Preseason Countdown No. 1: Opening Weekend Preview

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Previewing the Terrapins

The 2020 season is finally here and the Terrapins are ready to get things underway this weekend in South Carolina.

After finishing last year with an even record of 29-29, Maryland is looking to get back to its winning ways and reach the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2018. The team closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins, going on to play three games in the conference tournament, winning one against Illinois.

The new-look Terrapins have 13 freshmen entering the clubhouse, along with two transfers. Maryland’s Class of ’23 ranks as the highest in team history, setting up shop at No. 7 according to D1Baseball.com.

Alongside the young players are five returning starters from last season to round out the Terrapins’ defense. The outfield will again consist of Chris Alleyne in center and newly No. 3 Randy Bednar in right. Sophomore Ben Cowles is making the move to shortstop to replace A.J. Lee, and will be joined by first baseman Maxwell Costes and catcher Justin Vought, one of the team’s 2020 captains.

“We have a very young team this year,” Costes said. “Having a presence like Randy [Bednar] or [Justin] Vought or [Sean] Fisher really brings something kind of invaluable.”

Coach Vaughn talked about rounding out the team’s defense, and how some of the new guys can jump in and contribute right away. The depth on the team is unlike what Vaughn had last season, with a lineup that can “stretch to 12 or 13 deep.” The weekend’s lineups will likely be based on pitching matchups and will include multiple pinch-hitters.

“It’s gonna come down to how we play, that’s the only thing we can control,” Vaughn said. “Everyone’s gonna be super amped up…it’s all about getting some of those nerves kicked off and go play a good brand of baseball.”

On the mound for Maryland will also feature some new faces. After the loss of ace Hunter Parsons, the team’s Friday starter in his senior campaign, Vaughn named 2019 bullpen arm Sean Fisher to toss the Terrapins’ first game of the year.

“We have a lot of youth on the pitching staff, a lot of inexperience,” Vaughn said. “We wanted to put the ball in the hands of our toughest dude.”

“I was pretty excited to [get the start],” Fisher said. “I feel like I put in a lot to earn that, but I’m just really looking forward to going out there and competing with my guys.”

The rest of the weekend will involve a bullpen-heavy performance as Vaughn looks to work guys in to start the season with a deep roster. Freshman Nick Dean will get the start on Saturday, followed by redshirt freshman Sean Burke on Sunday.

The Weekend Slate

Though the Terps are familiar with facing three separate teams during opening weekend, it’s often in the form of a tournament. This season, though not explicitly a tournament, Maryland starts with a Friday game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, before facing Iona on Saturday and the College of Charleston on Sunday.


Friday – Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Last season

With a record of 23-36 in 2019, the Buccaneers continued to slide in the wrong direction. The team last finished with a record above .500 in 2014, and have compiled a 7-24 record against Power Five conference schools in that span.

This season

Charleston Southern has just two of its top five hitters returning for the 2020 season, including the loss of sophomore outfielder Max Ryerson who posted .322 average with 43 RBI in his freshman campaign. Ryerson transferred in the off-season. The team ranked seventh in the Big South Preseason Poll to start the season.

Hitters to watch

Aside from Ryerson, the Buccaneers also have their power-bat back in the lineup for this season. Senior first baseman Ryan Stoudemire hit 14 long balls last season for a team high. He also led the Buccaneers in doubles, slugging and was second in average behind Ryerson.

Pitchers to watch

One of Charleston Southern’s most impressive arms is sophomore R.J. Petit. The righty ended his stellar freshman season with All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball and was named First Team All-Big South. Petit was named as the Preseason Big South Pitcher of the Year prior to the 2020 season.

The most experienced arm out of the bullpen for the Buccaneers is senior Seth Owens. In 31 appearances, he posted a 4.06 ERA and 41 strikeouts.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Friday, 6 p.m. ET

Sr. LHP Jaret Bennett vs. Jr. LHP Sean Fisher

image.pngimage  vs. imageFisher090518_06

One of two weekend starters returning for the Buccaneers, Bennett finished last season with the second-most innings pitched on the team (71 1/3), including a complete game shutout over USC Upstate. With a 5.30 ERA over 14 starts, including 44 strikeouts last year, the southpaw is looking to continue his success in his senior campaign.

For the Terps, Fisher maintained a bullpen role last season, finishing the year with a 6.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances over 30 innings. Over the summer on Cape Cod, Fisher took on more of a starters role, a spot Vaughn decided to try the southpaw in to start Maryland’s 2020 campaign.


Saturday – Iona Gaels

Last season

The team finished with 14 wins in 2019, a low since 2016. The Gaels haven’t earned a winning record in the 21st century, with four of their last 19 seasons ending with single-digit win totals.

This season

The Gaels are projected to finish 10th in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this season after last year’s disappointing end. The team has an abundance of returning arms that can hopefully help in the long-run of the season.

Hitters to watch

Junior catcher Sam Punzi was the team’s best hitter from a season ago, leading the Gaels in average, home runs and RBI, and will be returning for his third season with the team.  Sophomore infielder Jake Field led the Gaels in at-bats in his first year, and will look to improve on his .214 average from a season ago.

Pitchers to watch 

Most of the big arms are returning for the Gaels this season, including senior righty Stephen Hansen, who tossed with a 3.23 ERA last year. Other heavy throwers coming back are senior southpaw Chris Dodrill and sophomore right-hander Hunter Sibley. Out of the bullpen is righty Antonio Velardi, who had a sub-three ERA with six saves in 2019.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. ET

Sr. LHP Mario Ferraioli vs. Fr. RHP Nick Dean

imageimage.png  vs. image Dean_2020

Ferraioli missed his junior season with the Gaels due to injury; as a sophomore in 2018, however, the southpaw made five starts over 15 total appearances, earning MAAC Pitcher of the Week once and finishing with a team-best 1.29 ERAA over 42 innings.

One of the Terps’ young arms, Dean missed his senior season of high school recovering from injury, but led the team to a district championship his junior season with 60 strikeouts and a 1.16 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.


Sunday – Charleston Cougars

Last season

The Cougars went 4-1 against ranked opponents in 2019 and finished 15 games over .500. Charleston’s year earned the team a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference tournament, where the Cougars dropped both games.

This season

After losing a core chunk of their roster last spring, the Cougars will have trouble finding their third consecutive 35+ win season. Baseball America still projects them to finish in third place in the CAA standings.

Hitters to watch

Three players hit for a plus-.300 average last year, none of which are returning for the start of the 2020 season. Senior outfielder Chris Graham finished his junior campaign with a .291 average and 15 RBI in 47 games played, the most for returning players on Charleston’s roster.

Pitchers to watch 

Charleston lost its go-to closer, Nathan Ocker, and strong righty Griffin McLarty after last season, who both threw a good amount of innings for the Cougars last season. Key returners include senior Tradd James, who had a 2.77 ERA in 2019, and junior lefty Zach Williams.

Probably Starting Pitching Matchup

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Fr. RHP C.J. Czerwinski vs. R-Fr. RHP Sean Burke

image.pngimage   vs.   imageBurke_2020

Like the Terps, the Cougars have injected some youth into their starting rotation heading into the first weekend of the season. Czerwinski comes to Charleston out of Pennsylvania, where he was named his county’s Player and Pitcher of the Year as a senior, after he went 3-3 with 77 strikeouts and a 0.79 ERA in 53 innings.

Burke, who was recovering from injury during the Terps’ 2019 season, has what Vaughn calls “electric stuff” on the mound. As a senior in high school the righty went 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA. The hope is that Burke will bring the same power to the mound for Maryland as he did two years ago.

Preseason Countdown No. 3: Top 5 Series for 2020

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As they have the past few years, Maryland baseball faces national blue-blood programs on the road early in the season and will have to get past some of the Big Ten’s elite in order to reach the conference tournament.

Here are the Terps’ top five series of the 2020 season. 


@ Coastal Carolina, February 28-March 1

After opening the season in South Carolina on February 14, the Terps head back to the Palmetto State at the end of the month to face off with the Chanticleers. It’s the third straight year Maryland will face Coastal, losing 7-2 in one game last year, and beating the Chants 7-6 in 2018.

Coastal’s offense, which finished last season fifth in the country with 525 runs,  will be led by outfielder Parker Chavers. Baseball America named the junior a second-team preseason All-American coming off last season, when he batted .316 with 15 home runs.

Control will be key for the Terps’ pitching staff, as Coastal finished 11th in the nation last season with 350 walks, drawing eight in their matchup with Maryland. Coastal can also make free bases hurt, as they stole 79 bases on 93 attempts in 2019 (opponents were 78-95 against the Terps last season). The Chanticleers serve as a useful early-season measuring stick, as the first of five NCAA tournament teams the Terps will face this year. 

@ TCU, March 13-15

The Terps play five straight home games after their trip to Conway, South Carolina, before they head to Fort Worth, Texas to take on the new-look Horned Frogs. Coming off an NCAA tournament berth, the Horned Frogs lost their ace, Nick Lodolo, and their top three hitters to the MLB draft last year.

Despite the roster turnover TCU has plenty of talent, with top-15 recruiting classes in three of the last four seasons. Pitcher Charles King will be looking to step into the ace role left behind by Lodolo, coming off a junior season where he had a 3.36 ERA in 21 appearances, including eight starts. The Horned Frogs’ bullpen should be anchored by junior Augie Mihlbauer, who led the team with a 2.35 ERA in 28 relief appearances last season.

On offense, TCU returns only four players who appeared in more than 40 games, though those four players include reigning RBI leader, infielder Austin Henry, who hit .288 with 43 RBI and started all 62 games last season. Like the Terps, TCU will lean heavily on a young, yet talented roster, with impending learning curves making it difficult to project where the two teams will be when they meet.

@ Iowa, April 17-19

Entering the last series of 2019, Maryland needed to sweep Iowa to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. The Terps secured that sweep, battering the Hawkeyes’ pitching staff to the tune of 26 runs in three games in College Park.

This year Iowa’s pitching staff, led by senior Grant Judkins, will look to quiet Maryland’s offense in Iowa City. Judkins was the team’s most reliable starter last season, with a 2.72 ERA in 15 starts, punching out 65 hitters while allowing just 70 hits in 82 2/3 innings.

The pitching staff will also be bolstered by the return of redshirt sophomore Jack Dreyer, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. When healthy, Dreyer looked sharp, striking out 11 and allowing just 2 runs in 7 1/3 innings over two starts.

The Iowa offense maintains most of its biggest weapons, with the team’s three batting leaders, Izaya Fullard, Zeb Adreon, and Austin Martin, all returning. Outfielder Ben Norman, the only player to start all 55 of Iowa’s games, also returns, coming off a season where he led the team with 12 doubles and 34 RBI along with six home runs, the second-most on the team.

Picked by Baseball America to finish fifth and sixth respectively in the Big Ten, both Iowa and Maryland should be looking to this series as a key time to pick up quality conference wins. 

@ Ohio State, May 8-10

This season the Terps drew a favorable conference schedule, avoiding the defending regular-season champion Indiana and national runner-up Michigan. Maryland will, however, have to face the defending Big Ten Tournament champs when they travel to Columbus.

The Buckeyes lost their tournament hero and closer Andrew Magno to the draft, but did retain their entire weekend rotation of Seth Lonsway, Garrett Burhenn and Griffan Smith. Lonsway was the Buckeyes’ most dominant pitcher the Buckeyes, punching out 126 batters in 92 1/3 innings and recording a 3.70 ERA.

On offense, the two biggest losses for the Buckeyes were Dominic Canzone and Brady Cherry, who had 16 homers apiece last year. The lineup still returns three 30-RBI players in Conner Pohl, Brent Todys and Zach Dezenzo, but the thump-and-fear factor provided by Canzone and Cherry will be difficult to replace.

Ohio State is also perhaps the most vulnerable of the Big Ten’s elite. While they found their stride in the postseason, the Buckeyes also were swept at home by Northwestern (by a combined score of 30-11), and went only 12-12 in conference play. 

vs. Minnesota, May 14-16

For the second year in a row, the Terps finish the regular season at home, this time with a three-game set against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota finished tied for third in the Big Ten last season, with a 15-9 conference record, and took two-of-three from Maryland in Minneapolis last year.

While the Gophers look to be near the top of the Big Ten again, they have a lineup that can be pitched around; the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, infielder Jordan Kozicky, had 11 home runs and 49 RBI last season but hit only .237 and struck out 62 times. Kozicky was the only player with more than 30 RBI and no qualified player hit over .300.

On the mound Minnesota will be led by ace Max Meyer. The now-junior led all Big Ten starters with a 2.11 ERA, had an 87-20 K/BB ratio and held opponents to a .202 batting average in 76 2/3 innings last season. Junior Joshua Culliver also figures to be a key part of the Minnesota pitching staff. Culliver led the team with 13 starts last season, and his ability to bring his ERA down from last season’s mark of 4.64 will be a key factor in Minnesota’s success.

After last year’s dramatic end to the season, the Terps know their series against the Golden Gophers could be the key to their postseason hopes and the deciding fate in their season. 

Preseason Countdown No. 4: Outfield preview

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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.

Preseason Countdown No. 5: Infield Preview

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The Terrapins’ first line of defense will have some major changes this season, as head coach Rob Vaughn is tasked with filling holes left behind from the departure of shortstop A.J. Lee and third baseman Taylor Wright. Vaughn has been tweaking various formations all offseason in order to make the most seamless transition into 2020.

We’ve given you previews of potential starting pitchers and bullpen arms, next up is a preview of the infielders on the Terps’ roster.


Junior catcher Justin Vought Vought090518_01

In his first year as the team’s everyday catcher, Vought started 53 games behind the plate. He put up an average of .222 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. The Pennsylvania native slashed two hits in the team’s first game of the Big Ten Tournament against Illinois, one of which flew over the outfield wall for a two-run homer.

The then-sophomore was named as a team captain prior to the 2019 season and will continue to provide the Terps with leadership this spring.


Redshirt-junior catcher Tavan Shahidi Shahidi090518_05

Shahidi transferred to Maryland following the 2018 season, where he played for Iowa Lakes Community College.

There, he finished with a line of .336/.445/.611 with 10 home runs and 11 doubles. The catcher redshirted last season due to an injury and the necessary surgery.


Freshman catcher James Heffley Heffley_2020

The Maryland native is part of a stacked freshman class entering College Park this season. As a senior at Albert Einstein High School, Heffley ended with an average over .500 and was named First Team All-Division for the third consecutive year. In his first appearance at Maryland, he put down a sacrifice squeeze bunt to bring in a run during the Fall World Series.


Redshirt-sophomore first baseman Michael Pineiro Piniero090518_03

Pineiro was coach Vaughn’s Swiss army knife in his first season playing for the Terrapins. In 44 appearances and 38 starts, the redshirt-sophomore stretched from left field to right field, designated hitter and first base. He finished with a .252 batting average, earning him a spot on the All-Big Ten Third Team.

Pineiro exploded over the summer, batting .333 in 36 games with the West Virginia Miners of the Prospect League.


Freshman first baseman Michael Bouma Bouma_2020

Bouma is one of Maryland’s highest prospects this season as he finished high school as the No. 1 first baseman in Maryland. He ended with a career average of .433 and 11 home runs at Sherwood High School.

During the Fall World Series, Bouma got a good workload with five at-bats, one of which he earned a single. He played both first and third base during Maryland’s fall scrimmage against Army.


Junior second baseman Tommy Gardiner Gardiner090518_03

Gardiner’s playing time took a hit in his sophomore campaign as he got into the starting lineup 20 times in 2019, with 11 fewer appearances than his freshman season, partially due to a shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of the season.

During his time on the field, the New Jersey native notched a six-game hitting streak and could see his time in the lineup spike with the loss of senior A.J. Lee after the 2019 season, leaving a middle infield spot wide open for the taking.


Sophomore second baseman Josh Maguire Maguire082818_03

Maguire broke into the lineup in the latter part of his freshman campaign, finishing the season with nine straight starts as a designated hitter. In 29 total appearances, Maguire had five doubles, two triples and three homers. After solidifying his role as an offensive threat to end his first season on Vaughn’s roster, the Delaware native could be a key component to the Terps’ roster this season.


Sophomore shortstop Ben Cowles Cowles090518_05

Perhaps one of the most important pieces to Maryland’s lineup this season will be second-year infielder Ben Cowles. A compliment to senior shortstop A.J. Lee last year as the team’s everyday second baseman, Cowles will now likely fill the hole that Lee left as the infield’s new leader. In 50 starts last year, Cowles found hit in five different parts of the lineup, earning 35 hits and 15 RBI in those appearances.

“He’s got a relentless work ethic,” outfielder Randy Bednar said at media day. “If there’s one guy who resembles Maryland baseball, it’s Ben Cowles.”


Junior shortstop Austin Chavis Chavis_2020

Chavis spent two years at Potomac State before transferring to Maryland this season. In his second year at the West Virginia JuCo, Chavis earned a batting average over .330 with 18 doubles, which ranks ninth in Potomac State history. Prior to college the infielder played at Calvert Hall, where he was named a preseason Under Armor All-American.


Sophomore third baseman Maxwell Costes Costes090518_03

The most talked-about returning Terp this season, Costes enters his sophomore campaign after a dominant freshman season, during which he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times as well as the Big Ten Player of the Week once. Costes also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

This season, Costes has already found his name on another ballot as he was named one of Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason third team Diamond Sports All-Americans. Maryland’s power-hitter led Big Ten freshman in home runs last season, after he knocked 15 balls out of the park. Costes also dominated in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, where he led the Amsterdam Mohawks to a league championship and was later awarded the PGCBL Player of the Year, along with a spot on the team’s All-Decade Team.


Junior infielder Brenton Davis Davis_2020

Davis joins Maryland as the team’s second transfer this offseason. Out of Southeast Community College in his home state of Nebraska, Davis earned an average of .353 in his first of two seasons with the team. During his time at Southeast, Davis split time between third base, shortstop and second base, making him a viable option all over the diamond for the Terrapins.


Freshman infielder Matt Orlando Orlando_2020

Orlando, the fifth-ranked player out of New Jersey, is another one of Vaughn’s keys to add more depth to a busy infield. The freshman was a three-time All-South Jersey honoree, along with First-Team All-State his sophomore year and Third-Team All-State in his final senior season.

His first contribution in a Maryland uniform came in the Fall World Series when he hit a base clearing three-run double.


Freshman infielder Aaron Perez Perez_2020

The Bronx, New York, native played finished his senior season at All Hallows with an average of .280. He came out of high school as the No. 3 ranked shortstop in New York and landed on the Perfect Game All-Tournament Team three times.

 

 

Preseason Countdown No. 6: Bullpen Preview

25 MORE DAYS-6

With less than a week until Maryland’s first game of the 2020 season, players’ roles for the season are starting to materialize and head coach Rob Vaughn finalizes his roster and takes inventory of the Terps’ squad.

We’ve already given you the starting pitchers preview; now, we head out to the bullpen with an overview of Maryland’s relievers.


Senior RHP Elliot Zoellner Zoellner090518_01

Consistently one of the Terps’ stronger relievers, this season is about determining where Zoellner best fits out of the bullpen. Last season the right-hander often made late-inning appearances ahead of then-closer John Murphy. With Murphy gone this season, Zoellner has a chance to step into that closer position.

Zoellner made 18 appearances out of the bullpen in 2019 for a 7.40 ERA over 20 2/3 innings, plus 31 strikeouts. The right-hander also held opponents to a .156 batting average when he took the mound. For Zoellner to succeed this season he must stay healthy; a bought with pneumonia and a hurt thumb sidelined the righty for part of last season.


Junior RHP Mark DiLuia mark diluia

As a freshman it seemed DiLuia had a shot at being a starter, but in 2019 he became one of the Terps’ most-consistent bullpen arms. DiLuia made 24 relief appearances and one start last season, tossing a 5.45 ERA in 38 innings with 38 strikeouts. This came

After getting surgery this fall to remove some bone spurs in his elbow, DiLuia is one of the relievers Vaughn has been most excited to see throwing heading into the regular season. According to Vaughn, when the game matters DiLuia is someone whose hands Vaughn wants the ball in.


Junior LHP Sean FisherFisher090518_06

While Vaughn is eyeing Fisher for a starting role this season, Fisher’s experience out of the bullpen could prove vital as the season progresses and pitchers’ roles become cemented. Last season Fisher tossed a 6.90 ERA in 25 relief appearances, including 20 strikeouts over 30 innings.

Fisher enters the 2020 season coming off a hot summer in Cape Cod, where he tossed a 2.84 ERA over 25 1/3 innings for the Brewster Whitecaps.


Redshirt-Junior RHP Mike Vasturia Vasturia090518_01

Heading into his third season on the mound for the Terps, Vaughn is likely to deploy Vasturia in a middle-inning relief situation, though anything is possible.

Last season Vasturia made eight relief appearances for Maryland, compiling six strikeouts in six innings pitched.


Redshirt-Junior LHP Billy Phillips Phillips090518_05

This year, in his third season on the mound for the Terps since beating leukemia, Phillips will likely have a role similar to that of Vasturia.

In eight relief appearances over eight innings last season, Phillips recorded 10 strikeouts and walked only four batters.


Sophomore RHP Sean Heine Heine082818_01

Heine impressed Vaughn during fall ball, and is likely to have a consistent role out of the bullpen during his second season with Maryland.

In his first season with the Terps, Heine tossed 17 1/3 innings for a 10.38 ERA. While that number isn’t spectacular, Heine has shown some improvement on the mound and has the potential to become a middle-innings reliever for the Terps heading into 2020.


Sophomore RHP Daniel O’Connor OConnor090518_04

This season, it’s likely that O’Connor returns to his role as a middle-inning reliever, helping to provide some needed depth to the Terps’ bullpen.

As a freshman last season, O’Connor made 12 relief appearances for an 8.79 ERA in 14 1/3 innings, including 10 strikeouts.


Sophomore RHP Ryan Buck Buck_2020

Maryland fans may remember Buck from the Terps’ fall ball roster in 2018, when the then-freshman was listed as an outfielder. Buck is back again this season, but at his natural position on the mound instead.

Buck recording a 14-9 record in his senior season at Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania, and was named first team All-Central Athletic Conference in his final two years at Conestoga.


“The Freshmen”

Falco_2020Likely to be one of Vaughn’s go-to’s out of the bullpen, 6’4″ New York native Dave Falco comes with a powerful arm. A right-hander, Falco hit 95 and 98 mph during the fall and has potential to become an extended-inning closer, according to Vaughn.Chaney_2020

West Virginia native Chris Chaney is also likely to make some bullpen appearances for Vaughn; in high school the right-hander tossed a 6-2 record in his senior campaign, including 48 strikeouts.Staine_2020

The third freshman to wrap up the possible bullpen arms this season is righty Connor Staine, a New Jersey native. Staine was named First Team All-NJACC and 2018-29 MVP as a senior, after he finished his high school career with a compiled 19-6 record and 1.70 ERA.

Preseason Countdown No. 7: Starting pitchers preview

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Heading into the 2020 season, head coach Rob Vaughn will have plenty of options as he tries to mold his starting rotation, but it won’t be an easy decision. After losing ace Hunter Parsons to the 2019 MLB Draft, the pitching staff will attempt to find its next anchor with much of its bulk returning.

With names like Zach Thompson, Trevor LaBonte, Sean Fisher, Drew Wilden and Tyler Blohm headlining the returning starters, the staff will also include some new faces with freshmen Sean Burke, Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey, and Sam Bello.

Here’s a look into how each starting pitcher is expected to be utilized in the 2020 season:


Senior LHP Tyler Blohm Blohm090518_01

Blohm has seen his number of starts dimish over his college career, morphing more into a bullpen arm and midweek although he remains in the mix for a rotation spot as he heads into his final year at Maryland.

He started six times last year, finishing with a 1-2 record and a 5.74 ERA over 15 2/3 innings pitched. While Blohm spent part of 2019 recovering from an injury, the hope is that he can return to what he was prior to last year.


Redshirt-Junior RHP Zach Thompson Thompson082818_02

Thompson spent all of his 2019 season in the weekend rotation, manning the No. 2 spot in the staff. He finished the year with a 5.08 ERA but had shown plenty of glimpses of why he may end up starting on weekends for another season.

In four straight starts in March, Thompson compiled a 2.59 ERA including one eight-inning start versus Eastern Carolina.


Junior LHP Sean Fisher Fisher090518_06

The returning junior pitched most of 2019 out of the bullpen, but heading into 2020 Vaughn is eyeing Fisher for a potential rotation spot.

Fisher spent his summer pitching in the Cape Cod Summer League for the Brewster Whitecaps, and he dominated with a 3-0 record while compiling a 2.84 ERA over 25 1/3 innings pitched.


Redshirt-Sophomore LHP Drew Wilden Wilden090518_01

Wilden had 11 appearances last season, including five starts, and put up a 5.82 ERA in 17 innings pitched.

Although his role could be more heavily-based in the bullpen this season, he could see some early midweek starts as Vaughn works to solidify his starting rotation.


Sophomore RHP Trevor LaBonte Labonte082818_02

LaBonte served as the backend of the Terps’ weekend rotation for the majority of last season, after an initial bullpen role.

Although he finished the season with a 5.98 ERA, he displayed bright spots, including an eight-strikeout, one-run performance versus a powerful Creighton offense, over the course of the season.


Redshirt-Freshman RHP Sean Burke Burke_2020

After being injured for all of 2019, the 6″6′ redshirt freshman will definitely be in the mix for the starting rotation, according to Vaughn.

Vaughn described Burke as having “electric stuff,” and it’s expected that the same pitcher who went 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA in his senior year of high school will be ready to provide a major impact to the Terps’ rotation.


Freshman RHP Nick Dean Dean_2020

Before missing time during his senior year at high school recovering from an injury, Dean had helped his high school win a district championship in his junior year with a 1.16 ERA with 60 strikeouts over 48 1/3 innings pitched.

Dean is “in the mix” for a starting spot this season, according to Vaughn, who has praised the freshman’s talented arm.


Freshman LHP Ryan Ramsey Ramsey_2020

The lefty freshman was named 2019 New Jersey Pitcher of the Year and was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 36th round of the MLB Draft, but opted to instead play at Maryland.

Bello led his high-school team with a 19-2 record and a 255/30 strikeout-to-walk ratio; he was named All-state twice during his junior and senior years. Ramsey is also ranked fourth among all New Jersey left-handed pitching prospects, according to Perfect Game.


Freshman RHP Sam Bello Bello_2020

Vaughn described Bello as a tough kid, “cut from the same cloth as [Sean Fisher],” during his media presser on February 29. Bello definitely earned that description after picking up several accolades during his high school career, including 2019 Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Player of the Year.

According to Perfect Game, Bello is the fourth-best right-handed pitcher out of New York and the tenth-best overall in the state.