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. The pitchers and catchers highlight today's preview.
The Maryland pitching staff entered the 2013 season with few known quantities as the group consisted of six true freshmen and returned only two pitchers with starting experience. Fast forward one year and the script has flipped for the Terrapin pitching staff despite the loss of Friday night starter Jimmy Reed, who was selected in the sixth round of this past summer’s MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
With 12 pitchers returning from last season, Maryland brings back 81 percent of its innings pitched from 2013 (396 of 490.2 innings) and 79 percent of its strikeouts (290 of 367 Ks). The Terps and head coach John Szefc will lean on that experience which will give the coaching staff plenty of options.
In addition to the plethora of returning arms, the Terps added five freshmen in their 2013 recruiting class with righties Chase Brewis, Andrew Green, Ryan Selmer and Mike Shawaryn, and lefty Tayler Stiles. Maryland also gains the services of Zach Morris, who served a redshirt season in 2013 after transferring from Cincinnati.
For the weekend, senior Jake Stinnett appears to have the Friday night spot nailed down with several arms in the mix for the final two spots including Jake Drossner, Jared Price, Alex Robinson and Shawaryn. Price served primarily as the team’s setup man last season and Robinson made 13 starts, the most of any returning pitcher.
In relief, Kevin Mooney enters the season as the presumed closer after locking down nine games a season ago. If Price moves to the weekend rotation, look for Ben Brewster and Stiles to appear in vital late inning roles to get the club to Mooney in the ninth.
Szefc and the coaching staff will have plenty of options in the middle innings with proven hurlers at their disposal. Jake Drossner made six starts and 13 appearances a year ago, while Brandon Casas made 21 relief appearances. Robert Galligan, Jamie Pashuck and Bobby Ruse are veteran arms. The trio combined for 40 appearances last season.
With the departure of Reed, the Terps will more than likely turn to Stinnett to take the ball on Friday nights, but the battle for the final two weekend rotation spots is up for grabs.
After beginning the season as the Terps’ closer, Stinnett moved into the weekend rotation against Florida State before making two midweek starts and becoming a permanent fixture in the weekend rotation against Miami. The Academic All-ACC selection went on to post a 6-5 record with a 2.83 ERA, which ranked 13th in the ACC. In 63-2/3 innings, Stinnett totaled 48 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .204 batting average, which tied for the fourth-lowest average in the conference.
Stinnett, who was selected in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, excelled down the stretch last season. Stinnett posted quality starts in six of his final seven outings including a complete game, five-hit performance at Duke. In three of his final six starts, Stinnett did not allow an earned run and posted at least six strikeouts in four of his last seven appearances.
Behind Stinnett, the Terps have some options. Price and Shawaryn have impressed in the fall and in preseason practice, but Drossner and Robinson provide starting experience.
Shawaryn, a 6-foot-4 righty from Carneys Point, N.J., was a first team Louisville Slugger All-American coming out of Gloucester Catholic and was drafted by the 32nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Shawaryn went 8-2 with a 0.63 ERA as a senior and tossed three no hitters to help lead the Rams to their fourth consecutive New Jersey Non-Public A state title.
Serving as the primary setup man for Mooney last season, Price made 23 appearances for the Terps, the second most on the squad. The Mohnton, Pa., native went 2-2 and posted a 5.92 ERA over 24-1/3 innings. In his final seven appearances of 2013, Price did not surrender a run.
Robinson made 13 starts a season ago rotating between weekend and midweek starts. The sophomore from Hewlett, N.Y., averaged 7.26 strikeouts per nine innings and finished the season with a 4.89 ERA. Drossner made 13 appearances and totaled six starts, all coming in midweek action. The sophomore went 2-0 with 23 strikeouts in 36-2/3 innings pitched.
After seizing the closer’s role midway through last season, Mooney begins 2014 looking to build upon an impressive freshman campaign that saw him total nine saves, the most ever by a Terrapin freshman and a total that tied for fourth in the ACC. The Forest Hill, Md., native’s save total was the second-highest single-season total in program history.
Mooney made a team-high 28 appearances last season and posted a 2.18 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 41-1/3 innings of work.
Brewster and Stiles appear to have the inside track to setting the stage for Mooney. Brewster made nine appearances last season and surrendered one earned run to finish with a 1.42 ERA. Brewster’s unorthodox delivery is a challenge for opposing batters.
Stiles, a 6-foot-2 lefthander from Bowie, Md., was the 2013 WCAC Player of the Year for McNamara and a first team Washington Post All-Met selection. Stiles posted 119 strikeouts as a senior and finished with an 8-2 record and a 0.61 ERA.
Martir is the presumed starter entering the season. In 2013, Martir made 50 appearances with 17 starts at catcher and 18 starts as the designated hitter. Martir posted the fourth-best batting average on the team (.279) and scored 25 runs and drove in 30. He also recorded 12 multi-hit games.
Cieri, a native of Hainesport, N.J., was a Rawlings First Team Northeast All-Region selection as a senior and was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 32nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft.