Marty Costes drafted by Houston Astros in 22nd round

The Houston Astros selected outfielder Marty Costes in the 22nd round (672nd overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft Wednesday afternoonmaking him the first Maryland player chosen in consecutive drafts since 2013-14. He was selected by the Astros in the 25th round last year.

As a draft-eligible sophomore, Costes was the 751st overall pick in 2017, but returned to Maryland for his junior campaign. He is the second current Terp off the board this year, after Nick Dunn was taken in the fifth round on Tuesday.

Costes is now just the sixth Terp since 2000 to be selected in back-to-back drafts. Most recently, former right-hander Jake Stinnett was drafted in the 29th round (869th overall) in 2013 and then again in the second round (45th overall) in 2014. His teammate, outfielder Charlie White, jumped from the 29th round to the 21st round in the same two-year stretch.

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Costes was an infielder out of Arcbishop Curley (MD) when he arrived at Maryland in 2016, but there were no immediate vacancies for him to start at third base. With the team needing his bat in the lineup, he was asked to transition to left field. In doing so, he ended the season tied with among Maryland’s outfield core with the fewest errors (2) and the most assists (4).

The urgency to get Costes’ bat into the lineup as a freshman paid off, as he lead the team with nine home runs, 21 extra-base hits and a .479 slugging percentage. His nine homers also led all Big Ten freshmen, helping earn a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American nomination.

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Marty Costes bats for Maryland against Army on 2/25/18. Photo by Amanda Broderick/Maryland Baseball Network

Coming off a first season filled with accolades, Costes continued to emerge during his sophomore campaign. He raised his batting average from .263 to .322, which ranked third on the team. One of two players to start in all 61 games, he led the team in hits (77), home runs (13), RBIs (46) and walks (34). His .322/.429/.548 slash line highlighted his selection as a 2017 All-Big Ten first team recipient and an MLB draft pick.

After playing with Dunn for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, Costes struggled a bit in his return to College Park as a junior. He had career-lows in batting average, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. However, he swiped double-digit bases for the first time and walked just as often as he struck out. Costes also continued to develop as an outfielder, showing off his strong arm with nine assists.

Despite the drop in numbers, Costes was much more productive during the final month of the season and his potential still warranted a second MLB Draft selection in as many seasons. His 96 career walks are the seventh-most in program history and his 28 homers are tied for eighth.

Nick Dunn drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in 5th round

The St. Louis Cardinals selected infielder Nick Dunn in the 5th round (153rd overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft Tuesday afternoon, making the junior second baseman the first current Terp taken in this year’s draft. Maryland has now had a top-five round pick in each of the last five years.

In just three seasons at Maryland, the Sunbury, Pennsylvania, native started in all 172 games and became the 13th player in program history to reach 200 career hits. Just recently, Dunn was named a Baseball America second team All-American and a first team All-Big Ten recipient.

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Dunn came to College Park in 2016 with an optimistic future for obvious reasons. A Louisville Slugger preseason All-American honorable mention, he finished his senior year of high school with a .477 batting average without a single strikeout. Dunn immediately fit right into the program, hitting .300 during his freshman season. He led the team in hits (68), doubles (16) and on-base percentage (.382). He was later named a freshman All-American.

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Sophomore Nick Dunn throws to first for the out. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/14/2017

Dunn began to increase his power as a sophomore, jumping his home run total from just one to five the following year. While his batting average decreased, he continued to get on base and put the ball in play. He walked more than he struck out, helping lead Maryland to Big Ten and NCAA Tournament berths in 2017. Dunn was impressive last summer, earning playoff co-MVP honors with the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He returned to Maryland with a .333 season average, an All-Star selection and a championship in one of the most prestigious collegiate summer leagues in the country.

Success against the nation’s top talent followed Dunn back to College Park, leading the Terps in nearly every statistical offensive category this past season as a junior. He attained career-bests in hits (70), doubles (17), home runs (10) and RBIs (39) with a .330/.419/.561 slash line. He was the most consistent player for Maryland the entire season as the team’s primary two-hitter.

Dunn has become the toughest out in Maryland’s lineup, walking 85 times with just 67 strikeouts in three years. He developed power while increasing his batting average this past season, hitting more than half of his career homers in 2018. Currently holding a .295 career batting average, Dunn is one of 16 Maryland All-Americans and has the ninth-most doubles (46) in program history.

MLB Draft Preview: 2018

The Maryland baseball season is over, but the 2018 MLB Draft is just around the corner. Six Terps were selected in last year’s draft, including Kevin Smith and Brian Shaffer who were both taken in the first six rounds.

The draft will take place from Monday, June 4 through Wednesday, June 6. This year, Maryland has 14  players currently on the roster who are eligible for selection. Here, we’ll give a quick synopsis of each player.


Nick Dunn – 2B

Ht: 5’10″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 212    Slash Line: .330/.419/.561     HR10       RBI39     K: 19      BB: 32

Dunn proved why he’s among the most highly-touted second basemen in the country this season, increasing his power without showing any dip in his average. His 19 strikeouts were the fewest of Maryland’s starters and his 10 home runs were the most on the team. From start to finish, Dunn was the most consistent hitter in the Terps’ batting order. He also earned first team All-Big Ten honors.

In his three years at Maryland, Dunn hasn’t missed a single game and has started in all 172 contests. He’s never finished a season with more strikeouts than walks and, after hitting six home runs in his first two seasons, mashed 10 in his junior season. He became the 13th player in program history to reach 200 career hits this season, and he did so in only three years.

After earning playoff co-MVP honors in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer, Dunn let his success follow him back to College Park. Dunn is ranked the 174th-best prospect heading into the draft by MLB Pipeline. His offensive ability makes him the clear first Maryland selection in the draft next week.


Marty Costes – OF

Ht: 5’9″        Wt: 200        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 50     AB: 179    Slash Line: .235/.382/.374     HR: 6       RBI31     K: 34      BB: 34

It took Costes a while to get into a grove during his junior season, taking a step back from his breakout sophomore campaign a year ago. He still managed to finish second on the team in RBIs and, like Dunn, didn’t strike out more than he walked. On the base paths, Costes was 10-for-12 on steal attempts. He also led the Maryland outfield with nine assists, boasting one of the strongest arms in the conference.

Costes emerged quickly as a talented freshman two seasons ago, hitting nine home runs en route to an All-Big Ten freshman team selection. He hit .322 with 13 home runs last season, helping him toward a 25th-round section by the Houston Astros as a draft eligible sophomore. He was also on the conference’s first team.

While Costes’ numbers are lower than what they were last year, there’s no reason to believe a major league team won’t draft him for the second year in a row. Costes began to heat up down the stretch, hitting the ball well for the last month of the season. His fielding has improved since his freshman season, and while he had an up-and-down junior year at the plate, his previous success indicates his potential in a professional system.


Hunter Parsons – RHP

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 200        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 15 (13 GS)  IP: 89.0    ERA: 3.44     K/9: 6.3       BB/9: 2.7     H/9: 7.4

The emergence of Hunter Parsons was arguably the biggest success story of the Maryland baseball season. After one rough start to begin the season, Parsons fixed issues to become the most consistent weekend arm for the rest of the year. Parsons improved significantly under first-year pitching coach Corey Muscara, becoming the Friday night starter by the end of the season. He led the staff in innings pitched, holding opponents to a .225 average.

Parsons showed promise with a 3.50 ERA in 15 appearances as a freshman, but that potential went unharvested in his second season. The right-hander only pitched 21.2 innings as a sophomore while he struggled, but turned it all around this year. He pitched two complete games, including a two-hit shutout against Stetson, who will host a regional in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Parsons’ confidence increased with Muscara as his pitching coach. After he felt he was “lolly-gagging” during his first start of the season, Parsons sped up his pace. Wasting little time, he began receiving the ball from his catcher and quickly getting set to fire the next pitch. That mentality, and by changing his grip on his two-seam fastball, led to impressive performances nearly every weekend of the season. As the season progressed, the junior likely garnered more attention and was put onto teams’ radars.



AJ Lee – SS

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 203    Slash Line: .232/.375/.296     HR: 1       RBI18    K:  51     BB: 36

After spending his first two seasons in College Park at third base, Lee transitioned into the team’s shortstop to replace Kevin Smith. With big shoes to fill, Lee had some cold stretches both at the plate and in the field this season. He was still one of three players to play and start in all 54 games for the Terps in 2018. While his average decreased from a season ago, he walked a team-high 36 times and was hit by 11 pitches to maintain a high on-base percentage.

Lee played in 19 games as a freshman with nine starts, but struggled at the plate with a sub-.200 average. As a sophomore, though, Lee really emerged as the everyday starting third baseman. He had an incredibly hot end of last season, increasing his batting average to over .300. He finished with eight home runs as a sophomore, trailing just Smith and Costes for the team lead.

Like Costes, his sophomore season was much better than the one he just concluded. His offensive production decreased, while his transition to shortstop wasn’t always smooth. However, Lee’s sophomore campaign showed he’s capable of providing a hot bat, clean defense and speed on the base paths. This could be the second consecutive year a Maryland shortstop is drafted, as Smith was selected in the fourth round in 2017.


John Murphy – RHP

Ht: 6’4″        Wt: 245       Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 23 (0 GS)  IP: 25.1    ERA: 4.26     K/9: 13.1       BB/9: 7.5     H/9: 6.4

Murphy served as the team’s closer, finishing this season with a team-high four saves. He led the team in appearances and pitched the second-most innings out of the bullpen. He began the year strong, working with Kevin Biondic to form a strong tandem in the back-end of games. He struggled with confidence and location down the stretch, letting an influx of walks hurt him at times. He still held hitters to a .196 average and earned plenty of swings and misses.

Like many freshman, Murphy began his career with growing pains. He pitched just 11 innings and had an ERA just below 10.00 as a freshman. But his sophomore year highlighted his potential, finishing with a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings. He held hitters to a .183 average and walked just eight batters the entire season. He shined in the season’s biggest games in 2017, escaping multiple bases-loaded jams in Maryland’s postseason run.

Murphy’s lack of control toward the end of the 2018 season was concerning, but the junior has shown in three seasons he can be dominant when he’s in control. In each of the last two years, he’s held hitters below a .200 batting average. He turned into quite the strikeout pitcher, setting down 37 batters on strikes in just over 25 innings. He had a sub-3.00 ERA for most of the season, so if he can hone in on commanding his pitches and limiting walks, Murphy could certainly replicate his sophomore numbers in the future.


Taylor Wright – 3B

Ht: 6’3″        Wt: 180        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 47     AB: 165    Slash Line: .230/.319/.333     HR: 2       RBI: 25     K: 34      BB: 19

In his first season with Maryland, Wright played in 47 games as the primary third baseman. A Canada native, Wright transferred from Colorado Northwestern Community College to help fill a void in Maryland’s infield. He accounted for Maryland’s only walk-off win of the season, drawing a game-winning walk in the 10th inning against Northwestern.

Never shying away from laying down a bunt, Wright also showed a little power down the stretch with two home runs. His bat got hot in the last several weekends, accumulating a good portion of his RBIs in the final month of the season. He was also one of four Terps with double-digit stolen bases.

If Wright isn’t taken, he could be a huge piece of a Maryland infield next year that might wind up losing three-fourths of its starters. If Wright can improve his average — something he showed in the last couple weeks of the year — then he could be a leader in both the field and in the middle of the batting order in 2019.


Brad Barnett – INF

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 175        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 5     AB: 7    Slash Line: .143/.455/.143     HR: 0       RBI1     K: 2      BB: 4

Barnett didn’t see game action at TCU as a freshman, but he hit .203 in 26 games at Grayson College last year. After transferring to Maryland, the infielder played in just six games this season. He did earn two starts as head coach Rob Vaughn tried a carousel of designated hitters throughout the year. In a start against James Madison, Barnett helped spark an extra-innings win by going 1-for-2 at the plate with a pair of walks.

Because Biondic is graduating, and Dunn and Lee might leave pending the draft results, there could be competition open to fills their spots. The infield positions were locked up for the entirety of this season, so Barnett could fight for more playing time in the offseason between returning players and the incoming freshman class.


Taylor Bloom – RHP

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 195        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 12 (11 GS)  IP: 79.1    ERA: 4.99     K/9: 5.7       BB/9: 3.1     H/9: 9.4

Bloom began the season replacing Brian Shaffer’s vacated Friday night role, filling it effectively for the first half of the season. But after a freaky concussion late in the season, Bloom finished the year swapping between Saturday and Sunday starts. He pitched at least seven innings in a majority of his outings, helping rest the bullpen for the remainder of the weekends.

Bloom made an immediate impact upon his arrival to College Park. He appeared in 15 games as a freshman, including a 6.1-inning start against UCLA in the NCAA Regionals. Since then, Bloom has been a consistent weekend starter for the last three seasons. In 102.1 innings as a sophomore, his 2.46 ERA was fourth-best in the conference and he issued just nine walks the entire year.

In his last start, Bloom became just the second Maryland pitcher to eclipse 300 career innings. It was a fitting ending to a career filled with lengthy and gutsy starts from the right-hander. His fastball pitch won’t touch the 90s, but his success stems from changing hitters’ eye levels and using a slow off-speed pitch that produces ugly swings. Bloom was not taken in last year’s draft, but could receive late-round consideration from teams this year.


Zach Jancarski – CF

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 185        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 54     AB: 201   Slash Line: .279/.378/.453     HR: 7       RBI: 29     K: 48      BB: 24

Recently nicknamed “Mr. SportsCenter,” Jancarski appeared on the television show’s Top 10 plays three different times this season for his jaw-dropping catches in centerfield. While known for his speed and defense, Jancarski finished with another respectable season at the plate. His average dropped from his junior season, but he outmatched his home run total from his first three seasons in his senior campaign alone.

Jancarski played and started every game in the last two seasons for the Terps. He appeared in 28 games as a freshman before playing in at least 46 for each of the last three years. His junior campaign was his most successful season, though, boasting a .325 average at the plate and a team-leading 17 doubles and 20 stolen bases. His most memorable offensive moment was a game-tying solo homer against Penn State at home, one pitch before former Terp Brandon Gum walked off with a shot of his own.

Jancarski wasn’t drafted last year following his best collegiate season, but his fielding has continued to steadily improve. He’s admitted to running poor routes on fly balls early in his career, but has turned that around to become a outfielder with an incredible amount of range. He also committed just two errors in his four-year career. He’s obviously quick on the bases and in the field, but he showed late into this year that he had some power left in him, too.


Justin Morris – C

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 215        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 43     AB: 130    Slash Line: .208/.329/.292     HR: 1       RBI: 14    K: 38      BB: 20

For the past few seasons now, Morris has been thrown into a battle for the starting catching role and each time the Maryland native has come out on top by the end of the year. He split some time with freshman Justin Vought in 2018, but Morris finished his four-year career as the primary catcher. He threw out a team-high nine base runners as a reliable player behind the dish.

Morris started in 129 games in his career, working closely with right-hander Taylor Bloom over the course of their careers. While he never hit for a high average, Morris always seemed to end the season trending upward. As a junior, Morris got hot just in time for the postseason, finishing the year with a career-high five homers. He hit just above .200 this season, but helped lead a spark down the stretch to finish his career strong.

He wasn’t drafted last season as a junior, but was selected in the 35th round out of high school by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Morris showed flashes strong offensive production once May came around, but was never able to stretch success out for an entire season. His defense has been trustworthy, and he’s helped Vought get ready to potentially take over the role for the remainder of his time at Maryland.


Kevin Biondic – 1B/RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 215        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: L/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 53     AB: 201    Slash Line: .279/.369/.463     HR: 6       RBI: 27    K: 55      BB: 24

G: 18 (0 GS)  IP: 24.1    ERA: 2.59     K/9: 10.0       BB/9: 3.0     H/9: 6.3

Biondic’s senior season highlighted a career of perserverense. After losing his starting role as a junior, Biondic reclaimed his position at first base this year. Not only did he play in 53 games — missing just one due to his Chicago Police Academy entrance exam — he transitioned into a two-way player. After picking up pitching in the offseason, Biondic turned into one of the more reliable arms out of the bullpen. He hit a career-high six homers and struck out more than one batter per inning on the mound.

The Illinois native played in 99 games in his first two seasons, receiving every start in Maryland’s NCAA Super Regional run in 2014. When Brandon Gum arrived as a graduate transfer in 2017, Biondic started just 16 times as a junior. His offensive numbers this season were pretty similar to his sophomore year stats, but his lockdown defense and versatility on the mound made him much more valuable.

Biondic earned All-Big Ten second team honors as a utility player this season, turning into a successful hitter and pitcher. He went from toying around with a knuckleball to using it to strike out the final batter of his career. Just a season ago, former Terrapin Jamal Wade — another first-year pitcher — was drafted by the Seattle Mariners. He made just seven errors in four years and produced at the plate in big times this season. He’s had a goal of joining the police force, so no matter how the draft plays out, Biondic will continue pursuing something he enjoys doing.


Will Watson – OF

Ht: 6’2″        Wt: 190        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 41     AB: 130    Slash Line: .254/.369/.431     HR: 6       RBI: 25    K: 37      BB: 17

Other than Dunn, Will Watson was the hottest Maryland hitter by the end of this season. If it weren’t for him, Maryland wouldn’t have been in position to have a chance at qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament heading into the final series of the year. He received starts in left field and at designated hitter. Against Rutgers, he tied NCAA records with two home runs and seven RBIs in one inning.

Watson is now the second player in recent history to finish their careers in College Park after transferring from LSU-Eunice. Madison Nickens graduated last year, and now Watson has done the same after playing in 98 games in two seasons. He finished his Maryland career with nine homers and 55 RBIs, sparking Maryland’s late push that fell just short of a postseason berth this season.

Maybe not the flashiest outfielder, Watson still provided solid defense when he played in left field during his time at Maryland. His progress showed most when he made a diving catch to save a game against Northwestern this season. His batting average never climbed too high, but he got on base often. When he reached base, he was 22-for-24 on stolen base attempts in two seasons.



Ryan Hill – RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 235        Year: Sr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 9 (0 GS)  IP: 12.1    ERA: 2.92     K/9: 10.2       BB/9: 5.8     H/9: 9.5

Hill missed the majority of his senior season struggling with eligibility issues, but once he returned, he performed well despite the lack of preparation for game action. He had a sub-3.00 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen, striking out more than a batter per inning. He did struggle with command at times, racking up walks, but that likely stemmed from not getting much time to get into a groove during the season.

The Texas native spent two years at Grayson Community College before transferring to Maryland for his junior year. He immediately made an impact, notching the most appearances (29) of any Terps pitcher last season. His 46.1 innings were also the most of any bullpen arm. He was a stud for Grayson in two seasons, and had it not been for missing most of year, Hill could’ve replicated prior success during his senior year in College Park.

Hill showed signs over his two years at Maryland of being a really effective arm out of the bullpen, but his lack of workload at the Division I level might make it tough for him to be taken in the draft. He tossed just 12.1 innings his senior year and while he pitched a ton as a junior, his 5.01 ERA wasn’t that strong. He also handed out a few too many free passes; he walked or hit 30 batters in 46 innings in 2017 and eight in just 12 innings in 2018.


Alec Touhy – RHP

Ht: 6’1″        Wt: 195        Year: RSr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

2018 Stats: 

G: 11 (1 GS)  IP: 12.1    ERA: 11.68     K/9: 7.3       BB/9: 6.6     H/9: 15.3

After the University of Buffalo’s baseball program disbanded after the 2017 season, Tuohy transferred to Maryland for his final year of eligibility. Once a really successful collegiate weekend starter, Tuohy never got his footing in College Park. He began this season injured and once he was healthy enough to throw, the results didn’t come back positively.

He made 11 appearances and even notched a midweek start in the middle of the season, but conceded too many runs to earn more outings. He struck out a fair amount of hitters for the amount of work he received, but teams hit .375 against him and walked 6.6 times per nine innings to rough up the redshirt senior.


Nick Decker, Jack Herman – Class of 2018 Commits 

Maryland’s incoming freshman class is ranked No. 23 in the country, according to Perfect Game. Among the 15 commits, Decker and Herman are the two most likely to be selected out of high school in the draft.

Decker, an outfielder from Southhampton, New Jersey, is the 74th-best draft prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is predicted to be drafted so high that’ll it be tough to see him in a Maryland uniform next year. Herman, an outfielder from Berlin, New Jersey, could also be selected at some point, but potentially not high enough to justify not joining the Terps in College Park.


 

Pro Terps Update: 5/23/18

The Maryland baseball team’s season may be over, but its mark on the sport won’t go away anytime soon. Professional baseball is a quarter of the way through, as both the MLB and MiLB start to hit their respective strides. Let’s take a look at how the former Terps are playing thus far.

LHP Brett Cecil, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

Cecil is still the only mainstay in the big leagues among former Maryland stars. His career as a relief pitcher has been a very solid one to this point, and the 31-year-old has a lot of baseball still in the tank as he continues adding to his resume. Originally a starter, Cecil shifted to the bullpen in 2012 and his career has been better for it.

Due to a lingering shoulder injury this season, Cecil hasn’t gotten a lot of run out of the pen yet thus far. In just 3.1 innings pitched, he has a 2.70 ERA with an impressive 62.5 percent ground ball rate.

LHP Adam Kolarek, Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays, AAA)

Kolarek made his MLB debut last season, but it wasn’t as successful as many would’ve hoped. In 8.1 innings pitched, he had a 6.48 ERA and struck out just over four batters per nine. Despite that, he got an invite to major league spring training only to be assigned to Durham once again.

But just as he did in 2017, Kolarek is dominating at the Triple-A level. In 24.1 innings across 14 games, he’s pitched to a miniscule 1.11 ERA with a 10.36 K/9. The Rays are struggling mightily so far this season, so a recalling of Kolarek is not only possible, but probable.

OF Lamonte Wade, Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins, AA)

After impressing many in his first three seasons of professional baseball, Wade is listed as the No. 13 prospect in the Twins organization. One of his best qualities thus far has been his plate discipline, which has been on full display to start this season.

Wade’s 2018 campaign has been a special one thus far, lighting the Southern League on fire for the Lookouts. In 155 plate appearances, Wade has six home runs and 19 RBI to go along with a .305 batting average and a .406 OBP. If he keeps up this level of play, Wade could be in store for a promotion.

2B Brandon Lowe, Montgomery Biscuits (Tampa Bay Rays, AA)

Like Kolarek, Lowe has found a home in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. After being promoted to Double-A in the middle of last season, Lowe struggled to get the bat going against a higher level of competition. But fortunately for him and the organization, Lowe is on a hot streak at the plate.

The Rays No. 14 prospect has had a terrific start to the 2018 campaign, cutting down the strikeouts and increasing his walk rate substantially. With a .288 batting average and a .514 slugging percentage, Lowe is not only getting base hits, but he often goes for extra bases. He has six home runs and 31 RBI so far, and if he continues to impress, a trip to Durham might be coming.

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

Stinnett dominated last season across three different levels, posting a 1.19 ERA in 22.2 innings from rookie ball to Double-A. His time with the Smokies was particularly eye-opening, pitching to a 0.61 ERA in 14.2 innings. But 2018 hasn’t been as kind to Stinnett thus far, and the righty has struggled to find a consistent level of play in the early goings. He’s pitched just 12.1 innings thus far, but his 5.11 ERA and 7.30 BB/9 isn’t what the 26-year-old was hoping for.

RHP Mike Shawaryn, Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox, AA)

Despite having never pitched in Double-A before this season, Shawaryn has made the most of his opportunity so far in 2018. In eight starts (45.1 IP), the No. 9 prospect in the Red Sox organization has a 3.77 ERA, but a deeper look at the numbers shows that he’s pitching better than that mark would indicate. With a 3.21 FIP and a 0.60 HR/9, Shawaryn has done a good job at limiting hard contact and making quick work of opposing hitters.

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

Due to injury, Robinson has barely played in 2018 thus far. He’s pitched three innings, allowing zero runs while striking out five in early April. But Robinson was activated from the disabled list on Monday, so he could be pitching again very soon. In 17.1 innings for Fort Myers in 2017, Robinson had a 4.67 ERA with a 14.02 K/9.

RHP Brian Shaffer, Kane County Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks, A)

After pitching in rookie ball and Low-A in 2017, Shaffer has found a home and a lot of success with the Kane County Cougars. In 42.2 innings across eight starts, Shaffer has allowed just 12 earned runs (2.53 ERA) and has struck out 48 batters (10.13 strikeouts per nine innings). Still just 21-years-old, Shaffer could find himself moving up the ranks if he keeps up this level of production.

SS Kevin Smith, Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays, A)

What a start to 2018 it’s been for Smith. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft, he struggled to find consistent success at the plate But 2018 has been a different story altogether as Smith has found his stroke in Lansing. In 178 plate appearances thus far, he has a slash line of .362/.421/.652, making him a dangerous threat in the heart of the order for the Lugnuts. He has seven home runs, 41 RBI, 31 runs and 10 stolen bases, making a promotion extremely likely in the coming months.

RHP Ryan Selmer, New York Mets organization

Drafted in the 31st round last June, Selmer impressed at the rookie level for the Kingsport Mets. In his 21 professional innings thus far, he was able to post a 2.14 ERA, albeit with a lofty 1.52 WHIP. He walked 11 batters and hit three more, but thanks to a 57.6 ground ball rate he stranded over 80 percent of baserunners. The Mets have yet to release where the right-hander will be this season, but all signs point to him joining the Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones.

RHP Jamal Wade, Seattle Mariners organization

Wade came out firing in his first pro season, posting a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings in the Arizona League. With a 12.36 K/9 rate and a 3.20 BB/9, he showcased his skill for the Mariners front office to see. Like Selmer, Wade did a fantastic job of stranding baserunners, as evidenced by his 79.0 left on base percentage. This summer, the right-hander is likely headed to the Everett AquaSox, the Mariners’ Short-Season A affiliate.

RHP Jose Cuas and LHP Jake Drossner, Milwaukee Brewers organization

After struggling at the plate in his three years of pro ball, Cuas’s career is taking a sharp turn. The former corner infielder hit just .187 across two levels of A-Ball last year, and in the offseason it was announced that Cuas is transitioning to the mound. His destination is yet to be released. Drossner is also in the Brewers’ system but will be sidelined this year due to injury.

Three Terrapins earn Big Ten yearly awards

The Big Ten announced its end-of-season baseball individual award winners Tuesday afternoon, which featured three Maryland players: second baseman Nick Dunn, first baseman Kevin Biondic and pitcher Billy Phillips.

Dunn, who hit .330 this season, was featured on the All-Big Ten first team. The junior hit 10 home runs for the first time in his career after only hitting six in his first two seasons in College Park. He ranked fourth in the conference in total bases and third in doubles this season.

Dunn has played and started in all 172 games at Maryland, and now is projected to be selected within the first 10 rounds in the upcoming MLB Draft. He has 85 walks to just 67 strikeouts through three seasons, showcasing his ability to put the ball in play. He was consistently the best player on the field for Maryland in 2018.

Biondic earned All-Big Ten second team honors as a utility player, being noticed for his hitting, pitching and fielding. The senior came to College Park as a third baseman, but eventually transitioned into one of the best first baseman in the conference. Prior to the 2018 season, he even added pitching to his repertoire.

At the plate, Biondic hit .279 with six home runs and 27 RBIs. His four triples led the team, with no other player recording more than one. In his first year on the mound, Biondic finished with a 2.59 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.1 innings as one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. For most of the year, the right-hander had an ERA below 1.00. In the field, Biondic recorded just one error toward a .998 fielding percentage.

One player on every team was also recognized for demonstrating sportsmanship, and left-handed pitcher Billy Phillips was the no-brainer decision as the Terps’ representative. After winning his battle with leukemia, Phillips has continued to overcome challenges in the face of adversity.

Pitching for the first time since high school, the southpaw pitched 20 innings and even started three games just months after being cleared to play. He earned his first-career win against James Madison, pitching four scoreless innings to help Maryland snap a six-game losing streak.

How Maryland can still clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament

Maryland baseball can still qualify for the Big Ten tournament despite back-to-back losses against Indiana to start the final series of the regular season, but it’ll take some help from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Terps must win their game tomorrow against Indiana and have Ohio State beat Michigan State on Saturday. If either of the two things doesn’t happen, Maryland will not be playing in the postseason for the first time since 2013.

Seven of the eight spots have been punched to the Big Ten tournament, awaiting  Maryland or Michigan State to officially claim the No. 8 seed. Whichever team makes it will face Minnesota, who clinched the Big Ten regular season title on Friday.

Here are the current conference standings heading into the final day of the regular season:

  1. Minnesota (18-4)
  2. Michigan (15-6)
  3. Purdue (15-6) 
  4. Illinois (15-8)
  5. Ohio State (14-9)
  6. Indiana (12-9)
  7. Iowa (12-9)
  8. Michigan State (10-12)
  9. Maryland (9-12)
  10. Nebraska (7-14)
  11. Rutgers (7-16)
  12. Northwestern (6-18)
  13. Penn State (3-20)


BOLD
 = clinched postseason berth
Strikethrough  = eliminated from contention

The Terps began the series with the opportunity to control their own destiny, but after losing the first two games of the series, handed that advantage over to Michigan State. Maryland’s loss Friday afternoon gave Michigan State the ability to pass the Terps in the standings later in the evening at home against Ohio State. They took advantage, beating the Buckeyes, 6-2.

The result put Michigan State one game ahead of Maryland in the standings with one game left in the regular season. It also eliminated Nebraska from contention. Because the Terps won two of three games against the Spartans earlier this season, Maryland owns the tiebreaker if both teams finish 10-12.

Here’s the schedule for Saturday’s influential games:

1:05 p.m. ET — Ohio State at Michigan State

5:00 p.m. ET — Maryland at Indiana

Maryland’s game was originally scheduled for 2:05 p.m., which would’ve overlapped with the one in East Lansing. Now, Maryland will know for sure whether or not its regular season finale against Indiana will matter. Maryland has participated in the Big Ten tournament in each of its first three years as a part of the conference, but is in jeopardy of continuing the streak.

Freshman right-hander Mark DiLuia (3-4, 5.17 ERA) will be Maryland’s starting pitcher against junior left-hander Tim Herrin (4-0, 3.00 ERA).

This story has been updated to reflect Maryland’s game vs. Indiana starting at 5 p.m. instead of the originally-scheduled 2:05 p.m. 

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

Maryland baseball’s chances of making the Big Ten Tournament looked slim less than a month ago after it was swept at home by Purdue. The weekend dropped the Terps’ conference record to 3-8 with three of the last four series slated for the road.

The team then won two of three in East Lansing against Michigan State — a series that might determine the final seed in the tournament — before losing two of three against Nebraska. Maryland’s record still sat at 6-11 and outside the tournament.

The probability of the postseason still looked minimal heading into last weekend against Rutgers, likely needing a sweep — something the Terps hadn’t accomplished all season — to keep their hopes alive. But then, with potentially six games left in their Maryland careers, the seniors led a charge that now has Maryland in a position to control its own destiny heading into the regular season finale on the road against Indiana.

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Big Ten baseball standings (as of 5/16/18)

Maryland’s four starting seniors — Kevin Biondic, Will Watson, Zach Jancarski and Justin Morris — finished their final series at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium a combined 19-for-43 (.442) with 14 runs scored and 17 RBIs to lead the Terps to their first sweep of the season. The results moved Maryland from 11th place in the Big Ten to eighth, which would earn them a trip the tournament.

“We’re playing with that chip on our shoulder right now,” Morris said on Sunday. “I mean, our careers can be over after any day now so we’re all just trying to take advantage of these last few games and just leave it all out there on the line.”

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Senior catcher Justin Morris waiting for a call. Photo by Amanda Broderick/Maryland Baseball Network

The Maryland native started all three games at first base against Rutgers, relinquishing his primary role behind the plate to provide assistance as Biondic nursed a bruised foot. In addition to his 4-for-10 weekend at the plate, Morris’ defense was strong despite playing the position on just one other occasion this season.

“He did an unbelievable job out there, just unbelievable. What that is, is just big-time unselfishness from that young man. Big time,” head coach Rob Vaughn said. “He’s been our catcher here for the last couple of years but our team needed him to play first base and that dude stepped up and did his thing both offensively and at first base [last] weekend.”

While Morris’ defensive boost was a pleasant surprise, Jancarski’s performance in center field was nothing out of the ordinary. His full-extension grab in the ninth inning Friday night potentially saved the game with the tying-runner at the plate. A day later, with his team much more comfortably up 15 runs, he dove backward and crashed into the wall to corral a fly ball.

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Senior center fielder Zach Jancarski scores for the Terrapins last season against Northwest. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Jancarski — who also went 5-for-10 at the plate in the series —  has played in 183 games in his Maryland career, including starts in every game of the last two seasons. Putting his body on the line while up 15 runs in the last inning of his last weekend series in College Park shows what kind of seniors Vaughn has playing for him.

Biondic, despite not pitching, didn’t let his minor injury keep him from the batting order for the finale home series of his career. He assumed the designated hitter role for all three games, going 3-for-10 with two RBIs. The typical first baseman’s time in College Park began with playing 42 games in the Terps’ run to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2015, including all 10 starts in Maryland’s postseason games during his freshman year.

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Senior first baseman Kevin Biondic mid-swing. Photo by Amanda Broderick/Maryland Baseball Network

He started just 16 times two years later as a junior when Brandon Gum replaced him as a redshirt senior. Biondic’s adaptability has exemplified senior leadership, working hard to earn 50 more games this season with 23.1 innings on the mound as a first-year pitcher.

However, Maryland’s offensive surge began with the senior that has spent the least amount of time in College Park. Will Watson, who transferred from LSU-Eunice after his sophomore year, went 7-for-13 with 10 RBIs against Rutgers in three games. He hit two home runs with seven RBIs in the third inning alone on Saturday, helping earn national recognition and the Big Ten Player of the Week.

“Not one of us wants to be done playing so we want to extend the season as long as we can and we know what’s at stake,” Watson said Saturday. “We know that every inning, every pitch is important so we just kind of try to relay that message to the whole team.”

Despite a below-.500 season the Terps didn’t anticipate, they have a chance to extend their season in Bloomington. It’s simple: win all three games and they’re in the tournament. Anything other than that will require some help from around the conference.

The Terps are playing inspired baseball right now, going 6-3 in their last three conference series. That success, orchestrated largely by their seniors and starting pitching, has earned all one can ask for going into the final three games of the regular season: the right to control one’s own destiny.

“We could’ve made out lives much easier if we were getting after it, doing some of this earlier in the year,” Vaughn said. “But at the end of the day, if we can find a way to get to the tournament, who knows? I think when people are playing fearless and people are playing like there’s no tomorrow, then they become really, really dangerous.”