As Maryland closes in on its 2014 season opener at No. 23 Florida on Friday, Feb. 14, we'll preview this year's squad in three installments over the coming week. Outfielders highlight the final preview.
Entering the 2013 season, the Terps had a core of experienced, veteran outfielders returning in Jordan Hagel, Michael Montville and Charlie White. The trio was expected to be listed in the lineup on an every game basis. But injuries to Hagel and Montville forced to the Terps to start six different players in left field and three different players in right.
Fast forward to 2014 and the shuffling in the outfield resulted in the emergence of Andrew Amaro and Anthony Papio, along with the development of Kyle Convissar in left field. Paired with returnees Montville and White, the Terps may have a stronger group of outfielders than they did a season ago.
As in 2013, White will be the catalyst. Maryland’s leadoff hitter led the team with a .350 batting average last season, the ninth-best mark in the ACC, and stole a single-season school record 39 bases, which tied for fourth nationally.
An All-ACC selection last season, White was drafted in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, but decided to return to College Park for at least one more season. The Naperville, Ill., native enters the season one stolen base shy of tying the program record for stolen bases with 62.
After Montville went down with an injury sustained during the Virginia series, Papio emerged as the preferred option in left field a year ago. Papio started 24 games in left and 14 games in right. The sophomore from Olney, Md., had the fourth-best slugging percentage on the team (.385) and drove in 21 runs in 2013. Papio’s three triples and three home runs ranked first and second on the club, respectively.
However, with the departure of Hagel, Papio is expected to slide over to right along with Montville, who is continuing to recover from last season’s injury. The move will allow Amaro and Convissar to compete for time in left. Amaro, who was named the team’s most improved positional player coming out of the fall, made 35 appearances last season and posted a .296 batting average and a .415 on-base percentage.
Convissar played mostly at second base last season making 35 starts at the position, but also made five starts in left. Possessing one of the best bats on the club, Convissar ranked 17th in the ACC in batting average (.325) and finished second on the team in RBI (37), slugging (.427) and on-base percentage (.427).
In terms of depth, junior-college transfer Tim Lewis will spell White. Lewis was a two-time all-conference performer at Allen County Community College. In the corners, freshman Bradley Keith will compete for playing time.
With White back at center and the emergence of Papio last season and Amaro this past fall, the Terrapin outfield appears to be in solid hands moving into the 2014 season.