The New York Yankees selected Maryland shortstop Ben Cowles in the 10th round (303rd overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising senior was the second Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The Newark, New York product starred both on the mound and at the plate in high school, but was recruited by the Terps as a position player. His presence was immediately felt in the lineup, as he started 50 of the 58 games during his freshman season. However, Cowles struggled with his bat, slashing just .200/.317/.314 with three homers and 15 RBIs.
After spending most of his freshman year at second base, he transitioned to shortstop prior to his sophomore season, where he started every game. Albeit the shortened season, Cowles saw his offensive numbers surge in his limited time at the plate. He matched his freshman total with three home runs in only 15 games while ranking third on the club with 14 RBIs. Cowles credited his offensive success to hitting coach Matt Swope, who worked with shortstop on his swing and helped fine-tune his approach at the plate.
Although Cowles made strides on offense during his sophomore campaign, no one could have expected the breakout season he would have in 2021.
The righty, who does not consider himself a power hitter, began the season hot at the plate and never cooled off. In March, he hit five homers in three games against Rutgers, which earned him Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. In mid May, the junior went 7 for 15 including homers in three straight games. By the season’s end, he finished with 18 home runs, fourth most in program history and most by a Terp in nearly two decades. He ranked second in the conference with 51 RBIs and finished top four on the team in OPS (first), hits (second), runs (third), average (fourth) and stolen bases (fourth).
He also excelled in the field, ranking second in the conference in both assists and fielding percentage among shortstops. His breakout season earned him a spot on the First Team All-Big Ten list and he also was named a Third Team All-American by Baseball America.
It is unknown whether Cowles will sign a contract with the Yankees or return to College Park in the fall.