The Terrapins have advanced to the Super Regional round of the 2014 NCAA baseball tournament. This has put them in the unusual position of still playing after a number of players have been drafted to play professionally: the MLB draft will take place this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Complete information about the draft can be found here. The first day's action can be seen on TV at the MLB Network 7:00PM EDT or online at mlb.com. Day one will cover the first two rounds and three partial compensatory rounds. In other words the first 74 picks. The next two days will start at 1:00PM EDT and will include rounds 3 - 10 on Friday and rounds 11 - 40 on Saturday; these can be seen online at mlb.com.
Who can be drafted
High school seniors who graduated and upperclassmen at colleges. According to NCAA rules, once a player enrolls at a school they are not available to be drafted for three years. A “year” is literal, meaning that if a player is injured and red-shirted, then they are draft-eligible after their sophomore year. Case in point: Charlie White broke his hand early on in the 2012 season and was put on red shirt status. So after his “sophomore” year concluded in 2013, he was drafted. Fortunately for the Terps, White decided to return rather than sign a contract.
Should I stay or should I go?
The only decision point for a college player is when they are juniors (I’ll include RS sophomores here). If a player is drafted after their junior year, they have a bit of bargaining power; if they get an offer they don't like they can stay in school and return for their senior season. But after their senior year there’s virtually no room left for bargaining. Here are two recent examples of Terrapin players that were drafted after their junior year and chose to go different paths, with different results.
Charlie Haslup was a RHP that saw serious action as a junior. He went 5 – 5 in relief work in 2012 with a 2.64 ERA and would probably have been a starter last season. Haslup was drafted in the 26th round by the New York Yankees and took the offer. He played two years in Class A ball’s lower echelons and did reasonably well as a relief pitcher. Apparently it wasn’t good enough for the Yankee organization and Haslup was released prior to this season.
Jimmy Reed was a LHP that didn’t start to blossom until his third year as a Terp. In 2012 he started off as the team’s closer but was eventually moved to being a weekend starter. Reed was chosen in the 21st round by the New York Yankees but chose to roll the dice and return for his senior year. Reed had an impressive 2013 as Maryland’s Friday night starter, going 6 – 4 with a 2.33 ERA. As a result he was picked in the sixth round last year by the St. Louis Cardinals. Reed starts for the Class A Peoria team and is 2 – 1 this season after going 3 – 2 last year in a “short-season” Class A baseball league.
This year’s model
In my estimation there are five current Terrapin players that could hear their name called by Saturday afternoon. I’ve listed them below alphabetically, with a short narrative for each. There will be some players coming out of high school that committed to Maryland yet have been drafted. Let's hope they elect to join the Terrapins in the Fall.
Ben Brewster, senior LHP – Until this year Brewster hadn’t thrown many innings and was not in the draft conversation. He saw increased action this year as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. Being a southpaw with a 6’3” 219 lb. frame and a fastball in the low 90’s, there's little doubt a team will select him in the later rounds.
Bobby Ruse, junior RHP – Ruse has pitched well in a number of situations this year and got good exposure in the NCAAT. If he's drafted it will probably be in the later rounds, but I believe he will choose to come back for his senior year at Maryland.
Blake Schmit, senior SS – Schmit played two years for the Terps after transferring from Des Moines Area Community College. He batted .277 last season but was not drafted. This year his average is up to .313 and he has stolen 16 bases. Schmit is arguably the best fielding shortstop in the ACC. The attention paid to Jake Stinnett (see below) by scouts could only have increased Schmit’s national exposure. He should be drafted in approximately the same place as the player he replaced, Alfredo Rodriguez: somewhere in rounds 15 – 20.
Jake Stinnett, senior RHP – Stinnett was drafted in the 29th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates last year but decided to try to up his draft status by returning for his senior year. It turned out to be a sage decision as he was the team’s ace and a second-team All-ACC. Stinnett is projected by the pundits to be a late first round or early second round pick. A fantastic article on Stinnett's draft prospects can be found at PerfectGame.
Charlie White, RS junior CF – White tore up the opposition last year on his way to a .350 BA and 39 stolen bases. As a result he was drafted in the 29th round by the New York Yankees. He turned down the offer and returned to play for the Terps in 2014. Since his numbers were a bit down in 2014, my hunch is that White will return for his senior year, regardless of where he’s drafted this week.