Junior right-hander Brian Shaffer was selected Tuesday in the sixth round of the MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. As the 172nd overall pick, he was the second Terrapin selected in the 2017 draft, two rounds behind shortstop Kevin Smith.
Shaffer’s college career likely ends with a 20-8 record, 273 innings pitched and 236 strikeouts. The 6’5 Shaffer was a daunting presence to opposing hitters. His fastball sat in the low 90’s during his junior season, staying at that speed deep into games. This was coupled with a strong slider and emerging change-up. Shaffer’s calling card will be his pinpoint control, and the Diamondbacks thought enough of him to draft him early.
Shaffer came to the Terps from North Harford High School in Pylesville, Maryland. He was a starter in his freshman year, ending up 5-1 with a 4.67 ERA. During the latter part of the year, he cemented himself as a weekend starter. Perhaps his most impressive start was the second game of the Big Ten Tournament, where he gave up one earned run over seven innings in a 2-1 Terrapin win over Illinois, snapping the Illini’s 27-game winning streak. He started a game in the Los Angeles regional, but came out after two innings with elbow soreness. That injury was concerning; although Shaffer did not have to undergo surgery, there were still major questions about his arm’s durability..
Shaffer answered all of the doubters and then some with a stellar sophomore season. He was a weekend starter throughout the season, leading the team with eight wins and 103.3 innings pitched and finishing second in ERA (2.60). He proved durable throughout, and bested 2018 draft prospect Colton Eastman 1-0 at Cal State Fullerton. Given the number of innings he pitched during the regular season, Shaffer was then shut down until fall ball.
Shaffer was the team’s Friday starter in 2017. He led Maryland with a 2.66 ERA and a lofty 108.1 innings pitched, in which he struck out 109 and walked just 18. In Big Ten play, Shaffer had a 1.76 ERA and led the conference in wins and innings pitched. Those stats are even more impressive when you consider that his start against Indiana was terminated after two innings due to a thunderstorm postponement. His efforts garnered him the 2017 Pitcher of the Year award in the Big Ten. Nationally, Shaffer was selected as a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist. With the exception of two rough starts in the postseason, Shaffer’s work in 2017 was as consistent as it comes.