Chicago White Sox draft Sean Burke in third round

The Chicago White Sox selected Maryland right-hander Sean Burke in the third round (94th overall) of the MLB Draft on Monday. The rising junior was the first Terrapin taken in the 2021 MLB Draft.

The Sutton, Mass. native went undrafted out of St. John’s High School in 2018 and chose Maryland over various Power Five schools such as Virginia and Boston College. Burke’s time in College Park got off to a rough start when the righty missed his freshman year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

When Burke finally returned to the hill, he shined. He made four starts and led the team in multiple pitching categories, including innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. His 35 strikeouts ranked first among freshmen in Division I. Burke credited Tommy John surgery for his success in 2020.

“Obviously, at the time, I was upset that it happened,” Burke said in an interview with Baseball Prospect Journal prior to the 2021 season, “But because of that, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for that surgery,” he said.

The Perfect Game Preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year picked up where he left off to begin the 2021 campaign, striking out 13 Spartans in six innings at Michigan State on Opening Day. Three weeks later, the imposing right-hander, who stands in at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, recorded 11 strikeouts and allowed one earned run against Iowa. 

He pitched his best down the stretch, striking out 12 and taking a no-hitter deep into the seventh inning against Indiana in the final regular-season series of the year. With the Terps’ season on the line, Burke stepped up once again, tossing six scoreless frames and striking out eight against Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament.

He finished the year with 107 strikeouts, which ranked second in the Big Ten and sixth-most in program history. His 12.96 strikeouts per nine innings was the fourth-best mark in Terrapin history and he finished third among starters in the conference with a .178 batting average against.

The right-hander boasts a four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider from a three-quarters arm slot, which he added last offseason. He relies primarily on his fastball and curveball, which he experimented with prior to the 2021 season and changed his grip from the traditional grip to a knuckle curveball grip.

Burke’s fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range and elevates up in the zone, which prompted his high strikeout rates. His secondary pitches have led to inconsistency, with some scouts wishing he would choose between his curve and slider. His command is also an issue, as he walked five or more batters three times in 14 appearances last season. 

Some scouts envision Burke moving into a relief role due to his fastball-breaking ball combination if he struggles as a starter at the professional level.

It is unknown whether Burke will sign a contract with the White Sox or return to College Park in the fall.

Preseason Countdown No. 4: Outfield preview


In 2019, the Maryland outfield had proven to be one of the team’s offensive and defensive strengths, and the bulk of that outfield will be returning for the 2020 season.

Highlighted by juniors Randy Bednar and Chris Alleyne along with senior Caleb Walls, the outfield features plenty of new faces as well, including three freshmen and the returning Ben Irvine.

Here is a breakdown of each Terp that’s expected to be roaming the outfield this Spring:

Junior Randy Bednar bednar

The returning Bednar is coming off a spectacular offensive 2019, slashing .288/.362/.531 as his .893 OPS ranked third on the team. Bednar also led the team in total bases (129) and racked up a team-high 55 RBI.

Bednar will likely continue to be the Terps’ stalwart right fielder in 2020 and should be a solid leader for the incoming freshmen.

Senior Caleb WallsWalls082818_02

As a redshirt junior, Walls put up pretty solid numbers as the everyday left fielder in 2019, getting on base at a .352 clip and hitting for a .704 OPS.

He’ll attempt to repeat his on-base tendencies in 2020, as his .352 OBP was over .100 points higher than his batting average.

Junior Chris Alleyne Alleyne090518_01

The second junior to be likely starting in the outfield in 2020, Alleyne will be bringing his incredible glove and agility back to Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

After hitting for a quality .749 OPS in 2019, “Bubba” will look to improve upon that while maintaining his game-changing range in center field.

Senior Ben Irvine Irvine082818_01

Irvine only made 14 appearances in his debut season last year, three of those being starts. He batted .087 with an OBP of .158 but didn’t see much playing time following April.

With a rather-crowded outfield compared to last season with three incoming freshmen, Irvine will likely still get the majority of his plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.

Freshman Troy Schreffler Jr. Schreffler_2020

Schreffler Jr., who pitched as well as playing the outfield at Central Dauphin High School in Pennsylvania, will strictly be an outfielder for the Terps in his freshman year.

The freshman was ranked as the 11th-best player in the state of Pennsylvania, and in the Terps’ Fall World Series games recorded a pair of singles.

Freshman Tucker Flint Flint_2020

Flint was awarded the title of 2019 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year in his senior year at Bishop Hendricken High School. He had been drafted by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 2019 MLB Draft but opted to commit to Maryland.

With the core of Maryland’s outfield being made of a senior and two juniors, Flint leads a very talented group of freshmen outfielder looking to make their presence known.

Freshman Bobby Zmarzlak Zmarzlak_2020

Like fellow freshman Tucker Flint, Zmarzlak was also drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft — selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 40th round. Nationally, Zmarzlak ranked 17th among all outfielders and was the No. 1 ranked player in Connecticut.

Named the No. 1 prospect in the Big Ten, according to Perfect Game, Zmarzlak will look to have a huge impact as he leads the incoming freshmen with his teammate Flint.

AJ Lee earns Big Ten Player of the Week honors

Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics

Maryland senior shortstop AJ Lee has been named Big Ten Player of the Week after a dominant four games. It is Lee’s first weekly conference honor of the season.

In one game against James Madison and three games against Iowa this week, Lee hit .588 (10-for-17) with three home runs, two doubles and six RBI. He also worked two walks, stole two bases and came in to score eight times in the four Maryland victories.

Lee homered in each of the first three games of the weekend, including the biggest home run of his career — a walk-off bomb against Iowa Thursday night.

The senior started his great week by snapping an 0-for-25 slump in Tuesday’s 6-5 win over James Madison, recording a hit in his final three at-bats. He singled in the sixth and seventh, and then hit what turned out to be a game-winning solo home run in the top of the ninth.

He followed that up with a 3-for-4 day in Thursday’s opener against the Hawkeyes. Before the walk-off long ball, he singled twice and put down an RBI sacrifice bunt.

On Friday against Iowa, Lee put together a 2-for-4 day. He singled in the fifth and then hit his third home run in as many games with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.

In Saturday’s regular season finale, Lee posted another 2-for-4. After reaching on errors in his first two at-bats, he doubled in the fourth and fifth innings. Then, in his final career plate appearance at Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium, Iowa showed Lee the ultimate form of respect, and sent him to first base on an intentional walk.

Lee and the Terps will now head to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2019 Big Ten Tournament, where they will play their opening game against Illinois at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Pregame coverage will start at 9:30 a.m. with Zach Solon on the call live from TD Ameritrade Trade Park on the Maryland Baseball Network.

Terps drop series finale against PSU

Maryland clinched the series win earlier today in the first game of Saturday’s double header but were not able to complete the sweep in a 10-7 loss to the Nittany Lions in Game 2.

Both offenses put on a hitting clinic in the evening game as the Terps tallied 11 hits and Penn State had 13. The difference in the game came by the walk. Terps pitchers allowed six bases on balls while the Nittany Lions staff only allowed two.

The Terps jumped ahead in the top of the first inning after two straight hits off PSU starter Bailey Dees from AJ Lee and Randy Bednar. Taylor Wright bunted them over to move the runners over to second and third base. Penn State then nabbed Lee at home from a fielder’s choice off the bat of Max Costes. Caleb Walls then lined a single to right field to score Bednar and give Maryland a 1-0 lead.

Penn State tied it up in the bottom of the 1st inning and took the lead in the third which was a huge inning for the Nittany Lions. They scored 5 runs on 5 hits. All of the runs driven in were off Penn State singles from Ryan Ford, Ryan Sloniger, Mac Hippenhammer, and Conlin Hughes.

Terps starter Trevor LaBonte was pulled after the second Penn State run came across but was responsible for the three runners left on base when Drew Wilden came into the game, which he all let score. This ended LaBonte’s day with 2 innings pitched, 5 earned runs, 3 hits, and 3 walks.

In the 4th inning, Justin Vought led off the inning with a hit by pitch, Michael Pineiro singled, and Ben Cowles reached on a throwing error from pitcher Mason Mellott to load the bases.

Chris Alleyne was then hit by a pitch to score a run. The next batter, Lee, grounded a ball to the shortstop who flipped to second base for one out, but second baseman Kremer through it past the first baseman which allowed Lee to be safe at first. Pineiro and Cowles scored on the play to make it 6-4 Nittany Lions.

Penn State tacked on another run in the bottom of the 4th off of a double play from Kremer which scored Jordan Bowersox to make it 7-4.

The Terps pesky offense scratched across two more runs in the 5th off a Pineiro 2 RBI single which was set up by a sacrifice bunt by Vought that moved Wall and Costes to second and third base, respectively. That pulled the score to 7-6.

But Maryland pitching just could not hold these Nittany Lion bats quiet after Sean Fisher came in for Mark DiLuia in the bottom of the 5th inning. Derek Orndorff drove a Fisher delivering to right center field for a 2 RBI double to make it 9-6.

Maryland’s final run came in the sixth off of a Wright single that drove in Lee.

Hippenhammer led the way offensively for the Nittany Lions, going 3 for 5 with a triple and two runs scored. Kyle Virbitsky came into pitch for Penn State in the 7th, going 3 strong innings, allowing 0 runs despite 3 hits and 2 walks.

For the Terps, Pineiro was 3 for 5 with 2 RBI in the loss, which moved Maryland to 22-22 on the season.

Maryland’s next game will be Wednesday, May 1 at Villanova. First pitch will be at 3:30 p.m.

Maryland Beats VCU In Convincing Fashion 10-5

On a day highlighted by their offense, Maryland was able to grab a convincing win at home over the VCU Rams. Ten runs on 17 hits helped the Terps put their home struggles to rest at least for now.

The Rams struck quickly with a leadoff home run on Tyler Blohm’s second pitch of the day. Brett Norwood got a fastball and didn’t miss; driving the ball to deep right-center field and over the wall next to the batters eye.

The Terps were able to strike back, however, on a single by freshman first baseman Maxwell Costes scoring Randy Bednar. This gave Blohm a clean slate in the second inning as he set then set down the Rams seven, eight, and nine hitters en route to a 1-2-3 inning. Blohm also struck out the last two batters of that inning looking. Daniel O’Connor came in to relieve Blohm to start the third inning.

Maryland began the second inning with back to back singles from Justin Vought and Michal Piniero before second baseman Ben Cowles reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt to load the bases. Junior Ben Irvine followed with a groundout to first base driving in the Terps second run and giving them the lead.

The great bottom of the second continued when Randy Bednar knocked in both Cowles and Michael Pineiro on a two-RBI single. Taylor Wright followed Bednar and promptly drove him in on an RBI double giving the Terps a convincing 5-1 lead after two innings

O’Connor allowed three earned runs and was able to retire just one batter before he was relieved by sophomore Sean Fisher in the third inning. The Rams refused to give up, getting runners on base and continuing to fight back in the game.

In the bottom of the fourth AJ Lee extended the Maryland lead to 6-4 with a two-out solo shot to left field. This gave him his third homer of the year and put him in a tie with teammate Josh Maguire for fifth on the team.

The Terps continued to put baserunners on in the inning, loading the bases for Josh Maguire and the freshman came through. A single up the middle scored both Randy Bednar and Taylor Wright and extended the Terps lead to 8-4. Ben Cowles followed up the next inning with a solo shot of his own; a towering shot to left center field extending the lead to 9-4.

This gave Sean Fisher a cushion to work with heading into his second full inning of work. Fisher shut down the Rams through the fifth before handing the ball off to freshman Drew Wilden.

Wilden would shut down the Rams in the sixth and got two quick outs in the seventh before allowing a double and a single to Paul Witt and Liam Hibbits respectively cutting the Terps lead to four. Andrew Vail, a freshman, came in to relieve Wilden, inheriting two baserunners but escaping the inning.

The Terps added one more run of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning after Ben Cowles hit the top of the batters eye, narrowly missing a home run. He was then driven in on what was ruled a single for AJ Lee. Lee hit the ball on the ground to the VCU second baseman who was playing in to cut the runner down at home; he was not able to get either out after bobbling the ball.

The Terps will look to add to this win over a good VCU team in their upcoming three-game set this weekend at Penn State. Maryland will also look to continue their success on the road, currently, at 11-8 on the road, the Terps will have a good chance to add to this against a less than spectacular Penn State squad. The Nittany Lions currently sit at 17-18 overall.



Maryland Falls To 18-18 In Blowout Loss To James Madison

It was an ugly day on both sides of the ball for Maryland as they were beaten 14-1 by the James Madison Dukes at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

It was a quick start for James Madison’s offense as they quickly got to Terps starter Sean Heine in the first inning for five runs. After a hit batsman and a double, freshman Kyle Novak drove in both runners giving the Dukes a 2-0 lead before Maryland even recorded an out.

From there the inning escalated further. Novak scored the Duke’s third run in the inning on a single from fellow freshman David Willis and JMU would add two more runs after that finishing the inning with five runs on five hits. A commanding lead to begin the game.

Heine would allow one more run in the second before throwing a scoreless third. He was then pulled in the third inning for sophomore Billy Phillips. James Madison continued to threaten though, loading the bases in the inning, but Phillips was able to escape in part due to a key strikeout with one out.

In the sixth inning, the Dukes scored three runs on Phillips pushing their lead to 9-0. Two of those runs came on a monster home run that cleared the scoreboard in left-center field by James Madison’s first baseman Brady Harju. Harju is now second on his team with five home runs on the season, trailing only Trevon Dabney who has six.

Dukes’ right fielder David Willis later hit a home run of his own in the top of the seventh inning, increasing the James Madison lead to 10-0. The homer came off of Maryland sophomore Mike Vasturia who threw a knuckleball that did not fool Willis whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Maryland had no answer for Dukes starter Michael Bechtold who would shut them down through four innings. Bechtold allowed no runs on just two hits with one walk and two strikeouts along the way. He was replaced by sophomore Grayson Jones to begin the fifth inning.

This was a day that it seemed nothing was going right for them and it would continue into the late innings as James Madison would score five more runs in the seventh inning taking the lead to an overwhelming 14-0.

Maryland was able to muster just three hits all day and allowed 14 runs on 13 hits themselves. Their lone run came on an RBI single from second baseman Ben Cowles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Maryland now drops to a disappointing 6-10 at home and 18-18 overall as they will look to shake this loss off heading into their upcoming road matchup with George Mason. 

The Terps will embrace this road trip as they are far better on the road this season (11-7) than they are at home. The Terps will also look to get back over the .500 mark with a win tomorrow.