Pro Terps Update: 2022 Opening Day

After a highly successful 2021 campaign for multiple former Maryland baseball stars, the 2022 MLB regular season begins today for three former Terps. 

Here’s a look at the Maryland baseball alumni who will begin their seasons at the Major League level.

2B Brandon Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays

One of the main contributors to a Rays squad that won 100 games last season, Lowe set multiple career-highs at the plate. Lowe hit a career-high 39 homers along with 99 RBIs en route to a second consecutive top-10 finish in AL MVP voting. Lowe also led the club in Wins Above Replacement. 

Getting off to a hot start this year is the key to success for the former First-Team All-American. Lowe began last season with a .198 average through June 22. From then on, he flipped the script, hitting .289 with a 1.013 OPS the rest of the way. He struggled in the postseason, going 0-for-18 with nine strikeouts in a four-game loss to the Red Sox in the American League Division Series. 

Shortly after the Rays’ season ended, Lowe met with a handful of members on Tampa Bay’s analytics team to look at what went wrong in the postseason. Earlier this month, Lowe told’s Adam Berry he believes he made the necessary adjustments to avoid a repeat of last year’s postseason slump.

During the offseason, Lowe worked out at home in Nashville, Tenn. In 27 Spring Training at-bats, Lowe hit .296 with one homer, a grand slam on March 25. For the second consecutive year, Lowe made MLB Network’s list of top 100 players, coming in at No. 56.  

1B/OF LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants (10-day IL)

Like Lowe, Wade is coming off a career year at the plate. In his first full MLB season, Wade hit 18 homers with 56 RBI in 109 games for the NL West champion Giants. But he was best known for his late-game heroics. In late-and-close situations, Wade hit .362 in 47 at-bats. Late-and-close situations are defined by plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the hitting team tied, ahead by one or the tying run at least on deck. He also hit .565 with 12 RBIs in 23 ninth-inning at-bats. 

Wade credits Maryland hitting coach Matt Swope for last year’s success. Swope helped fix Wade’s stance and plate approach during the 2020-21 offseason. The Baltimore native met Swope three to four times a week before Maryland baseball’s practices to work on his swing and plan of attack. The pair also worked together in College Park during the 2021-22 offseason.

Wade hit one home run in 11 plate appearances this spring before being sidelined with a bone bruise in his left knee. Wade will begin the season on the 10-day injured list before making his return to the 28-man roster. 

INF Kevin Smith, Oakland Athletics

Smith is making the first Opening Day roster of his young career. A versatile infielder who is expected to see time at shortstop and third base, Smith played his way onto the roster following an excellent spring. In 16 games, Oakland’s No. 16 prospect hit .325 with 3 home runs and 11 RBIs.

The A’s acquired Smith from the Blue Jays in last month’s deal that sent Matt Chapman to Toronto. The former First Team Freshman All-American made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays last season. In 32 at-bats, Smith tallied three hits, including his first big league homer on August 29.

How Nick Dean’s repertoire turned him into Maryland’s ace and leader

Nick Dean arrived at Maryland in 2019 like most freshman pitchers. He didn’t throw particularly hard, wasn’t motivated in the weight room and lacked the necessary confidence in himself. 

Pitching coach Mike Morrison, a former pitcher and College World Series winner at Coastal Carolina who also spent three seasons in the minor leagues, said that’s normal for young pitchers and takes time to develop. Sometimes, he said, it never does. 

“It’s hard for guys coming into college to understand the importance of the weight room when you’ve always been the best player on your team,” Morrison said. “You’ve got to be the best player in the country, no longer the best player on your team, to get paid.” 

Morrison was brought to College Park this offseason, so he hasn’t been alongside Dean through the entirety of his Maryland career. Head coach Rob Vaughn has. 

“We all believed in Nick Dean more than Nick Dean believed in Nick Dean when he first got here,” Vaughn said. “I’ve just seen Nicky grow so much.”

Where Dean has grown the most, Vaughn and Morrison believe, is his ability to mix his four pitches effectively. Dean’s repertoire of a low-90s fastball, mid-80s cutter, high-70s changeup and low-70s breaking ball is unlike any at the college level because he feels confident using any of them in any game situation. 

“There’s a bunch of college kids that have [four pitch repertoires] but they don’t have the confidence to throw them in any count,” Morrison said. “Anytime you have options, it gives you a chance. When all four of them are on, it’s dangerous. You’re kind of like ‘Oh God, that guy’s the best pitcher in the country’, which he might be.”

Dean wasn’t always as confident in his pitches as he is now. In years past, he felt more comfortable throwing some pitches to righties than to lefties and vice versa. He primarily relied on the changeup as a crutch, the curveball was used more as a pitch that can be landed for easy strikes when behind in a count and the fastball was down in the 80s. 

Dean’s newfound interest in the weight room and getting stronger was what led to the increase in fastball velocity, Morrison said. 

“He knows that in order to get drafted highly, he’s going to have to add a few miles an hour,” Morrison said. “I always make jokes that he’s got some definition in his biceps now and he’s starting to look bigger. He actually enjoys going in the weight room now. He’s bigger, he’s thicker, and it’s exciting.”

The increase in fastball velocity has helped Dean’s other pitches, too. The changeup appears even faster — teammate Troy Schreffler Jr. said he has yet to hit Dean’s changeup — and the breaking pitches are more difficult to pick up on. 

The breaking pitch, typically a curveball, has been the pitch Dean’s worked on the most since the end of last season. After his wrist injury that forced him to miss the 2021 postseason, he adjusted his grip in an attempt to make the spin tighter and get more whiffs. 

“The breaking ball, once I eventually could get back to throwing, I just focused on switching up the grip a little bit and having a little tighter spin to it, because before it was pretty loopy and you’d see it right out of the hand,” Dean told reporters after his scoreless seven inning outing against Campbell in February. “So [I’ve made] some big steps that way.” 

Morrison yearned to see the curveball become a pitch Dean felt confident using with two strikes. The biggest change has been the arm speed used when throwing it, which has helped it become a put-away pitch to both right and left-handed hitters and turns it almost into a slider with two strikes, the first year pitching coach said.  

“We talked a lot in the fall about how it doesn’t need to be the epitome of that pitch, like it can be landed for strikes but also you can rip it and get swing and misses with it,” Morrison said. “When you’re that good with your fastball like Dean is, any other secondary pitches are going to develop into a plus pitch. It’s all about him staying tight with his arm and throwing it with aggression. It’s just a matter of arm speeding the heck out of it instead of trying to land it for a strike.”

Perhaps Dean’s best pitch is the changeup, and it’s been that way since high school. At Bensalem High School in Pennsylvania, he switched from a circle-change grip to a more traditional one. 

That change has taken him from an under-recruited high schooler to the preseason pitcher of the year in a power conference entering his third season. 

“In high school, I honestly didn’t have a really good feel for it because I went just a standard circle change, but I slid my thumb to the bottom of the ball and that was just the deal breaker for me,” Dean said. “It really helped it a lot.”

Naturally, Dean began to depend on the pitch a little too much for Morrison and Vaughn’s liking. They got to work to help him correct that. 

“There’s no need to show guys extremely early and over and over again because, like any pitch in baseball, if you continue to use it it’s going to become more hittable,” Morrison said. “It’s harder to throw 50 really good changeups, but you can throw 30 of them at a really high level.”

Part of Dean’s growth has been the aforementioned development of mixing his pitches better and expanding the spots he’s comfortable using them in. Like the curveball, the changeup has taken a step forward, too. 

Coinciding with an uptick in fastball velocity, Dean’s changeup has become one of the best pitches at the college level, and a pitch Morrison trusts to get out of a jam. 

“I tell him every Friday night: ‘when in doubt, shake to your changeup’,” Morrison said. “It’s never the wrong pitch because it is so good. A good changeup, it’s just something guys just have. It’s not really a coachable thing. He almost likes throwing it more to right handed hitters, which is completely blasphemous to me. I’ve never even seen that. It makes it relatively easy for me to call pitches on Friday nights. I always tell him: ‘I can’t call the wrong pitch, you can just not execute it correctly.’ He always loves that.”

Becoming the team’s ace doesn’t come without its responsibilities. One of which is mentoring younger pitchers. 

Dean, Morrison and Saturday and Sunday starters Ryan Ramsey and Jason Savacool share a group text where they exchange tips, advice and pitching secrets. 

“Those guys genuinely care about each other,” Morrison said.  

The real mentoring comes during practice and bullpen sessions. Dean – who Morrison said is not a vocal leader, rather a lead by example type – is watched closely during practices by Ramsey, Savacool and younger pitchers. 

“They want to throw hella changeups all the time now,” Morrison said. “It makes it fun for me when arguably the best pitcher in the program is someone that all your younger guys are trying to learn from. That’s the dream kid to coach.”

In first year as full-time starter, Troy Schreffler Jr. has become one of Maryland’s best hitters

In his first at-bat of the Greenville Regional tournament last June, senior outfielder Chris Alleyne swung on a pitch. Failing to square the ball up, it ricocheted off his bat and at his head. Alleyne fell to the ground and needed to be replaced. 

In came Troy Schreffler Jr., a sophomore outfielder who cycled in and out of the everyday lineup, filling in for injured starters but never sticking with a true position throughout the regular season. 

“I remember as a player, when you’re in and out of the lineup and you’re splitting time and you feel like every time you go in there ‘man, if I don’t get three hits I’m not going to play tomorrow,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn. “It’s just a hard way to be successful.”

A moment that was one player’s worst nightmare – a premature end to a senior season due to a freak injury – was the best thing that could have happened to another. Schreffler Jr. finally had an opportunity to play in a full-time role. 

He slugged five hits and brought in five runs across four games in the regional, including a three hit, two RBI performance in the championship game versus East Carolina. He played centerfield all four games, the spot Alleyne previously manned. 

Finally playing full time for the first time as a Terp, Schreffler Jr. proved that he was worthy of a similar role the following season. Vaughn agreed. 

“That could be the turning point in that kid’s career,” thought Vaughn at the time. “I thought it started last year in that regional.” 

In his first season as a full-time starter in right field, Schreffler Jr. has been Maryland’s best hitter halfway through its non-conference slate. His .346 batting average leads the Terps and he’s top three on the team among qualified hitters in doubles, home runs, on-base percentage and OPS. 

His totals have climbed steadily over his three seasons. The average is up from .275 in 2021, and his on-base and slugging percentages are 92 and 169 points higher than last season, respectively. 

Those numbers won’t stay that high forever, but to date they’ve helped Maryland battle through a tough opening schedule. 

“You’ve been waiting for the consistency to come around,” said Vaughn. “There’s still going to be ups and downs with every hitter… Troy’s not going to hit .500 all year, but his steadiness, his ability to… slow the game down is really the big difference.” 

Schreffler Jr. is eight starts away from matching his 2021 total of 22 starts, and his 18 hits this season are only four behind what he finished with last season. In just over half the number of games, he’s already matched his 2021 finish in runs scored and RBI. The two home runs he’s slugged this season are already a career high for a season. 

“It’s been awesome to see Troy bring it all together,” said Alleyne. “He’s a really toolsy player, super talented. To see him put up the numbers he’s putting up is really impressive. It’s big for our team.” 

Even more impressive for Schreffler, and valuable for Vaughn, is that he’s been one of the team’s best hitters out of the seventh spot in the batting order. He’s hit there in every game this season, coming in behind the middle of the order that features Matt Shaw, Nick Lorusso, Maxwell Costes and Bobby Zmarzlak, creating a rare lineup that is truly seven legitimate threats deep at the plate. 

“A lot of lineups, when you look at them, you’re worried about two guys,” said Vaughn. “Two, three, four, five, maybe those are the guys where if you can get those guys out, then you get a break. By having a guy like Schreffler in the seven hole, that’s one of our best players right now. You get through Bubba, get through Shaw, get through Lorusso, get through Max, get through Bob and you’re like ‘holy cow, where does this end?’ Because then here comes Schreffler.”

Chris Alleyne details decision to return for fifth season

Senior outfielder Chris “Bubba” Alleyne stepped to the plate on June 4, 2021, for the first at bat of Maryland’s opening game in the Greenville Regional tournament against Charlotte. 

A foul ball struck Alleyne in the head, ending his day. Maryland lost that opening game and eventually fell to East Carolina in the regional final a few days later. The Terps were able to climb out of the hole they found themselves in after game one, but did it without Alleyne. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the injury would ultimately end his senior season. 

The 2021 MLB Draft began later that summer. Alleyne – coming off a second team All-Big Ten selection coupled with a .306 average, eight home runs and 22 stolen bases – had a chance to be selected. But his injury cast doubt over whether or not MLB teams would view him as someone worth a selection. 

Throughout the three-day event, Alleyne stayed in close contact with head coach Rob Vaughn. He watched teammates Sean Burke and Ben Cowles get drafted by the White Sox and Yankees, respectively, and Randy Bednar sign as an undrafted free agent with Seattle. 

“We had kind of been in communication all day during the draft and before,” said Alleyne, “kind of letting him know that if it didn’t work out or didn’t really get what I wanted that I was definitely going to come back for a fifth year.” 

The draft ended without Alleyne hearing from an organization. Vaughn immediately reached out with an offer to return to College Park but without trying to sway his decision. 

“I called him as soon as the draft concluded and I said ‘Look, I know this is raw and fresh, but we want you back, we’ll take care of you,” said Vaughn. “But I don’t want to put pressure on you. If you’re ready to move on and sign a pro contract as a free agent, I’m going to be really excited for you, but I think we have a chance to do some special things and you coming back is a huge piece of that.”

Suddenly, Alleyne had a decision to make. He could either sign with any MLB team that was interested in him as a free agent or return to Maryland for a fifth, and likely final, season. 

Two days after their initial conversation following the draft, Alleyne called his head coach. With time to think it over and weigh his options, he came to the decision Vaughn secretly hoped he would. 

“Coach, I’m in,” Alleyne told him. “We’re going to be really good next year and I want to be a part of it.”

“We were fired up,” said Vaughn. 

The decision to come back and exhaust his eligibility was led by his high expectations of this season’s team, one he says has the chance to be special, but last year’s early postseason exit had the team dreaming of more and what could have been. 

“Any season that ends, especially with the injuries we had there at the end, I always feel like there’s something left on the table,” he said. 

The 22-year-old also looks forward to being a mentor for the team’s younger players. Awarded the No. 3 jersey this season, given to the team’s captain who holds on to it for the duration of their college career, Alleyne looks forward to preventing younger players from making the same mistakes he once endured. 

“That’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a freshman,” said Alleyne. “Hopefully I can keep the legacy going. Something I want to do is have a lasting impact on these freshmen and sophomores, just give them my experience and my knowledge from what I’ve learned being here for five years. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs here, so helping them not have as many downs was something I wanted to do.” 

A 5-foot-10 three-year starter in center field, Alleyne led the Big Ten in stolen bases, led the team in runs scored and was top three on the team in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and on-base percentage. Defensively, he finished 2021 without committing an error and has just two to his name over four years in 209 chances. 

Again, he figures to be a fixture in Maryland’s leadoff spot and a leader in the outfield. 

“Defensively, I don’t know if there’s a better center fielder in college baseball,” Vaughn said. “He’s not afraid to go Superman full extension dives, he’s fearless out there. He’s an elite level defender.”

Continuing to clamor over his centerfielder, Vaugn cited his desire to compete, will to win and extensive experience. The end to the 2021 season was a bitter one for every player, but maybe none more so than Alleyne. 

“We have unfinished business,” said Alleyne. “It was a pretty easy decision for me to come back and finish this thing off right.”

Former Terp Brett Cecil announces retirement

Former Terps pitcher Brett Cecil is retiring from baseball, the left-hander announced November 7, via a lengthy Instagram post.

Cecil last pitched in 2018 when he pitched 32 2/3 innings in a Cardinals uniform, recording a 6.89 ERA in 40 total appearances. A rough stretch of injuries kept Cecil off the mound in the remaining two years of the four-year, $30 million contract he signed with St. Louis in 2016. The Cardinals had cut Cecil loose prior to the 2020 season, and the reliever had remained unsigned until his decision to retire.

Before his tenure with St. Louis, Cecil had garnished the reputation as one of Major League Baseball’s top left-handed relievers with the Toronto Blue Jays, who took a chance on him out of Maryland. After four seasons of struggling to keep his ERA below 4.00, Cecil’s 2013-2016 seasons featured a 2.89 ERA and one All-Star selection in his “breakout” 2013 season.

The Blue Jays had drafted Cecil — a DeMatha High School product — out of Maryland in the first round (38th overall pick) in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft after three seasons with the Terps. The Terps didn’t finish above .500 in any of the three seasons Cecil spent in College Park, but his 3.96 ERA and strong 156/52 K/BB in those seasons got him attention in the draft.

With Cecil’s retirement, there are five former Terps with major-league time remaining: Adam Kolarek, Brandon Lowe, Mike Shawaryn, LaMonte Wade, and Kevin Smith.

Maryland Baseball Releases 2022 Schedule

Maryland Baseball has released its schedule for the 2022 season, according to a release from the school Wednesday afternoon.

A year after playing in a 40-game, conference-only schedule, the Terps will welcome back non-conference play as they open the season with a three-game series against the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas. The 2022 season features 56 games as well as the return of midweek games against nearby schools.

The early portion of the season — following the Baylor series — includes a series at Campbell and East Carolina, plus a back-to-back with Virginia Commonwealth. Those four teams are all RPI Top-50 opponents, and the Terps face one more in Dallas Baptist at the end of March. Additional midweek play in February and March features games against UMBC, Delaware, Cornell, Georgetown, Siena, and Towson.

The series with East Carolina will be an intriguing one, as the Pirates were responsible for putting the Terps’ push to a potential Super Regional to an end last season.

The Terps begin conference play just as the calendar turns to April, as they welcome Penn State to the “Bob” as part of eight Big Ten series this season. After hosting midweek matinees against George Mason and Navy, Maryland travels to Minnesota for three games.

Most of the conference play this season occurs in late April and May. From April 15 to the season finale on May 21, the Terps play series against Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan and Purdue. Only three midweek games against Towson, Georgetown, and James Madison, respectively, are played within that span.

The Big Ten Tournament takes place May 24-29 in Omaha, Nebraska, and NCAA Regionals are scheduled for June 3-5.

Coming off a season where Maryland ended up ranked for the first since 2017, there are high expectations that the Terps will make a return to Regional play, but the long road to Omaha begins February 18 in the heart of Texas.

Head Coach Rob Vaughn signs five-year contract extension

Tuesday morning, Maryland Baseball Head Coach Rob Vaughn agreed to a contract extension that keeps him at Maryland through June 2026, per an announcement from University of Maryland Director of Athletics Damon Evans.

Vaughn’s extension follows the season in which he led his team to a pair of postseason victories and to the NCAA Greenville Regional Final against East Carolina. Although the Terps fell short in the tournament, the 2021 season certainly made for a memorable one on Vaughn’s coaching resume.

Maryland’s .636 winning percentage within the Big Ten conference marked a program-high since the Terps joined the Big Ten in 2015, and it was the program’s highest conference winning percentage since the team hit the .700 mark in 1981.

The outstanding regular season — despite only playing against the Big Ten due to a COVID-affected schedule — was also highlighted by a more outstanding second half. Vaughn’s squad went 18-4 in the team’s final 22 games, which was the best record in that span among all Power Five schools.

Overall, the Terps finished second in the Big Ten in 2021 behind Vaughn’s coaching — the team’s best finish since joining the conference.

Since Vaughn become the head coach in 2018, he’s led the Terps to a 93-82 record (.532 win percentage, and he’s helped six Maryland products get drafted into professional baseball. The two most-recent draftees were RHP Sean Burke and SS Benjamin Cowles, both of whom were selected in the first 10 rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft.

Before becoming head coach, Vaughn had long been a member of the Maryland coaching staff as an assistant coach (2013-2014), assistant head coach (2015-2016), and associate head coach (2017). During his time on the staff, he oversaw Terps squads that won NCAA Regionals in back-to-back years (2014-2015) while also setting school records for wins with 40 and 42, respectively.

In the nine years that Vaughn has been a coach at Maryland, the program has accumulated a 273-204 record (.572 win percentage) with eight of those seasons setting a .500 mark or better.

With Vaughn coming back for five more seasons, Maryland Baseball is in great hands as it looks to run back its tremendous success from 2021.

Seattle Mariners sign Randy Bednar as an undrafted free agent

A day after the 2021 MLB Draft concluded, the Seattle Mariners signed Randy Bednar as an undrafted free agent. Bednar is the third Maryland alum expected to play professional ball after this year’s draft, joining Sean Burke (Chicago White Sox) and Benjamin Cowles (New York Yankees).

When Bednar was a freshman in 2018, he was immediately thrown into the fray, starting in 38 of 54 games. While he didn’t come out of the gates crushing the ball as a freshman (.208/.272/.376), he quickly made the adjustments he needed, posting a .893+ OPS in the following three seasons as he became a cornerstone in the Terps outfield.

Bednar never got much national attention let alone attention from the Big Ten conference while at Maryland until his latter two years. He was named a National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason Third Team All-American before the COVID-shortened 2020 season. A year later, he was given the honor of Perfect Game Preseason All-Big Ten.

Perhaps Bednar’s greatest contributions to the program while in College Park came in the Greenville Regional during the 2021 NCAA Baseball Tournament. While Maryland was unable to advance to the Super Regional round, Bednar helped propel Maryland from potentially being knocked out in two games to playing for a winner-take-all match with East Carolina. In the four Greenville Regional games, Bednar slashed .429/.526/.928 with two home runs, earning a spot on the 2021 Greenville Regional All-Tournament Team.

Maryland selected to NCAA Tournament for first time since 2017

For the first time since 2017, the Maryland Terrapins are dancing.

Following the conclusion of the 2021 regular season — a disappointing loss on Senior Day to Indiana — the Terps (28-16) were elated to find out they were named on Monday’s selection show as the No. 3 seed in the Greenville Region.

To put the cherry on top, the Terps also climbed up in the D1 Baseball top-25, being ranked No. 24 to enter the week.

Maryland joins No. 12 East Carolina (41-15), Charlotte (39-19) and Norfolk St. (25-26) in the Greenville Region, and it will meet with the No. 2 seed Charlotte 49ers in game one Friday at 6:00 P.M..

Early in the 2021 season, Maryland had quite the mountain to climb to even be recognized in the Big Ten, but a strong second-half performance jettisoned the Terps to second place in the regular season standings. In its final 21 games, Maryland won 17 contests and won its last seven series.

With this being the program’s first tournament appearance since it was eliminated in regionals in 2017, there are huge expectations for this extremely hot team to carry its regular season momentum into the postseason as the road to Omaha begins.

Baseball is what Maxwell Costes does, it’s not who he is

A panic attack once turned into an anxiety attack at the same time for Maryland baseball star Maxwell Costes, and with several other factors the first baseman realized he needed to seek help.

“After, I would kind of sit there like I need some help or something because I can’t keep going on like this,” Costes said. “This gets to a point now where it’s affecting my play, it’s affecting me and my ability to just be a regular human being.”

The panic attack that turned into an anxiety attack occurred during a weekend series at Minnesota in the spring of 2019, Costes’ freshman season. Costes had so many different stresses going on in his life at the time and it all culminated with an attack on his mental health. He had trouble sleeping, trouble paying attention in school and trouble enjoying just doing anything. 

Costes was the 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and an All-Big Ten First Team and All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection. The Baltimore native also earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball. He led Big Ten freshmen in slugging percentage (.547), RBI (49), home runs (15), doubles (15) and total bases (117). The slugger hit five home runs in the season’s final six games, including three in the Big Ten Tournament.

After the series against Minnesota where Costes dealt with some of his mental health struggles, he expressed to his head coach Rob Vaughn and his hitting coach Matt Swope what was occurring and also that he needed help with it.

“The spring of his freshman year is when it kind of came to light,” Vaughn said. “You look at him and you’re like ‘what are you talking about, you’re hitting .350 with 14 home runs, what do you mean you struggle with some of this?’ Having that conversation and seeing what internally he actually felt and bringing that to the surface was a major step.”

There is a clear stigma within sports that keeps many athletes hesitant from speaking out about their mental health.

“He’s not afraid to express how he feels, which in sports is just not something that is the norm,” Swope stated.

Vaughn and Swope have both been an incredible help to Costes’ improvement with his mental health struggles, in addition to the University of Maryland Athletic Department’s Clinical and Sport Psychology Services, which has been directed by Dr. Michelle Garvin since 2017.

“Dr. Garvin is literally the most wonderful human being in the world,” Costes expressed.

Garvin has really helped Costes learn what mental health is and she’s helped him find ways that work in coping with some of his struggles. In their weekly meetings together, Garvin has helped Costes realize that these struggles did not begin at that Minnesota series, but these are some things he dealt with in high school at the Gilman School.

“Now that I’ve really learned about mental health and the symptoms and effects of it, I realized I was dealing with this stuff all throughout high school,” Costes said. “I had really, really bad anxiety throughout high school, I didn’t deal with stress well and I was depressed. I am glad to say that I figured all this stuff out young, so now I know what to work on so when I get into my 30s and 40s this isn’t something that has been affecting me to the point where it affects my actual physical health.”

Vaughn and Swope, along with Maryland pitching coach Corey Muscara and assistant coach Anthony Papio, have instilled meditation and visualization into the Maryland baseball program. Every single day before hitting at practice, Swope has the players meditate for three minutes to clear their minds.

Swope brings this aspect of baseball to his team everyday because it helped him cope with some of the biggest tragedies during his life. His brother passed away when he was in high school, his sister died from cancer when she was in her 30s and his mother is currently battling cancer. Meditation is something that worked for Swope in getting through hard times, so he brings it for his players to try at practice.

“We talk about meditation and visualization all the time and I think the thing about our staff is that we’ve seen it work,” Vaughn said. “Coach Swope has dealt with a lot of stuff in his life, a lot of pain and emotional stuff. Meditation and visualization are so real to him because it has allowed him to address some of this stuff. Swope has been extremely diligent in saying, ‘if the head is not right, we don’t need to just dive in and start hitting and if the head is not right, nothing else is going to work right.’”

Looking up to Swope and having a great relationship with him has allowed Costes to adopt meditation as a major part of his mental health battle and his routine before games. 

“Right before we come out for infield-outfield warm ups, I always spend 10 to 15 minutes doing mindfulness meditation,” Costes said. “It’s not because I need to stop bad thoughts, it’s not so I stop feeling anxious and stop feeling nervous. It is more so to just recognize it, like ‘hey I feel like this right now, what do I need to do to be able to function the best.’” 

On top of the meditation that Costes does, he also turned to writing poetry as an avenue to help him mentally because it helps him get his thoughts out.

“I first started writing poetry because I had so many thoughts and things running through my head that I could never calm down,” Costes stated. “Sitting down and just writing my thoughts out is what turned into poetry.”  

Writing down his thoughts and feelings helped Costes form a journal that he writes in everyday, which he says started as a joke. Swope signs off on Costes’ journal before each practice or game and they joke that he is signing Costes’ permission slip to go hit. Over time, this became more serious and helpful for Costes’ mental health.

“I think it originally started with him knowing that it’s okay to express some of this stuff and it doesn’t take away from the fact that you could still be a really good athlete and do that,” Swope said.

Swope believes that sometimes you can go too far to the other side mentally and analyze the game of baseball and your performance too much. All of that works hand-in-hand with mental health. So, since the beginning of April, Costes has been jotting down his thoughts in his journal, which helps him express his thoughts and allows Swope to be connected to Costes’ mental health. 

“It’s just as important that he’s been able to start to express himself as a person, but making sure that he still has something that’s applicable to that day,” Swope said. “So I sign off on his journal before every game. He writes down what the starting pitcher is doing or what his plan is going to be and I had to start signing off on it because sometimes it was too cerebral. For his overall maturation and development as a person, I think it’s a lot bigger than just the game for sure.”

For Costes, sitting down with Swope and developing something that he could follow is what has helped him mentally.

“I’m not stepping into the batter’s box like ‘what’s going on?,’” Costes said. “I have a path to follow and sometimes it’s wrong, but at least I have something to base my at-bats on and something to guide me through my at-bats.”

Vaughn, Swope, Muscara, Papio and the rest of the Maryland baseball program are extremely approachable and welcoming in talking about mental health. As a coaching staff, they try to be super transparent and have specific conversations about mental health on a personal level. Costes has been lucky to have coaches believe in him and see what he is going through, which helps him open up more.

Costes and Vaughn have known each other beyond Costes’ time at Maryland because his older brother Marty Costes played at Maryland from 2016 to 2018. This allowed Vaughn and Maxwell to create a relationship early on and Vaughn has raved about him ever since.

“He is an extremely intelligent young man,” Vaughn said. “The dude could have gone to play at the Ivy League schools if he wanted to. Maxwell was very outspoken and very passionate about a lot of what we’re seeing today, before it was a new thing and before Black Lives Matter had the slogan. When he was a freshman I told him, ‘you’re going to change the world and it’s going to have nothing to do with baseball.’ I hope he plays baseball as a profession, but he’s so passionate about more.”

One of Vaughn’s messages to Costes during the early parts of his freshman year has allowed him to be more comfortable with himself as a person and open up more about his mental health struggles.

“Baseball was clearly what he does, not who he is,” Vaughn said. “He didn’t necessarily know that and we helped him grow into learning that and actually being able to appreciate that, so when he does start losing himself on the baseball field he can come back to it. But, he’s always been an incredible human being. He has serious depth to him and he cares about people. You can’t say enough about Maxwell, he’s an incredible person.”