hill and the Freedom open their season on May 9.

 

A brief injury put AJ Lee’s senior season into perspective

In the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday, Maryland shortstop AJ Lee rounded first base, turned to his dugout and yelled “Let’s go!” after roping a two-out, RBI single that capped a five-run rally that fell short in an 8-6 loss to Creighton.

Lee reached base three times in the series finale: the single in the ninth, a walk in the eighth and a hit-by-pitch in the seventh. The senior holds a .406 OBP in 16 games, a mark that ranks third on the team.

Although the Terps were swept for the second consecutive three-game set, Lee finished the series 4-for-9 with two walks and two hit-by-pitches in his second week back from an ankle injury he suffered on March 1.

And, while Lee is still only batting .231, Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn isn’t concerned. After a rough start to the season, during which Lee began the year 0-for-13, the shortstop seems to be bouncing back.

“AJ’s day-to-day is really, really good,” Vaughn said. “He was hitting like .150, but his quality at-bat percentage was still over 50 percent, so we knew there were good swings in there [and] we knew he was going to be solid.”

The shift in Lee’s momentum correlates with his return from injury. After he took a “funky turn” rounding first on a double against Louisiana Lafayette, the infielder left the game. He remained on Maryland’s bench for the next seven contests, rehabbing his ankle.

Lee singled in his first at-bat when he made his return on March 15 against No. 17 East Carolina, and continued his success in Maryland’s back-to-back midweeks against Elon. He went 3-for-6 against the Phoenix and reached bases seven times, including his first home run since February 23, 2018 against Army.

Though it has paid off, taking time off to recover was frustrating for Lee. It was the first time he had been kept from playing due to injury, but, according to the shortstop, it gave him a new perspective.

“[It] made me appreciate things a lot more,” Lee said. “I just feel a lot more relaxed, a lot more comfortable out there, and [I’m] just having fun and playing the game.”

With his more composed mindset, Lee has rebounded from his slump. In the eight games before injury, he hit .148 with a .314 on-base percentage and only two RBIs. Now, in the eight games since his return, he’s hitting .320 and reaching base 50 percent of the time. He’s also had seven RBIs since his return – more than three times as many as the first half of his season.  

Vaughn’s also seen a vast improvement in Lee’s defense. After recording four errors in those first eight games, Lee has only one error since his return from injury.

That error, however, didn’t come while Lee was at his primary position. Prior to the Terps’ Saturday matchup against the Bluejays, Vaughn learned that center fielder Chris Alleyne injured his thumb. The second-year head coach turned to Lee, who had never started in the outfield, and explained the situation to the senior captain.

Lee told his coach to do what he had to do to win the game.

“You talk about a senior that’s unselfish,” Vaughn said. “[Lee’s] what that looks like, and that’s what we’re going to need moving forward.”

D2IOs-pWoAEdIiH
Photo credit: Maryland Athletics

Lee’s unselfishness and maturity have both developed in the past year, Vaughn said. At the beginning of the fall, Lee not only stayed after practice an extra 30-to-40 minutes to field ground balls, but he encouraged others — specifically the younger players — to do the same.

Lee’s work ethic has “set the standard” of how the team works and “gets after it,” according to Vaughn, who added that it’s Lee’s demand that others follow suit that has really impressed him.

“There’s a lot to like about AJ and the way he’s going about his business,” Vaughn said. “[He’s] really showing these young pups what it takes to compete at this level … I’m proud as heck of him for that.”

Throughout his early-season highs and lows, one aspect of Lee’s game has remained constant: he gets on base.

Last season, Lee started all of the Terps’ 54 games, and while he batted only .232, he reached base almost 40 percent of the time. A speedy and dynamic base runner, Lee’s ability to get on base is one of the most important aspects of his game. 

“A lot of people will look at it and see his batting average and see our record and think that he’s either not doing what he should be or what we’re not doing what we should be doing,” Vaughn said, explaining that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

For Lee, he’s just glad to be back. And for the team, which has lost three of its last four weekend series, it’ll be glad it has its senior shortstop heating up when conference play starts this weekend against Indiana.

“It’s definitely tough when you see your guys out there competing and you can’t really do anything to help them,” Lee said. “[But] I’m feeling pretty good now, and I’m excited to be back.”

Pro Terps Update: Lowe signs six-year deal with Rays, per reports

Former Terrapin infielder Brandon Lowe has signed a six-year extension with the Tampa Bay Rays, per reports. The deal guarantees Lowe with $24 million and includes two club options.

After making his major-league debut last August, Lowe appeared in 43 games for the Rays, batting .233 and ending the season with a .324 on-base percentage in 148 plate appearances.

With his call-up in 2018, Lowe became second Terrapin on the Rays’ active roster, and the third Terp on an active MLB roster in 2018, joining southpaw Adam Kolarek in Tampa Bay and reliever Brett Cecil, who at the time was on the 10-Day Disabled List for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to the draft in 2015, Lowe spent two seasons in Maryland’s infield and helped the Terps make their first two NCAA Super Regionals appearances in program history. He finished his collegiate career with a .338/.448/.509 line, contributing to Maryland’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971 in his first year as a Terp in 2014.

Drafted by Tampa in the third round (87th overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft, it took Lowe less than three years to reach the majors after his entrance into the Rays’ minor-league system in 2016 with the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods

Lowe then spent time with the Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Class-AA Montgomery Biscuits in 2017, during which he hit .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBIs between both clubs. He started 2018 in Montgomery, but moved up to the Class-AAA Durham Bulls after 54 games. Lowe spent 46 games with the Bulls, batting . 304 with 14 home runs and 35 RBIs.

Now, Lowe is hitting .359 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 42 plate appearances with the Rays in the Grapefruit League. With his extension, Lowe is likely to make Tampa’s roster for opening day.

The Tampa Bay Rays have not yet confirmed Lowe’s deal.