Preseason Countdown #3: Top 5 series of 2019

3days

It’s officially game week. Maryland baseball will take on Campbell on Friday to kick off the 2019 season — the second year under head coach Rob Vaughn.

Our countdown has now taken us through all four positional previews: the starting pitchers, the bullpen and the infield and the outfield. Now, let’s preview our top five series of the upcoming season.


5. Creighton University (March 22-24)logo_-creighton-university-bulejays-blue-jay-head-c

Location: Omaha, Neb. 

Maryland travels to the site of the College World Series when they battle Creighton in Omaha. The Bluejays, out of the Big East, have played in the state-of-the-art facility that is TD Ameritrade Park since 2011. A dream for any collegiate ball player is to play at this field, and the Terps get this opportunity in late March.

This is an irregular matchup on Maryland’s schedule, having not faced off against the Bluejays in over 20 years. This will be yet another test for the Terps against a team that had a 34-16 record but did not qualify for any postseason play. 

4. Stetson University (March 8-10) Stetson_Hatters_logo_(2018)

Location: DeLand, Fla. 

The Terps will have to fend off a redemption series when they travel down to the Sunshine State to battle it out in a three-game weekend series with Stetson. Maryland took two out of three a year ago against Stetson in College Park, but the Hatters lasted longer into the spring, making it to the NCAA Super Regionals. They also finished atop the Atlantic Sun conference last spring. This out-of-conference matchup is a key series for the Terps as they shape the beginning of their year.

A likely starter in the series will be Stetson’s Mitchell Senger. The junior southpaw was named to the Preseason All-American Team. He also earned a spot on the Golden Spikes Watch List, the top award in college baseball.

3. University of Minnesota (May 10-12) 1280px-Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_logo.svg

Location: Minneapolis, Mn. 

The Terps will face one of the best perennial teams in the Big Ten in a three-game series against Minnesota. Conference tournament champions last spring, the Golden Gophers made it to a Super Regional last season in what was a dominating year, finishing with a record of 44-15.

The weekend series will take place in Minneapolis in mid-May. It’ll be another late-season test for the Terps, who might be making a similar postseason push as last year at the time of this series. 

2. University of Michigan (May 3-5) 1280px-Michigan_Wolverines_logo.svg

Location: College Park, Md.

A showdown between two Big Ten teams will bring Erik Bakich back to his former home. The Michigan head coach is returning to College Park for only the second time since he left the position as head coach for the Terps in 2012. The Wolverines swept the Terps a season ago in Ann Arbor, winning the only two games that the teams squared off.

In 2017, when Bakich and the Wolverines came into College Park, the Terps took two of three from a ranked Michigan squad. It was a huge series for a Terps team that narrowly made the NCAA tournament that year.

With a 15-8 conference record a season ago, Michigan will be an immense challenge for the Terps when they begin to round out the regular season.

1. Eastern Carolina University (March 15-17) 200px-East_Carolina_Pirates_logo.svg

Location: College Park, Md.

The biggest series of the 2019 season is a mid-March showdown at home against Eastern Carolina University. Ranked No. 11 in the D1baseball preseason rankings coming off a 44-18 season, the Pirates are the premier team in the American Athletic Conference.

Last season, Maryland played a three-game set at East Carolina and were swept and outscored 26-4. The Pirates went on to host an NCAA Regional, but lost two of three games to end their season.

A name to watch for is Bryant Packard, a junior at ECU. He was named a preseason first team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. As an early-season out-of-conference series, this daunting task could turn into a rewarding experience if the Terps can pull off an upset against a ranked foe. 

Preseason Countdown #4: Outfield Preview

4days

It’s officially game week. Maryland baseball will take on Campbell on Friday to kick off the 2019 season — the second year under head coach Rob Vaughn.

We’ll carry on with our preseason countdown with just four days until the first pitch. We’ve previewed the starting pitchers, the bullpen and the infield. Last up on the positional previews: the outfield.


Sophomore Randy Bednar

bednar

The list of returning Maryland starting outfielders is short: Randy Bednar. He played in 44 games last year, the most of anyone in the Terps freshman class.

Seniors Zach Jancarski and Will Watson graduated, while junior Marty Costes left a year early after he was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2018 MLB Draft. With just one year under his belt, Bednar is now the most experienced outfielder Maryland has returning.

Bednar played a majority of his games in right field, and it’s still unknown if he’ll remain in that spot moving forward. At the plate, Bednar will look to improve after hitting .208 a season ago. His six home runs, though, were tied for the third-most on the team and the most among returning hitters.


Junior transfer Caleb Walls Walls082818_02.jpg

Walls is one of three transfers head coach Rob Vaughn brought into College Park this season with the ability to play in the outfield. Last season, he played at Pasco Hernando State College after spending two years at George Mason.

Walls played in two different outfield positions at George Mason, starting 10 games in left field and nine in center in 2016. Last year, the outfielder hit a team-high .385 with 58 runs scored, 43 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

With the amount of departures from Maryland’s outfield, Walls could step in entering this season already acclimated to what’s now been three different college programs.


Junior transfer Ben Irvine Irvine082818_01.jpg

Irvine, like Walls, is entering his first season at Maryland. He played two seasons at Northern Essex Community College in his home state of Massachusetts. During his time there, he hit over .330 in both seasons, and lost in the NJCAA World Series last year.

Irvine is coming off a sophomore season in which he was named a second-team All American, and could also bring some college experience to an outfield with a lot of questions still waiting to be answered.


Junior transfer Sebastian Holte-Mancera Mancera090518_01.jpg

Holte-Mancera is the third transfer who also has the ability to play in the outfield, but he’s also listed as a catcher. The junior played his last two seasons at Ellsworth College in Iowa, and was a bright spot in Maryland’s Fall World Series and exhibitions upon his arrival.

The utility player hit .384 with 22 doubles and seven home runs in his last season at Ellsworth. That came off another seven-homer campaign as a freshman, in which he also hit over .300. Whether he’s needed in the outfield or behind the dish to give starting catcher Justin Vought rest, Holte-Mancera is one of seven transfers that could give the Terps more depth in 2019.


Sophomore Chris Alleyne Alleyne090518_01.jpg

Alleyne is a returning face to the Maryland roster, but he didn’t play much last season, and none of that time came in the outfield. But with the number of departures, the coaching staff has tried to turn the sophomore into a potential outfielder for this season.

The former infielder only started seven games as a freshman — primarily as a designated hitter — and only managed two hits in his limited 25 at-bats on the season. He did, however, pick up 31 hits this summer in the Cal Ripken Baseball League.

It’s unclear if Alleyne’s transition to the outfield will turn into a role in any of the three positions in 2019.


Sophomore Michael Pineiro Piniero090518_03

Pineiro was included in our infield preview, with the first baseman job up for grabs after Kevin Biondic graduated after last season. But if he doesn’t end up starting at that position, Pineiro could find himself contributing in the outfield.

While he didn’t play at all as a true freshman, Pineiro spent a majority of his high school career in the outfield in California. While he initially might have been transitioning to a spot in the infield, it’s possible Pineiro could wind up back in the outfield at some point this season.

Pineiro was a standout performer at the plate throughout the Fall World Series and two exhibitions, so his position flexibility gives him potential opportunities in what could be his first season getting on the field.


Freshman Maxwell Costes Costes090518_03

Like Pineiro, Costes was featured in our infield preview at his natural position at third base, but with that spot locked down by senior leader Taylor Wright, that opportunity isn’t immediately available.

It’s a similar situation to the one his older brother Marty faced when he came to College Park several years ago. The elder Costes’ bat was needed in the lineup, so the coaching staff placed him in a position in the outfield with less competition.

With a similar need in the outfield once more, the younger Costes might also end up making that switch to the outfield to fill a void. He’s coming off a senior season of high school in which he hit .392 with nine doubles, six home runs, 21 RBIs and 2018 Baltimore Sun first team All-Metro recognition.


 

 

 

Preseason Countdown #5: Infield preview

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

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


Sophomore first baseman Michael Pineiro Piniero090518_03

After redshirting his freshman year and showing out for the Aggies in the Fall World Series, Pineiro is one of head coach Rob Vaughn’s options to fill the Terps’ gap at first base after Kevin Biondic graduated after last season. With a strong performance during the fall, Pineiro could also find a spot in Maryland’s starting lineup in the outfield or as the designated hitter.


Freshman first baseman Kody Milton Milton090518_01

Milton has shown vast improvements since arriving in the the fall as a first-year Terp, according to Vaughn. The Terps’ head coach added that Milton will likely find himself “in the mix” with everything Maryland does this spring, citing the freshman’s “desire to be great.”

As a senior at Severna Park High School, Milton hit .514 with eight home runs and 35 RBI, ending his career with the Falcons with 21 home runs and 116 hits. At first base, Perfect Game ranked Milton No. 28 in the nation and No. 1 in Maryland.


Sophomore second baseman Tommy Gardiner Gardiner090518_03

After spending time at third base last season, Gardiner has successfully transitioned over to second according to Vaughn. As a freshman, Gardiner started 21 games for the Terps, hitting .162 with a .311 on-base percentage.

This season, the New Jersey-native will be one of three possibilities to fill the holes left after last year. At media day, Vaughn cited the sophomore as a “super steady defender [who] can handle the bat,” and could see a decent amount of playing time.


Freshman second baseman Ben Cowles Cowles090518_05

A former shortstop, Cowles has a chance to start at second for the Terps this season, as well. One of the most competitive players Vaughn says he has ever coached — second only to now-Volunteer Assistant Coach Anthony Papio — the New York native’s athleticism could put him in a prime position when the season begins.

Before Maryland, Cowles ended his senior season at Newark High School batting .512 with a .650 on-base percentage and for home runs. According to Perfect Game, he was ranked the No. 5 shortstop in New York.


Freshman second baseman Josh Maguire Maguire082818_03

Another new player who has held his own is Delaware-native Josh Maguire, who has worked hard to overcome his defensive struggles. If Maguire comes out strong in the box, he, too, could be an option at second according to Vaughn.

Ranked the No. 2 second baseman in Delaware by Perfect Game, Maguire hit .415 his senior year at Salesianum, batting above .300 for all four season with the Sallies.


Senior third baseman Taylor Wright VBSVZTBXVAYMWHZ.20170912225046

After transferring to Maryland last season, Wright is one of four seniors for the Terps this year. The Vancouver native started 44 games for the Terps last season, batting .230 with 25 RBIs and a .319 on-base percentage.

Growing more comfortable at third over the offseason, Wright rounds out the left side of Maryland’s infield. Between Wright and Lee, the left-side pairing’s “intense work ethic” is what makes them a strong duo, according to Vaughn.


Freshman third baseman Maxwell Costes Costes090518_03.jpg

Costes finds himself in a similar situation to the one his old brother Marty experienced when he came in as a freshman several years ago, before he was drafted last year and opted to forgo his final season in College Park.

With third base occupied by a senior leader, Costes likely won’t have immediate opportunities at his natural infield position. But with a depleted outfield after last season, Costes could transition to the outfield just like his brother did for Maryland for three seasons.


Senior shortstop AJ Lee Lee090518_05

Lee started all 54 games at shortstop last season after sliding over from third base, batting .232 with a .375 on-base percentage, 36 walks and 11 hit by pitches. After putting in work in the offseason and spending time after practice taking extra grounders, Lee has the potential for a solid performance his second year as Maryland’s shortstop.

The senior is also one of the three team-appointed captains, according to Vaughn, who added that between Lee and third baseman Taylor Wright, the Terps’ left side has shaped up to be one of the strongest he’s coached.


Sophomore catcher Justin Vought Vought090518_01

After serving as backup to senior Justin Morris last year,  Vought will be the primary catcher for the Terps in 2019. As a freshman, Vought started 20 games and batted .174 with three home runs, 12 hits and a .296 on-base percentage. This season, Vought is also one of three team-appointed captains and the only returning catcher on the roster. 


Freshman catcher Zach Doss Doss082818_02

Doss shined in Game 2 of the Fall World Series this past fall, supporting the Aggies in the first of two comeback wins. Before joining the Terps, Perfect Game ranked Doss No. 66 nationally and No. 1 in Maryland after his time at North Point High School. In his senior season, he batted .593 with four home runs.


Junior catcher Tavan Shahidi Shahidi090518_05

Shahidi is one of the seven transfers Vaughn brought into College Park this season, one that also features a large 11-member freshman class. The junior from Iowa Lakes Community College slashed .336/.445/.611 with 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 43 RBIs before joining the Terps for the 2019 season.


 

Preseason Countdown #6: Bullpen preview

6days

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

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


Senior RHP John Murphy Murphy082818_03.jpg

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

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


Junior RHP Nick Turnbull Turnbull090518_08

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


Junior RHP Elliot Zoellner Zoellner090518_01.jpg

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


Sophomore LHP Sean Fisher Fisher090518_06

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


Sophomore LHP Grant Burleson Burleson090518_01

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


Sophomore RHP Mike Vasturia Vasturia090518_01.jpg

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


Sophomore LHP Billy Phillips Phillips090518_05

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


Junior LHP Tuck Tucker Tucker090518_02

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


The Freshmen

Heine082818_01
Sean Heine

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

Vail090518_05
Andrew Vail

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

Glock090518_03
Will Glock

 

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

Burke090518_04.jpg
Sean Burke

 

 

.

Preseason Countdown #7: Starting pitchers preview

7days

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

Now, with just seven days left until the Terps take on Campbell in the season-opener, it’s time to shift our efforts to what’s to come in the next few months — beginning with a breakdown of Maryland’s definite and potential starting pitchers for the 2019 campaign.


Senior RHP Hunter Parsons RMZBYNJDDYBZPMM.20150924191225

This time last year, there was a clear starting weekend rotation and questions marks for the midweek roles that never seemed to disappear. With healing injuries and unproven newcomers, senior Hunter Parsons taking the mound on Friday nights is really the only sure thing when it comes to the Terps’ starting rotation.

The right-hander was a breakout pitcher for Maryland last season. He led the pitching staff in nearly every statistical category, including wins (5), innings pitched (89) and strikeouts (62). He also led the starters with a 3.44 ERA and a 2.3 K/BB ratio.

There was no shortage of unforgettable moments with Parsons on the mound, which featured two complete games in March. The latter came against NCAA Super Regional bound Stetson in a dominant two-hit complete game shutout.

Parsons began last year as the Sunday starter, where he overcame an eight-run outing in his first inning of the season. After that performance, the righty shined for the remainder of his junior campaign and finished it in the Friday night role that he’ll return to this season.


Junior LHP Tyler Blohm YFZMWOKWXYQKPRI.20160916193835

The only other definite piece of Maryland’s weekend rotation is southpaw Tyler Blohm, who has spent each of his first two seasons in that role. However, he might not be ready for the the start of the season.

At spring sports media day, head coach Rob Vaughn confirmed that the injury that sidelined Blohm at the end of the last year might prevent him from being ready for the 2019 campaign. Blohm has been back on the mound in practices, but it’s unknown when he’ll take the mound for the Terps for his junior season.

Blohm took a slight step back last season after winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2017. After posting an 8-6 record with a 3.48 ERA, the lefty had a 4.10 ERA last year and dealt with an injury by the end of the season. He was just named to D1baseball’s top college prospects list this week, so when Blohm eventually gets back on the mound, a bounce-back season could be his last in College Park heading into the 2019 MLB Draft.


Sophomore RHP Mark DiLuia mark diluia

The rest of the rotation is still quite unclear heading into the season, including the Sunday starter and midweek roles. Last year, though, right-hander Mark DiLuia started in 12 games — the most of the Terps’ freshman class.

His primary role for most of the year was starting midweek games, where it took some time for DiLuia adjust to college competition. When injuries starting popping up in the weekend rotation with Maryland’s Friday and Saturday starters, DiLuia played a huge role in trying to fill in when the the rotation became disfigured.

With nine new pitchers on the roster this season, DiLuia might not be needed in the same starting role he was in a year ago. But if needed, the sophomore has a dozen starts under his belt already.


Junior RHP Zach Thompson Thompson082818_02

After transferring from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a Division III school, right-hander Zach Thompson was forced to sit out last season. Now, he’s making a strong case for a weekend rotation spot with a year of watching from the bench behind him.

Vaughn raved about Thompson at spring sports media day, noting the eight batters he struck out in three innings of an intrasquad scrimmage. With Blohm’s status uncertain heading into the season, Thompson could slide into his role for the time being. Thompson and Blohm are former teammates from their high school days at Archbishop Spalding.

Thompson started in nine games during his time at St. Mary’s College — the most on the team. He tossed one complete game while striking out 56 batters and walking only 17 in his one season with the Seahawks.


Freshman RHP Daniel O’Connor OConnor090518_04

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Maryland baseball offseason is the emergence of right-hander Daniel O’Connor. A Maryland native from Calvert Hall College High School, he joined the team as a walk-on in the fall.

O’Connor was one of the stars of a highly successful Calvert Hall team in 2017, one that went 27-4. Last spring, the righty was named to the All-MIAA team before coming to Maryland.

Vaughn also talked very highly of O’Connor at spring sports media day. The freshman walk-on might also find himself in the rotation at some point, whether it be in midweek matchups or potentially on the weekends.


Freshman RHP Trevor LaBonte Labonte082818_02.jpg

Right-hander Trevor LaBonte is another freshman who could make his way into at least a midweek role for the Terps in 2019. Maryland struggled to win or find consistent quality pitching in midweek games last season with a lack of available arms, but Maryland’s large incoming class at least gives Vaughn and his staff options.

LaBonte is coming off an unheard of senior season at York High School in Maine. He went a flawless 10-0 with an 0.83 ERA, earning him the Western Maine Player of the Year. The three-sport athlete is now in College Park, and he could be another instant contributor from the freshman class.


Sophomore LHP Drew Wilden Wilden090518_01

Like Blohm, left-hander Drew Wilden is also in Maryland’s rotation plans according to Vaughn, but he might not be ready for the start of the season either.

After joining the Terps as one of their top recruits, Wilden missed his freshman season after receiving Tommy John surgery. He just recently got back onto the mound and might not be ready for meaningful game action just yet.

While Wilden’s status is also uncertain heading into the season, Vaughn did say to look for him to continue to make strides back from injury and potentially jump into the starting rotation.

Preseason Countdown #8: Blohm named to top prospects list

8days

Maryland baseball left-hander Tyler Blohm was ranked No. 316 on D1baseball’s college Top 350 prospects list released Wednesday. He is the only Terrapin to be featured.

After Blohm won the 2016 Maryland High School Gatorade Player of the Year award, the Baltimore Orioles selected him in the 17th round of the MLB Draft. Instead of turning pro, the Severna Park native took his talents to his flagship university.

Blohm went 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA during his freshman season, holding opposing hitters to a .227 batting average. His eight wins ranked second in program history for a freshman.

The southpaw’s dominant first season included 71 strikeouts in 75 innings over 16 starts. He was the only freshman on the team to regularly start in the weekend rotation.

Blohm’s standout season garnered attention from around the conference, as he was named the Big Ten freshman of the year and was unanimously selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He was also included in two college baseball sites’ All-American teams.

During his sophomore season in 2017, Blohm became the Saturday starter in the rotation behind right-hander Taylor Bloom. But Blohm struggled at times to replicate his abundant success from a season earlier, and his numbers began to drop. By the end of the year, he was removed from the rotation as he nursed an undisclosed injury.

Rather than returning to the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Falmouth Commodores for the second straight year, Blohm took the summer off ahead of what could be his final season at Maryland. He’ll look to return to his freshman form ahead of the 2019 MLB Draft in June, which he’ll be eligible for again.