Pro Terps Update: 7/5/2017

Maryland baseball has had a busy few weeks, but former Terps have been making headlines as well. Multiple Maryland players have signed professional contracts after being drafted, while others are excelling at higher levels.

Adam Kolarek, who was called up last week by the Tampa Bay Rays, continues to come out of the bullpen and pitch well. He appeared against his hometown team, the Orioles, on July 1. Kolarek has now pitched 2.1 scoreless innings for the Rays, allowing just one hit. 

Kolarek joins Brett Cecil as the only Terps in the MLB. Cecil, a fellow left-handed reliever, has been throwing the ball very well as of late. His ERA was 5.66 a little over a month ago, but is now 3.69. He has not given up a run since June 7, and just turned 31 a few days ago.

With Kolarek graduating to the big leagues, several other Terps are tearing it up in the minors. RHP Mike Shawaryn has continued to impress with the High-A Salem Red Sox (Boston Red Sox). In his last two starts, the right-hander has pitched 12 innings, striking out 11 while surrendering just one run.

Elsewhere in High-A ball, 2B Brandon Lowe is continuing his All-Star season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays). Lowe has five hits in his last four games, and leads the Florida State League in average (.333), OBP (.420), slugging (.593) and doubles (27). 

LHP Alex Robinson is having his most consistent professional season with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins). Robinson has an ERA just over 3.00, and is striking out nearly 12 batters every nine innings. His fellow Terp in the Twins system, OF LaMonte Wade, is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). Wade has increased his average to .280, and has more walks (54) than strikeouts (46).

3B Jose Cuas is hitting under .200 this year with the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and High-A Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers), but has been walking a lot, with an OBP near .300. RHP Jake Stinnett of the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs) has still not seen any action yet as he returns from an injury.

Numerous Terps have started their professional careers over the past few weeks. RHP Ryan Selmer, who was assigned to the Kingsport Mets (New York Mets) of the Appalachian League, has thrown two scoreless innings on the mound. SS Kevin Smith started out in rookie ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto Blue Jays). He began his professional career very slowly, hitting .161 in his first seven games, but has five hits in his last three games, including three doubles.

RHP Brian Shaffer, a sixth-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks last month, has made two appearances, one in rookie-ball and one in Short Season-A. The tall right-hander struck out two in his first inning of work for the Short-Season Hillsboro Hops. RHP Jamal Wade, LaMonte’s brother, recently signed with the Seattle Mariners, and has thrown one scoreless frame for the rookie-ball AZL Mariners. 

Former Terps lefty Adam Kolarek called up to Tampa Bay Rays

Former Maryland left-hander Adam Kolarek has been called up to the Tampa Bay Rays after spending parts of eight seasons in the minors. Kolarek, 28, pitched for the Terps from 2008 to 2010 before being selected in the 11th round (332nd overall) by the New York Mets in the 2010 MLB Draft. He joins fellow southpaw reliever Brett Cecil as the only Terps currently in the major leagues.

Over his three years at Maryland, Kolarek made 60 appearances (51 in relief) spanning 111 innings. The Catonsville, Maryland, native pitched to a lofty 5.03 ERA but often kept hitters off balance, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning in both his freshman and junior seasons. He was a workhorse for the Terps, ranking in the top three on the team in appearances in his first two years in College Park.

After being drafted, Kolarek spent his first six pro seasons in the Mets organization. He enjoyed great success early in his minor league career, posting a sub-3 ERA in three of his first four campaigns. In 2013, he turned what was at that point his finest performance in the minors. After struggling in a brief stint in Triple-A, he dominated for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, tossing 63 frames with a 1.71 ERA and .204 opponents’ batting average. He couldn’t replicate his success at the same level, however, posting an ERA north of six in 2014 and a 4.43 mark a year later in 2015.

At the end of the 2015 season, the Mets released Kolarek, and he briefly signed on with his hometown Baltimore Orioles, before being claimed off waivers by the Rays.

He began the 2016 season and his Tampa Bay organization career with the Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A), making 13 appearances with a 3.32 ERA before his promotion to Triple-A Durham. In 34 relief appearances with the Bulls, he pitched to a 3.05 ERA and held opponents to a meager .194 mark at the plate while averaging over a strikeout per inning. He continued to dominate this spring with Durham, posting a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings pitched, which earned his call-up to the show.

The promotion is well-timed, as the Rays travel to Baltimore this weekend for a three-game set with the Orioles, so Kolarek may get the opportunity to pitch in front of his hometown crowd.

With Kolarek joining Cecil in the big leagues, there are multiple Terps in the majors for the first time since September 1, 2015, when former Maryland outfielder Justin Maxwell was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants.

Featured image courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Pro Terps Update: 6/20/17

Two former Terps have already signed with their pro teams after last week’s 2017 MLB Draft, while many minor league teams have hit the All-Star Break, with a few Maryland alumni involved.

One of those all stars is former Maryland 2B Brandon Lowe, who appeared in the Florida State League All-Star Game after a dominant first half with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays). Through 51 games this season, Lowe has posted a league-best 1.063 OPS and .433 OBP while launching nine home runs. The 2015 draftee hasn’t played since June 5 due to injury, but he was activated off the disabled list Monday.

While Lowe is slowly trending towards the major leagues, LHP Brett Cecil is still the only Terp in the big leagues. After nine seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Cecil signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason, but has struggled so far in the Cardinals bullpen. His 4.56 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 25.2 innings caused him to lose his spot as the set-up man, but Cecil has started to pull it together lately. The lefty has held opponents scoreless in 12 of his last 13 appearances. He was also able to make a mid-season number change after the Cardinals designated SS Jhonny Peralta for assignment.

With Cecil being the only big-leaguer, LHP Adam Kolarek is at the highest level in the minor leagues among former Terps. Kolarek has thrown 30.1 innings for the Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) and has posted a minuscule 1.48 ERA. He is not on the Rays’ 40-man roster, but the team only has one lefty in the big leagues, so Kolarek could be getting the call-up some time this summer.

Kolarek is the most advanced prospect, but RHP Mike Shawaryn is the top-rated former Terp. Shawaryn is now the No. 11 ranked prospect in the Boston Red Sox system and was promoted to the Advanced-A Salem Red Sox in early June. In 13 starts this season, the righty has pitched to a 4.62 ERA and struck out 89 batters while walking only 18 over 64.1 innings. He has had seven starts with at least eight strikeouts. His lofty ERA is the result of early struggles with Salem and his first start of the season with the Class-A Greenville Drive, when he gave up nine earned runs over two innings.

Another high-rising Terp is OF LaMonte Wade, who is with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins). In 64 games this season, Wade is slashing .276/.413/.379 with four home runs and was named to Southern League All-Star Team. His outfield defense continues to improve and the left-handed hitter is actually hitting lefties better so far this season, which bodes well for a potential call-up.

LHP Alex Robinson, who is also in the Twins organization, has had success as well this season with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. Robinson has posted a 3.60 ERA and struck out 38 batters over 30 innings this season, while he continues to pump the fastball close to 100 mph.

Three other former Maryland lefties are also trying to climb their way through the minor leagues. LHP Jake Drossner (Milwaukee Brewers), who made one appearance for the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattler and allowed one run over four innings back in April, has been assigned to the Rookie Helena Brewers, who start their season this week. LHP Zach Morris (Philadelphia Phillies) and LHP Jimmy Reed (St. Louis Cardinals) were both released by their organizations earlier this season.

Like Drossner, RHP Kevin Mooney (Washington Nationals) starts his season this week for the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays. Mooney, who allowed opposing batters to hit only .209 off him last season, should start this year as the Doubledays’ closer, the same spot he held in the Maryland bullpen back in 2015.

RHP Jake Stinnett (Chicago Cubs) has not yet appeared in a game this season for the Single-A Tennessee Smokies as he rehabs an injury. However, the righty did make it into the Cubs’ Top-30 prospects list at the beginning of the season.

As far as 2017 draft picks go, RHP Ryan Selmer (New York Mets) and SS Kevin Smith (Toronto Blue Jays) are the only two Terps to have already signed their professional contracts. Meanwhile, RHP Jared Price (Miami Marlins) has not signed yet, but should start his pro career soon as the redshirt senior can not come back for another year at Maryland.

Six current Terps, three signees selected in 2017 MLB Draft

Kevin Smith and Brian Shaffer highlighted a list of nine Terps, three of whom are incoming freshmen, who were taken in the 2017 MLB Draft this week.

Kevin Smith was drafted in the 4th round by the Toronto Blue Jays (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Smith, who received preseason All-American honors in January, was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 4th round, 129th overall. The shortstop hit .268 with a team-best 13 homers and 48 RBIs this season, and was named to the Big Ten Tournament All-Tournament team. A native of East Greenbush, New York, Smith is the highest draft pick out of Maryland since the Tampa Bay Rays took Brandon Lowe in the 3rd round in 2015.

Like Smith, Shaffer received numerous accolades this season, including Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and Third Team All-American, after going 7-4 with a 2.66 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 6th round, 172nd overall, giving the Terps two top-2oo picks for the second time in three years.

With just one season on the mound under his belt, Jamal Wade was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 17th round. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

After Smith and Shaffer went on day two of the draft Tuesday, right-hander Jamal Wade (17th round, 513th overall, Seattle Mariners) was the first to go on day three. Wade spent the first two seasons of his college career as a power-hitting outfielder and DH, but after seeing time on the mound last summer, transitioned into a flame-throwing bullpen arm. The Owings Mills, Maryland, native touched the mid-90s with his fastball this season, which he paired with a devastating curveball that gave him 33 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.

Outfielder Marty Costes, who earned First Team All-Big Ten honors this spring and Freshman All-American honors a year ago, was taken in the 25th round, 751st overall, by the Houston Astros. A draft-eligibile sophomore, Costes hit .322 with 46 RBIs and tied with Smith for the team-lead in home runs (13). Over two seasons in College Park, he slashed .296/.400/.517 with 22 homers and 83 RBIs.

A mainstay in the Terps’ bullpen for three seasons, Ryan Selmer went to the New York Mets in the 31st round.
(Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

Ryan Selmer, the 6-foot-8 right-hander who served as the Terps’ closer this season, went in the 31st round, 937th overall, to the New York Mets. While he doesn’t possess the strikeout stuff that Wade does, Selmer anchored himself as one of the most reliable arms in the Maryland bullpen over his three seasons as a Terp. His 85 appearances (81 in relief) over the past three years lead the Terps in that span, and the Beltsville, Maryland, native will go into the pro ranks with a 3.07 college ERA to his name.

Another right-handed bullpen arm, Jared Price, was selected late in the draft, going to the Miami Marlins in the 37th round, 1109th overall. Price, a fifth-year senior, sits in the mid-90s on the radar gun, and after posting a 3.04 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23.2 innings this season, proved he can be a valuable late-inning asset.

In addition to the six Terps selected, three Maryland signees who are scheduled to arrive on campus in the fall heard their name called on Wednesday. Randy Bednar, an outfielder and left-handed pitcher out of the Landon School (Bethesda, Md.) was selected in the 27th round, 800th overall, by the Atlanta Braves. Bednar went 27-for-49 (.551) at the plate this spring while striking out 32 in 19 innings on the mound. Justin Vought, a catcher from Wyoming Valley West High School (Plymouth, Pa.), was taken by the 31st round, 930th overall, by the Kansas City Royals. The incoming freshman hit .474 in 43 at bats as a senior this spring. Right-hander Mark DiLuia (Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights, Ill.) was taken in the 38th round, 1154th overall, by the Texas Rangers.

Jared Price drafted in 37th round by Miami Marlins

Maryland reliever Jared Price was drafted in the 37th round (1109th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft Wednesday. It is the second time Price has been drafted, as he was drafted out of high school in 2012 by the New York Mets (33rd round).

Red shirt senior Jared Price pitches for Team Martir 10/23/16 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Price, a fifth-year senior, has had an up-and-down career in College Park, but finished on a high note with his best collegiate season in 2017. He struggled in his first three years as a Terp, pitching to an ERA around six in each of those three seasons. Looking to end his career strong, Price instead missed most of his senior season in 2016 with an injury, making just two appearances.

He received an extra year of eligibility to pitch in 2017 and made the most of it, becoming an integral part of the Terps’ bullpen. He threw 23.2 innings, more than he had in 2015 and 2016 combined, and turned in a career-best 3.04 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Price, who features a mid-90s fastball, struck out 27 batters in 23.2 frames while walking just nine.

His best outing as a Terp was one of his last: a 4.2 inning outing against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in which he picked up the win and helped Maryland solidify its NCAA Tournament resume.

Before the draft, MBN’s Noah Gross broke down Price’s draft prospects.

Ryan Selmer drafted in 31st round by New York Mets

Right-hander Ryan Selmer, the Terps closer in 2017, was selected in the 31st round (937th overall) by the New York Mets in the MLB Draft, Wednesday.

Selmer departs College Park after having been a mainstay in the Maryland bullpen for three seasons. As a freshman in 2015, he tied a program record for most appearances in a season, working in 31 games (27 relief appearances and four starts) while compiling a 2.18 ERA.

Redshirt Junior Ryan Selmer pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

Over the next two seasons, the 6-foot-8 right-hander took the mound 54 more times for Maryland, more than anyone else on the team over that time. As a junior in 2017, Selmer pitched 41.1 innings at the back end of the Terps bullpen, registering eight saves and a 3.05 ERA. Although he was nominally the closer, he had eight appearances in which he pitched multiple innings, including two games that he went at least four frames.

Arguably the Beltsville native’s best game of the season came on one of the biggest stages, as Selmer entered the Big Ten Tournament semifinal against Northwestern in the second inning and proceeded to hurl 5.2 innings of one-run ball against the Wildcats, while striking out three and giving up just four hits. The Terps lost the game 6-5, but through no fault of Selmer’s, who kept Maryland in the game long enough to mount an electrifying comeback from 6-0 deficit.

Selmer is the fifth Terp to be taken in this year’s draft and the third pitcher.

Marty Costes drafted in 25th round by Houston Astros

Maryland outfielder Marty Costes was selected by the Houston Astros in the 25th round (751st overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft Wednesday. He is the fourth Terp taken in this draft, and the second one taken Wednesday.

Sophomore Marty Costes smacks a ball down the third base line. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 5/9/2017

Costes, just a draft-eligible sophomore, has emerged as one of Maryland’s best hitters over his two seasons as a Terp. The Baltimore native came to College Park as an infielder, but quickly transitioned to left field. As a freshman in 2016, he led the Terps with nine home runs, 37 RBIs and a .462 slugging percentage. He was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and an All-Big Ten Freshman.

After refining his craft over the summer with the Cal Ripken League’s Baltimore Redbirds, Costes blossomed into one of the best all-around hitters in the Big Ten this season. His 13 homers tied Kevin Smith for the team lead, while he Maryland in batting average for most of the season and finished third on the team with a .322 mark. He earned Big Ten First Team honors for his performance at the plate.

Over two years at Maryland, Costes has a .296/.400/.517 line, with 19 doubles, 22 homers and 83 RBIs in 115 games.

Costes is the highest Terps outfielder to be drafted since LaMonte Wade was taken in the 9th round of the 2015 draft. MBN’s Max Marcilla analyzed Costes’ draft stock prior to the draft.