Preseason Countdown #9: Meet the newcomers — Freshmen

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Maryland baseball’s new-look 2019 squad not only features seven transfers, but a large 11-player freshman class entered the program in the offseason.

Many opportunities opened up after last year, including five starting spots in the field and a weekend starting pitching role.  Head coach Rob Vaughn will need immediate contributions from first-year Terps. Let’s meet the new guys:

RHP Sean Burke — Sutton, Mass. (St. John’s High School) 

Among the incoming freshman class, six will be taking the mound for the Terps. With a 5-0 record and 0.44 ERA in his senior season, righty Sean Burke is ranked as the No. 7 freshman in the Big Ten. A versatile arm led his team to a Division 1A State Super 8 Championship in his last year in high school.

RHP Will Glock — Fallston, Md. (Loyola Blakefield) 

Will Glock earned 41 strikeouts in 32 innings in his senior year, finishing with a 2.20 ERA. He also fanned 20 in an equal number of innings pitched with a 3.10 ERA as a junior. He led his team at Loyola Blakefield to a Conference Championship, the school’s first in 71 years.  

RHP Trevor LaBonte — York, Maine (York High School)

The Terps gain an all-around athlete from right hander Trevor Labonte. With a 10-0 record and 0.83 ERA in his senior season, Labonte was equally lethal from the plate, batting .413. He was named Western Maine Player of the Year in this season, and in 2016 was awarded an All-Conference selection. Off the diamond, Labonte averaged over 23 points and 11 rebounds a game in basketball and threw for over 1,000 yards in football. He was also an All-Conference player for his work on the hardwood.

RHP Sean Heine — Medford, N.J. (Shawnee High School)

Out of the Garden State is Sean Heine, a new big right-hander for the Terps. Ranked as the No. 57 freshman prospect in the Big Ten, Heine looks to earn some key innings on the bump this season. As a senior, he was awarded Northeast All-Region First-Team.

LHP Andrew Vail — Woodstown, N.J. (Gloucester Catholic)

The only southpaw for the Terps’ freshman class is Andrew Vail. At Gloucester Catholic Vail won two consecutive state championships. He was named first team All-South Jersey as a senior after going 7-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. He is the No. 22 freshman prospect in the conference.

RHP Daniel O’Connor — Towson, Md. (Calvert Hall)

Daniel O’Connor is another local addition to the Terps roster. The righty earned All-MIAA in 2018 and an Atlantic Region All-American Honorable Mention.

INF Benjamin Cowles — Newark, N.Y. (Newark High School)

On the other side of the ball is infielder Benjamin Cowles. The New Jersey native earned a number of awards in his high school career, including a 2018 Rawlings-Perfect Game honorable mention All-American, 2017 and 2018 Finger Lakes East player of the year, 2018 Section V Class B player of the year, and Class B first team All-State. Cowles batted .512 as a senior, with a .650 OBP and four home runs.

INF/OF Maxwell Costes — Baltimore, Md. (The Gilman School)

A familiar name in College Park is Costes. Three-year Terps player Marty Costes was a 22nd round pick to the Houston Astros in the 2018 draft. Now, his younger brother Maxwell is set to take the field in a Maryland uniform. A versatile player in both the infield and outfield, Costes had a .392 average with nine doubles and six homers his senior year. He was named to the 2018 Baltimore Sun first team All-Metro. He is the No. 27 freshman prospect in the Big Ten.

INF Josh Maguire — Newark, Del. (Salesianum)

Infielder Josh MaGuire batted over .300 in all four seasons of his high school career, with a .415 average his senior season. He was named to second team All-State in his final high school year.

INF Kody Milton — Severna Park, Md. (Severna Park)

With potentially the longest resume out of all the incoming freshman, infielder Kody Milton has surely made his name known in the baseball community. The Maryland native holds the home run (21) and hits (116) records at his high school in Severna Park. He batted .514 with eight homers his senior season, while having a .580 average his junior year.

Milton’s accolades include 2018 Rawlings-Perfect Game All-American honorable mention, 2018 Washington Post All-Metro Player of the Year, and 2018 Baltimore Sun All-Metro first team. His father, Eric, was a pitcher at Maryland from 1994-1966 before going on to have an 11-year MLB career.

C Zach Doss — Waldorf, Md. (North Point High School)

Zach Doss had an incredible .593 batting average his senior year, .493 his junior year, and .518 his sophomore year. Doss is a three-time All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference First Team. He was also named the 2018 Charles County Male Athlete of the Year and a member of the 2018 First-Team All-State. Doss is the No. 50 freshman prospect in the Big Ten.

 

Preseason Countdown #10: Meet the newcomers — Transfers

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With the Terps losing a bevy of their top contributors from last season, and others who had an impact as well, the 2019 roster includes a lot of new faces.

A large freshman class will help to fill the holes, but head coach Rob Vaughn and his staff also brought in a multitude of transfers to help the Terrapins this season. Let’s meet them all.

JR LHP Tuck Tucker — New Mexico Junior College (JuCo in NM)

Aside from his great name, Tucker is a big left-hander who stands at 6-foot-4. A Texas native, Tucker originally committed to Texas Tech out of high school but never appeared in a game for the Red Raiders. He instead pitched at two different junior colleges  — San Jacinto and New Mexico — over the past two seasons. He has worked as a a starter and a reliever, and struck out 23 batters in just under 26 innings in the Ripken League this summer.

JR RHP Zach Thompson — St. Mary’s College of Maryland (D3 in MD)

Thompson spent all of 2018 with the Terps, but had to sit out the season after transferring from the Division-III level, where he pitched one season at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His fastball moves well and he has a good chance to win a weekend rotation spot this season. Thompson had a great summer in the NECBL, posting a 3.08 ERA in just under 47 innings of work.

JR RHP Nick Turnbull — Harford CC (JuCo in MD)

Turnbull is a tall right-hander who could find himself in some high-leverage situations for the Terrapins this season. He has one of the top fastball velocities on the team this year with a pretty good breaking ball that helped him strike out 15 batters in nine relief appearances this summer in the Ripken League. He comes to Maryland from Harford Community College where he saw time as a starter and a reliever.

JR OF Caleb Walls — Pasco-Hernando State College (JuCo in FL)

Walls will compete to see time in a wide-open outfield this season, and he has a bat that could keep him in the Terps lineup. The 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter batted .385 with a .477 on-base percentage last season at Pasco-Hernando State College in Florida. That was his only season at PHSC, as he transferred there after originally committing to George Mason out of high school and playing there for one season in 2016.

JR OF/C Sebastian Holte-Mancera — Ellsworth CC (JuCo in IA)

The man they call “Sea bass” comes to College Park after he played two seasons at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. Holte-Mancera hit .385 with seven home runs and a .515 on-base percentage there last season and has the ability to play the outfield and behind the dish. He is a versatile player who has thrived at getting on base in his college career.

JR OF Ben Irvine — Northern Essex CC (JuCo in MA)

Irvine is another Junior College star who played the last two seasons at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. He hit .342 there in 2018 and was named an NJCAA Division-III Second-Team All-American. He’s another left-handed hitter who always shows good speed.

JR C Tavan Shahidi — Iowa Lakes CC (JuCo in IA)

Shahidi is another top junior college hitter who spent the last two seasons at Iowa Lakes Community College. He hit .336 with a .445 on-base percentage and 10 home runs in 51 games last season and brings the Terps another good defensive catcher who can also handle the bat.

Preseason Countdown #11: Biggest holes to fill

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The Terps have numerous holes to fill heading into the 2019 season, both offensively and defensively, after losing a handful of starters and key contributors.

Between the seven seniors and two draftees, Maryland lost its top five offensive players, top two relievers and one of its weekend starters. On the defensive side, the Terps lost three of their main outfielders, the entire right side of their infield and their most-used catcher.

Starting with the outfield, the Terps start this season without center fielder Zach Jancarski and fellow outfielders Will Watson and Marty Costes.

During his four years with the Terps, Jancarski provided numerous SportsCenter-worthy plays as the everyday center fielder, including these catches his senior year:

A defensive asset, the center fielder also showed out in the batter’s box, finishing the season tied for second-highest batting average on the team, hitting .279 with the second-most hits. 

Watson, who spent the majority of his time with the Terps in left field, finished his tenure with the Terps in strong fashion after transferring from LSU-Eunice in 2016. In a game against Rutgers last season, Watson homered twice in the third inning, including a grand slam to help Maryland put up 11 runs in the frame on its way to a 17-2 victory.

Right fielder Marty Costes struggled in the box at the start of his junior year, going 9-for-59 (.153) in his first 16 games of 2018. But based on two strong previous seasons, the outfielder was still drafted by the Houston Astros in the 22nd round last summer. 

Moving to the infield, the Terps start 2019 without their entire right side, after first baseman Kevin Biondic graduated and second baseman Nick Dunn was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

After transitioning into a two-way player, Biondic came in clutch for Maryland both on the mound and in the box, while also providing the Terps with a consistent first baseman.

The senior batted .279 in his final season with the Terps, leading the team in triples (4) while also leading the team’s bullpen in ERA (2.59). After going undrafted, Biondic signed with the Red Sox as a free agent, joining Boston’s short season Single-A affiliate as a right-handed pitcher.

Dunn led Maryland in eight offensive categories last season, including batting average (.330), home runs (10) and RBIs (39). His absence now leaves the Terps with a huge gap to fill on the right side as their most consistent player.

Starting catcher Justin Morris also graduated after the 2018 season. Like Biondic, he also inked a minor-league deal as a free agent during the summer. The four-year former Terp signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in late July.

On the mound, the Terps also lost their Friday starter and three relievers. Right-handed starter Taylor Bloom finished the season with the third-lowest ERA amongst regular starters and later signed a professional contract with the Washington Wild Things, an organization in the Independent Frontier League.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Hill also graduated last year. Hill finished the season with the second-lowest ERA among relievers (2.92) and was the only consistent Terps reliever to allow zero home runs.

Preseason Countdown #12: Best summer ball hitters

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Maryland baseball sent a handful of its hitters to summer leagues after the 2018 campaign, but catcher Justin Vought and third baseman Taylor Wright had the two standout performances in the offseason.

Vought, now a sophomore, struggled to get into a groove during his freshman season playing behind former catcher Justin Morris. He only played in 22 games, but he still managed to hit three homers before getting in 18 more games last summer with the Baltimore Redbirds of the Cal Ripken Baseball League.

The Pennsylvania native hit .347 with the Redbirds, a mark that led all Terps during the summer. He also ended the season leading his college teammates in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS.

Vought enters the 2019 campaign as the only returning catcher on the Maryland roster. Head coach Rob Vaughn added two junior transfer catchers in Sebastian Holte-Mancera and Tavan Shahidi, while freshman Zach Doss entered the program.

Like Vought, now-senior Taylor Wright started slow in his Maryland career a season ago. Wright hit .230 after transferring from Colorado Northwestern Community College, but he was fourth on the team in doubles (9), tied for fifth in RBIs (25) and second in stolen bases (11).

Wright went to the West Coast League again to play for the Kelowna Falcons, where he played in 55 games in 2018. The infielder hit just under .300 while smashing six home runs and recording 38 RBIs. Wright had only hit two homers in the spring with the Terps, making his uptick in power in the offseason a positive sign.

At the end of the summer, Wright earned first team All-WCL honors at third base, making him the best player in the league at that position. During the regular season, he ranked in the top 10 in the WCL in runs, hits and runs batted in.

In 2019, Wright is one of two returning starting infielders alongside senior shortstop AJ Lee. The Terps lost second baseman Nick Dunn to the MLB Draft, while first baseman Kevin Biondic graduated.

Preseason Countdown #13: Best summer ball pitchers

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After the 2018 Maryland baseball season ended just shy of a postseason appearance, many Terps took their talents to summer leagues around the country. Five pitchers in particular looked promising in the offseason, something that head coach Rob Vaughn will hope carries over into this spring.

Senior right-hander John Murphy had himself quite the season for the Sanford Mainers in the NECBL. He racked up five saves as the go-to closer for his squad while only allowing seven hits in 15.2 innings of work. He earned a 1-1 record with a 2.87 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP, earning himself a number of accolades.

Murphy was named the league’s pitcher of the week in the second week of the season, where he held his opponents to a .154 batting average while striking out eight batters in four innings. In the middle of the summer, Murphy was named to the NECBL All-Star team and garnered first team All-NECBL honors at the end of the summer.

Redshirt-sophomore reliever Mike Vasturia also had himself a good summer on the bump with the Sanford Mainers. The right-hander led the team with only two walks allowed and a 1.68 ERA in 13 appearances.

Sean Fisher completed the trio of Terps on the Mainers last summer, where he became an instant fan favorite. The sophomore southpaw allowed two earned runs in 18 innings of work while also adding 20 strikeouts to his resume. His performances earned himself a spot on the NECBL All-Star team alongside Murphy.

Maryland junior righty Elliot Zoellner was in relief for the Bethesda Big Train last summer in the Cal Ripken Baseball League. With a 1-0 record on the year, Zoellner let up only one earned run in 14 innings, giving him a team-low 0.64 ERA on the league’s co-champion squad. 

The most successful starter for the Terps last summer was junior Zach Thompson, who had to sit out last season due to transfer rules. In eight starts for the NECBL’s Mystic Schooners, Thompson finished with a 2-1 record while striking out a team-high 47 batters. The right-hander was honored as the NECBL Pitcher of the Week in the eighth week of the summer, where he fanned 11 batters in just six innings of work.

Preseason Countdown #15: Best stories of 2018

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We’re just 15 days away from Maryland baseball. As we wind down our preseason coverage looking back on the 2018 campaign, we compiled the best stories written about the team in the past year.


From the Maryland Baseball Network…

After an offseason of moving pieces, Maryland baseball will rely on experience, familiarity this spring

Maryland’s weekend pitching exceeding expectations in early-season slate

Controlling their destiny: senior bats are leading Maryland’s postseason push

From The Diamondback…

A bedazzled red robe “brings an extra fire” to Maryland baseball

A new rally squirrel sparked Maryland baseball’s offense in its win vs. James Madison

Zach Jancarski’s highlight-reel catch encapsulated his progress for Maryland baseball

From the Washington Post…

A hug on the mound put cancer survivor Billy Phillips at ease before his Maryland debut

From The Left Bench…

Bionic Biondic: the Terps’ tough senior

From Testudo Times…

Maryland baseball alums have relished their time in MLB organizations