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.

Rob Vaughn named eighth head coach in Maryland history

Rob Vaughn will take over as Maryland baseball’s head coach, the team announced Thursday. Vaughn, 29, has been on the Maryland coaching staff since 2012 and will replace John Szefc, who left the program June 9 to take a head coaching job at Virginia Tech. 

Rob Vaughn has been named Maryland head coach. He replaces John Szefc, who left June 9 to take the same position at Virginia Tech. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

“I’m thrilled to be able to continue what we started under coach Szefc the last couple years,” Vaughn said Thursday. “Maryland’s a special place… built around really good people and doing things the right way. That’s something that we’ve done over the last five years and something we’re going to continue to do.”

Vaughn, who was promoted to associate head coach last year, has spent most of his time in College Park as the Terps’ hitting coach. He has been instrumental in the program’s recent success, building an offensive unit that he calls “The Pack.” In The Pack, each player has a different role: run, drive in runs, or execute, or a combination of the three. This philosophy has proven successful; since Vaughn took over, the Terps have made three NCAA Tournaments, two super regionals and set a program record 42 wins in 2015.

Under his tutelage, Maryland has thrived offensively, eclipsing 300 runs in all but one year since 2013 and hitting at least 50 homers twice, in 2015 and 2017. Vaughn has helped the Terps utilize their speed on the basepaths as well. In his five years on staff, Maryland has finished second in the conference in stolen bases three times, including this season with 101 steals.

Vaughn has mentored several successful Terps’ hitters, including Brandon Lowe and Kevin Smith, two top-five round picks in the 2015 and 2017 MLB Drafts, respectively, who put up impressive numbers in their time at Maryland.

He inherits a coaching staff without pitching coach Ryan Fecteau and assistant Corey Haines, who both accompanied Szefc to Blacksburg. It is the second time in as many years that Maryland will conduct a search for a new pitching coach, but Vaughn isn’t worried, saying that he was determined to find coaches that share his vision for the program, even if it takes time to finalize the staff.

He also emphasized that he expects returning players to step into a larger role in the coming season.

“I want this to be a player-led team, not a coach-led team,” Vaughn said. “When you have guys like [Justin Morris] and [Zach Jancarski] and [AJ Lee], they know what’s expected and those are the guys that will take over.”

The Humble, Texas, native made it clear, however, that each player will have to work to earn their role on the team, and no preferential treatment will be given to veterans such as Morris, Jancarski or senior right-hander Taylor Bloom.

“This team is coming off a successful five-year stint, I don’t think anybody would argue that,” Vaughn said. “My biggest thing for [the team] to understand is the group assembled in the fall of 2017 hasn’t earned anything yet. That’s something we’ve been really good at is that there hasn’t been any complacency in this program; whether its in the classroom, whether its on the field, you get what you deserve.”

In addition to serving as the hitting coach and associate head coach, Vaughn has spearheaded Maryland’s recruiting efforts while on staff. In 2015, D1Baseball ranked the Terps’ recruiting class as the 17th best in the nation, the highest mark in program history. He has helped bring in players such as Marty Costes and Tyler Blohm, who received Freshman All-American honors in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

A native of Humble, Texas, Vaughn played four years at Kansas State, helping lead the Wildcats to their first ever NCAA Tournament berth, before being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 30th round of the MLB Draft in 2009. He spent parts of two seasons in the White Sox organization before returning to Kansas State in 2010 as an assistant coach, where he worked on a coaching staff with Szefc. Vaughn came to College Park in 2012 shortly after Szefc was hired as head coach.

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. 

Jamal Wade drafted in 17th round by Seattle Mariners

Maryland right-hander Jamal Wade was taken in the 17th round (513th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners Wednesday. Wade, a junior from Owings Mills, Maryland, is the third Terp taken in this year’s draft, and the second pitcher.

Junior Jamal Wade pitches for the Terps. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 4/4/2017

Wade came to Maryland as one of the top third base prospects in the state, and quickly transitioned to the outfield as a freshman. He quickly showed power at the plate, as his first three hits were home runs, but struggled to find consistency, striking out 29 times in 91 at bats. After a freshman season in which he hit .231 with five homers, Wade’s hitting struggles continued as a sophomore in 2016. He made just four starts and 19 appearances, hitting .111.

Over the summer, with the NECBL’s Keene Swamp Bats, Wade came in to pitch in a mop-up role and impressed. He finished the summer with 21 strikeouts in 11.1 innings, while hitting .267 in 75 at bats.

Returning to Maryland as a junior, Wade decided to focus on pitching. He made 17 appearances out of the bullpen this season with the Terps, finishing with a lofty 5.03 ERA but with 33 strikeouts. The right-hander can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, and has a devastating curveball to go along with it.

Wade is the brother of LaMonte Wade, a former Terps outfielder who was drafted in the 9th round of the 2015 Draft by the Minnesota Twins.

Prior to the draft, MBN’s Joe Malfa broke down Wade’s draft prospects.