Preseason Countdown No. 11: Meet the newcomers — Freshmen

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As a whole, Maryland’s class of recruits this year ranked the highest in team history in December, when D1Baseball.com ranked the Terps No. 7.

While Maryland may only welcome two new transfers to its squad in 2020, there are a whopping 13 freshmen joining the team.

Here’s a breakdown of the first years:


RHP Sam Bello — West Nyack, NY (Iona Prep High School)

Bello is one of six new arms joining the Terps’ squad this season. Out of high school Bello was the fourth-ranked right-handed pitcher in New York and was named CHSAA Player of the Year. Bello posted a 0.82 ERA over his junior and senior seasons, with a combined 106 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.

Bello tossed three innings during the Fall World Series with three strikeouts, allowing only one hit and two walks. Against Army, Bello went two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

RHP Chris Chaney — Falling Waters, WV (Saint James School)

Chaney was the No. 1 ranked right-hander out of West Virginia. As a senior at the Saint James School he recorded a 6-2 record with 48 strikeouts and helped lead the Saints to their first Mid-Atlantic Conference title in school history.

Chaney went one inning during the Fall World Series with one strikeout, while allowing seven walks and four runs.

RHP Connor Staine — Clinton, NJ (West Morris Central High School)

Staine finished high school with a combined 19-6 record and 1.70 ERA. He was named First Team All-NJACC, All-State, and was the 2018-19 MVP. As a senior, Staine recorded 72 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched.

RHP David Falco — Center Moriches, NY (Center Moriches High School)

As the No. 3 ranked right-hander in New York, Falco helped lead Center Moriches to back-to-back state championships and an undefeated 26-0 season in 2019.

During the Fall World Series Falco tossed one scoreless inning, before throwing 1 2/3 innings against Army, where he struck out one batter and allowed three hits and three runs.

LHP Ryan Ramsey — Montvale, NJ (Pascack Hills High School)

Ramsey was the 2019 New Jersey pitcher of the year, after he led Pascack Hills with a combined 19-2 record in 142 innings pitched with 255 strikeouts. He was named All-State in both his junior and senior years, when he led the school to back-to-back state championships. He also tallied 107 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings pitched as a senior, allowing only six earned runs. Ramsey was drafted in the 36th round by the Cleveland Indians in the 2019 MLB Draft, but elected to continue his education and to further develop at Maryland.

Ramsey tossed two innings during the Fall World Series, striking out one and allowing five runs on three hits and two walks. Against Army Ramsey went 1 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on four hits and one walk.

RHP Nick Dean — Bensalem, Penn. (Bensalem High School)

As the third-ranked right-hander out of Pennsylvania, Dean helped Bensalem to a 23-4 finish and a district championship victory his junior year, when he tossed a 1.16 ERA in 48 1/3 innings pitched. He was also named First Team A–Suburban. While he missed his senior season due to injury, he has showed potential so far.

Dean went three innings during the Fall World Series, tallying three strikeouts with one walk and one hit-by-pitch. Against Army, Dean tossed two innings, striking out one while allowing two runs on one hit and two walks.

OF Troy Schreffler Jr. — Harrisburg, Penn. (Central Dauphin High School)

Schreffler Jr. was a two-time All-PIAA Conference honoree with Central Dauphin and an eight-time First Team All-Tournament honoree in club baseball. Primarily an outfielder, Schreffler also has experience as a pitcher.

Out of high school Schreffler was the fourth-ranked outfielder in Pennsylvania and the 11th-ranked player overall in the state. He tallied two singles during the Fall World Series with three more singles and an RBI against Army.

OF Tucker Flint — East Greenwich, RI (Bishop Hendricken High School)

The 2019 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year, Flint was the No. 1 overall player in the state of Rhode Island out of high school and was named the Providence Journal Rhode Island Baseball Athlete of the Year 2019.

Flint batted .545 his senior season with a .677 on-base percentage and 1.045 slugging (including seven triples), helping Bishop Hendricken to two state championships, including a 23-0 record in 2019, before he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Flint opted to continue his education at Maryland instead.

During the Fall World Series, Flint went 1-for-4 with a single, three walks and one hit-by-pitch. He also DH-ed against Army and went 2-for-5 with a single, a double and one RBI.

OF Bobby Zmarzlak — Stamford, Conn. (Westhill High School)

Out of high school, Zmarzlak was the No. 1 overall ranked player in Connecticut and the 17th-ranked outfielder nationally. Zmarzlak was named First Team All-FCIAC three times, with a .490 average and three homers as a senior, a .380 average and four homers as a junior, and a .430 average and nine homer runs as a sophomore. After his high school career, Zmarzlak was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 40th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.

During the Fall World Series, Zmarzlak went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk while designated hitting. He is the No. 1 prospect in the Big Ten according to Perfect Game.

INF Matt Orlando — Marlton, NJ (Bishop Eustace Prep High School)

Orlando was the fifth-ranked shortstop in New Jersey out of high school and has some experience on the mound.

In his high school career Orlando tallied 12 home runs and was a three-time All-South Jersey honoree. During the Fall World Series, Orlando showed off his strength at the plate with a three-RBI double.

INF Aaron Perez — Bronx, NY (All Hallows High School)

The No. 3 ranked shortstop in New York, Perez was named Perfect Game All-Tournament Team three times. As a senior at All Hallows, Perez slashed .280/.514/.560 in 12 games with seven stolen bases, a pair of triples, a double and one home run.

Perez had one plate appearance during the Fall World Series, when he walked on five pitches.

INF Michael Bouma — Brookeville, MD (Sherwood High School)

The No. 1 first baseman in Maryland, Bouma finished his career at Sherwood with a .433 average and 93 hits, including 11 home runs and 96 RBI. Bouma helped the Warriors to a State Championship runner-up finish in 2019 and was named All-Met/All-State both his junior and senior seasons. In all our years at Sherwood, Bouma’s lowest batting average was .339 his sophomore year.

Bouma went 1-for-5 during the Fall World Series with one walk and a single. He played first base and then spent some time at third against Army.

C James Heffley — Kensington, MD (Albert Einstein High School)

As a senior at Einstein, Heffley batted .510 as a senior and was named First Team All-Division from 2017-2019. He was also named Third Team All-State in 2018.

Heffley went 0-for-1 with an RBI on a sacrifice squeeze bunt during the Fall World Series, which he entered after junior catcher Justin Vought was hit in the wrist.

Preseason Countdown No. 12: Meet the newcomers — Transfers

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As we inch closer to the start of Maryland’s 2020 campaign, it’s time to get to know the new faces on the Terps’ squad; this season the team only picked up two transfers.

Here’s a breakdown of Maryland’s two new transfers.

JR INF/C Brenton Davis — Southeast Community College (JuCo in NE)

Davis comes to Maryland after two years at Southeast CC in Beatrice, Nebraska. The Nebraska native slashed .353/.479/.555 in his first season with the Storm in 2018, finishing with 10 doubles and 17 stolen bases.

Last season Davis split his time between second and third base, with some appearances at shortstop, while batting .299 while leading the team with 43 hits, 32 runs and 28 walks.  During the fall, Davis made the lineup as designated hitter, but with his experience all over the infield the junior could be a solid choice for the Terps to fill in the gaps left after last season.

JR INF Austin Chavis — Potomac State College of WVU (JuCo in WV)

A Bel Air, Maryland, native, Chavis spent two years at Potomac State before transferring to Maryland for this season. Chavis helped lead the Catamounts to a 35-11 record in 2018 and a 32-13 record in 2019.

His sophomore year at Potomac State, Chavis batted .331 in 45 games with 18 doubles, 51 RBI and a team-high seven home runs. He mainly played shortstop, turning 12 double plays last season. Though Chavis played second base during fall ball, the infielder, his experience on the left side of the infield could prove vital for the Terps this season.

Preseason Countdown No. 13: Biggest holes to fill in 2020

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Though the Terps only lost four seniors in 2019, those four were major players in Maryland’s offense and defense and their exits left four major holes to fill.

Starting on the mound, Terrapin ace Hunter Parsons finished his career with Maryland as head coach Rob Vaughn’s strongest arm. His 10-win senior campaign marks the third-most wins in a single season in team history, and his 17 career wins the fifth-most.

As a senior, Parsons’ series-opening starts provided much-needed momentum heading into big weekend series: even when the Terps lost the second and third matches, Parsons often secured the series-opener win to avoid a sweep. For instance, when Indiana came to town in late-March, Parsons pitched a shutout and tossed five strikeouts in eight innings, securing a 2-0 Maryland victory.

Parsons finished his time as a Terp with a dominant senior season, recording a 3.45 ERA  and 78 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. His strength on the mound led to a 19th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.

But Parsons wasn’t the only Terrapin pitcher to leave Maryland. Closer John Murphy’s time as a Terp also came to a close with the endow the 2019 season. As a senior Murphy recorded 11 saves, the third-most in a single season in team history, providing reliable late-inning relief.

Murphy closed out his Terrapin career with a 4.32 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings last season. After leaving Maryland, Murphy played independent ball with the USPBL Westside Wooly Mammoths, racking up 11 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched and one save.

In addition to the missing arms, the Terps also lost the left side of their infield. Both third baseman Taylor Wright and shortstop A.J. Lee finished their careers at Maryland last season after providing key defensive support and offensive production in 2019.

At the hot corner, Wright finished with a .940 fielding percentage after starting in all 58 of the Terps’ 2019 games. Wright’s bat came alive last season, slashing .290/.375/.429 with 32 RBI and a conference-high 20 doubles, more than twice as many as in 2018 (nine doubles) and the fourth-most in a single season in team history.

Shortstop A.J. Lee finished last season leading the Terps in batting average (.317), with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 36 RBI and a .443 on-base percentage. Lee was also the only Maryland batter to his a walk-off home run last season, launching the deciding two-run blast in the Terps’ series opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes for a 8-6 victory.

One of Maryland’s most-productive offensive leaders in 2019, Lee also had the second-most double plays on the team (33), behind only first baseman Maxwell Costes.

The second Terp drafted last year, the Houston Astros selected Lee in the 34th round of the MLB draft.

Both Wright and Lee earned All-Big Ten third team honors at the end of the season, as did Parsons.

Now, the Terps are tasked with filling four holes in their lineups.

Preseason Countdown No. 14: Best summer ball hitters

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Three of the Terps’ most-promising bats heading into this season followed last year’s impressive performances in Big Ten play with standout summers. Randy Bednar, Maxwell Costes, and Michael Pineiro all performed exceptionally well at the plate in summer league play. 

Bednar, who ended his sophomore campaign hitting at a .288 clip with a team- high 70 hits, continued to swing a hot bat with the Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. There, he hit .333 while compiling 44 RBI in just 48 games. Bednar complemented his formidable average with power, hammering nine home runs in his stint with the Swamp Bats. 

Not only was Bednar named one of the NECBL’s All-Stars, but he also received All-NECBL First Team honors.

Bednar’s summer league showing came on the heels of his second-team All-Big Ten sophomore season, giving the Terps a reason to set even higher expectations for their star right fielder. 

Pineiro also had a dominant summer league performance with the West Virginia Miners of the Prospect League. After finishing the 2019 season with a .252 batting average, Pineiro exploded, batting .333 over the summer. In only 36 games he managed to score and drive in 25 runs apiece. 

With the Miners Pineiro showed patience at the plate as well, drawing 23 walks for more than double his base-on-balls output from all of last season, an encouraging sign for the Terps. 

After a breakout freshman season last year, which amounted to 15 home runs and 45 RBI and earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten honors, Maxwell Costes continued to flex his power at the plate over the summer. 

 In summer league play Costes continued to rake with the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. There he exploded for 15 homers and 42 RBI in just 42 total games. Costes also improved on his .266 average in his freshman season, hitting .380 over the summer. 

Costes also shined in the postseason for the Mohawks, tallying three home runs and six RBI while hitting a monstrous .421. His performance over the course of summer play earned him 2019 PGCBL Player of the Year honors and a spot on the Mohawks’ All-Decade team.

One of the most impressive numbers of Costes’ summer was the mere 17 strikeouts, showing an improved plate discipline to build on in his sophomore season at Maryland.

If Bednar, Pineiro, and Costes can keep up their offensive production from summer league, the Terps could prove to be a dangerous lineup to face in the Big Ten.

 

 

Preseason Countdown No. 15: Five things we learned at Media Day

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The Terps hosted their annual Spring Sports Media Day on Wednesday, including appearances from head coach Rob Vaughn and outfielder Randy Bednar.

Here are five takeaways from those interviews:

1. Everything matters, nothing is special

Those five words epitomize Vaughn’s approach to this season; the team’s motto, basically.

“We’ve been preaching this concept,” Vaughn explained, “because what happens with young players is, the game becomes this thing you put up on a pedestal and you make it bigger than it is. [So] you see young guys so it right over and over and over in practice, and the the game rolls around and they make it special, they make it bigger than it is, and it makes it hard for them to operate.”

So far the team has responded well, but Vaughn won’t really know whether the approach has worked until the first game.

“[It’s] a super catchy phrase,” Vaughn said, “but the reality is if we live that, I think we have a chance to be okay. If you put that work in then you can go into gamely with confidence and just do your thing.”

2. A new-look team

With 14 freshmen and two transfers, the 2020 Maryland squad will look very different than it did a year ago. Though there are enough returners to fill the starting lineup, Vaughn plans on integrating newcomers in to create the best lineup possible.

“We have more depth,” Vaughn said,” so I think you’ll see 10-to-12, [maybe] 13 regular position players is involved…same thing on the mound, we’re going to try to put guys in the right spots.”

Right now, the only parts of the lineup that Vaughn knows for certain are the one and three spots. Expect to see Chris Alleyne leading off come February 14th, with Bednar hitting cleanup.

Potential freshmen who could make an appearance in the season-opener lineup include Troy Schreffler Jr., Tucker Flint, Bobby Zmarzlak and Aaron Perez.

3. There won’t be a set rotation for a while

Vaughn plans on having six or seven pitchers ready for opening weekend, a sort of “Starter A, Starter B” situation for each game. While the Terps’ skipper has an idea of which arms will take those spots, a lot could change in the next few weeks.

“There’s a lot of options,” Vaughn said. “That’s what you get with a young team, that’s why we want to prepare six, throw them out there and let it play out.”

Keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Sean Burke, who has “electric stuff” according to Vaughn and could be a strong contender for a rotation slot. Other first years with starter potential include Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey and Sam Bello.

In addition, two of last year’s starters, Zach Thompson and Trevor LaBonte, will likely be in the mix for a weekend role. Sean Fisher may also start some this season, as Vaughn has been transitioning the southpaw from a relief position to a starter’s schedule, hoping to try the junior out up front.

4. New No. 3 in town

Last season it was senior A.J. Lee who brought a lot of leadership to the Terps. This season it’s Randy Bednar who has transitioned into that role.

As Vaughn explained, the Maryland coaching staff has three key pillars in their program: toughness, ownership, and the growth mindset. Historically, the No. 3 jersey has gone to the player who best exemplified those qualities (back in his time as a Terp, assistant coach Anthony Papio wore No. 3).

This year it’s Bednar who dons the jersey.

“He shows up to work everyday,” Vaughn said. “He takes care of his business, classes, he’s on the Dean’s list as a junior…[he’s] a great, great representative of what it means to be a Maryland Baseball player. And on top of that…he’s starting to learn how to demand that the people around him rise up to his occasion.”

5. The team has high expectations for the season

Every team across college baseball has high expectations for itself. But even though the Terps made the Big Ten Tournament last season, they know they can go much further this season with the level of talent on the team.

“Seeing we could get there makes us know that we could do a lot more,” Bednar said. “Especially this year. I believe we’ve got all the talent…we have the capability of winning a Big Ten Championship, we have the capability of going out there and playing for a regional.”

“I think the sky’s the limit to this group,” Vaughn said. “Our players expect to win because they know how hard they’ve worked, they know how much time they spent getting after it every day.”

Preseason Countdown No. 16: Standout Summer Pitchers

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Over the summer of 2019, nine Maryland pitchers appeared across five different summer leagues. These pitchers combined for seven wins and five saves 78 appearances, 15 of them starts. Of the nine hurlers to get innings over the summer, the two who stood out the most were two veteran bullpen arms, Sean Fisher and Elliot Zoellner. 

Sean Fisher, LHP, Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod League): 12 apps, 25.1 IP, 3-0, 3 SV, 2.84 ERA, 15 K/4 BB

Fisher, a junior from Parsonsburg, led the Whitecaps in appearances and was named the teams reliever of the season. Fisher’s role in Brewster was similar to his one in College Park, often going multiple innings, including over three innings four times.

The southpaw pitched to contact over the summer as he did in the spring, with relatively low numbers of both strikeouts and walks. But while his style remained the same, his results differed wildly, with an ERA more than four runs lower than his mark from the spring.

While Fisher was solid from start to finish over the summer, his two-week period from July 10 to 24 sealed him as the team’s reliever of the season. Over four appearances in that span, Fisher went 12 ⅔ innings over four appearances without allowing an earned run and recording three wins and a save.

With the departure of closer John Murphy, Fisher figures to take on a larger role in the Terps’ bullpen, with more appearances in more crucial situations.  

Elliot Zoellner, RHP, Bethesda Big Train (Ripken): 12 apps, 16 IP, 1-0, 1 SV, 1.12 ERA, 17 K/5 BB

Zoellner was a key cog of the Big Train’s championship team, coming second on the team with 12 appearances and allowing only two runs. The senior from Annapolis was coming off a tough spring where he had a 7.40 ERA in 18 appearances. Like Fisher, Zoellner was almost lights-out from start to finish, with 11 of his 16 appearances ending scoreless, including six consecutive shutout appearances to end the summer.

Zoellner was mostly a short-innings option, going only an inning over four times. While he did not have many long outings, he was also consistently getting outs, never going less that a full inning after failing to record three outs eight times in the spring.

Like Fisher, the righty sidewinder has the potential to be a key veteran presence in the Terps bullpen, as the only senior reliever on the roster. While the experience can be helpful regardless of on-field performance, Zoellner’s ability to carry his summer-ball form into the spring could be a key to the reliability of Maryland’s bullpen. 

Preseason Countdown No. 17: Best Stories of 2019

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With just 17 days left until Maryland baseball returns, here’s a look back on some of the best stories written about the Terps’ 2019 campaign.


From the Maryland Baseball Network…

Two first-year starters had breakout weekends vs. Maine

Maryland experimented on defense so it could use its hottest hitter vs. Delaware

Chris Alleyne began the season on the bench. Now, he’s atop Maryland’s lineup

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

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

From The Diamondback…

With a new mindset, Randy Bednar is raking for Maryland baseball

Hovering around .500, Maryland baseball believes it’s ‘really close’ to a breakthrough

Tyler Blohm’s return to the mound is a promising sign for Maryland baseball

After sluggish start, AJ Lee has led Maryland baseball’s run to the Big Ten tournament

From Testudo Times…

Maryland baseball’s Mike Shawaryn is making the most of his opportunity with the Boston Red Sox

From Independent sources…

Don’t Jinx It: Maryland baseball’s superstitions

Preseason Countdown No. 18: Best Comeback of 2019

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Trailing Illinois 2-0 on April 5th, the Terps had just one hit to their name entering the game’s final frame. But a four-run ninth inning put Maryland over the top to give the team its biggest comeback of the 2019 season and propel the Terps to their first series win in almost a month.

Leading off the inning was senior shortstop A.J. Lee, who quickly found his way on base with a single. Right fielder Randy Bednar followed with a knock of his own to put two men on with no outs.

Small ball became the key for success for Maryland as coach Vaughn called for a bunt with heavy hitter Taylor Wright stepping to the plate. The third baseman placed one off the mound, scoring Lee.

The runner was soon replaced, as first baseman Maxwell Costes was pegged by Fighting Illini pitcher Garrott Acton. The hit-by-pitch was Costes’ 11th of the season, a conference high. (He finished the season with the most hit-by-pitches in the conference, 19).

Left fielder Caleb Walls placed down another bunt for Maryland, driving in the tying run as Bednar crossed the plate.

The Terps took the lead late in the ninth, as their offensive outburst continued in an atypical fashion. A wild pitch by Acton scored Michael Pineiro, who pinch-ran for Costes, and Walls on a throwing error during the same play, increasing Maryland’s lead to 4-2.

With just three hits in the game, two of which came in the final inning, the Terps won with the least amount of knocks since 2018.

On the other side of the ball, ace Hunter Parsons had a strong outing in the weekend opener. The righty went eight innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Closer John Murphy came in with the Terps leading in the ninth to earn his sixth save of the season with two strikeouts in the half.

The win proved to be a turning point in Maryland’s season as well. The team went into Champagne, Illinois, with 47 conceded runs in its last three games, all of which had resulted in losses.

After taking the series from the Fighting Illini on the road, the Terps moved to eighth in the conference and proceeded to win two of their next three weekend series against Big Ten opponents.

Preseason Countdown No. 19: Best moment of 2019

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While the 2019 season didn’t end the way the Terps may have wanted, falling 10-4 to the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament, the game itself contained arguably the greatest moment of the season.

Senior infielder A.J Lee was among the team-leaders in a multitude of stats as his final year at Maryland came to a close, including batting average (1st, .317), on-base percentage (1st, .443), on-base percentage plus slugging (2nd, .940), and stolen bases (2nd, 10), and he had certainly been one of the strongest leaders in the Terps’ clubhouse.

When Maryland entered the ninth inning of the game, down 10-3, it was fairly certain that Lee would take his last plate appearance as a Terrapin. But when Lee stepped up to the plate for the final time, he made sure it counted.

The emotional home run wasn’t enough to push Maryland to a victory, but it was a sweet way to cap off an incredible 2019 season where he slashed .317/.443/.497 and slugged for seven home runs and 36 RBI.

Lee was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 34th round of the 2019 MLB Draft and spent his summer splitting time between the low-A Quad City River Bandits and short-season A Tri-City Valley Cats, where he slashed .211/.327/.354 with five home runs.