Heading into the 2017 MLB Draft, we knew that three Maryland baseball players would have a realistic shot to go in the top 200. With the first 10 rounds completed, two out of those three have found prospective new homes.
Junior shortstop Kevin Smith was taken by the Blue Jays with the 129th selection. Smith was widely expected to be the first Maryland ballplayer off the board, even after his somewhat underwhelming 2017 campaign.
Two rounds later, Maryland ace Brian Shaffer was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks, which should be high enough for the junior to make the jump to pro ball.
Draft-eliglible sophomore Marty Costes still awaits when he will get taken, but after 10 rounds there is a question of whether the outfielder would even sign instead of returning for his junior season.
Here’s a look at the rest of the Terps who could be selected on day three. The names have been separated by year because there is a big difference between getting drafted as a junior or a senior during rounds 11-40, which I’ll address later in the preview.
Many of these guys will be anxiously waiting to see if they get drafted at all. A few of the team’s seniors will get taken late, but none of them are as highly sought-after as the three prospects we’ve already discussed.
RHP Mike Rescigno
Rescigno entered the season with some draft hype after his great showing over the summer, However, the right-hander was jumped over as Szefc’s closer in favor of Ryan Selmer. Still, Rescigno can pump his fastball into the mid-90s and will compliment it with a workable curveball. He has a compact and clean delivery, which allows him to project solid command at the next level, even if he struggled with that aspect of his game this past year. A poor senior season put a damper on Rescigno’s draft hype, but he has enough stuff to get him drafted in the top 25 rounds.
RHP Jared Price
Once drafted in the 33rd round out of high school, Price put together a solid senior season at 23 years old. He struck out over 10 batters per nine innings while keeping his walk rate relatively low. He won’t get as much love because of his age, but it also could mean that a team who drafts him will expect that he will move through their system rather quickly.
He can throw his fastball in the mid-90s and can use his power curveball and two other offspeed offerings to keep hitters honest. Price will probably get drafted at some point in the top 30 rounds because he has the stuff and enough command to make teams interested in taking a chance on him.
1B/3B Brandon Gum
The graduate transfer from George Mason was one of the more productive hitters for the Terps this past season; Gum also shifted to first base from being a regular at shortstop before he transferred to Maryland. Being so experienced, Gum has a seasoned plate approach and doesn’t regularly chase pitches that are out of the zone. He does a good job of waiting on his pitch and can barrel balls up to all fields, but he lacks the raw power, bat speed and athleticism in his swing to make him a noteworthy prospect. Combine the injury history and it makes it difficult to project Gum as getting drafted by the completion of round 40 on Wednesday. He was one of the more pleasant surprises for Maryland this past season, but he’s a long shot to get selected.
OF Madison Nickens
Nickens was the everyday left fielder for John Szefc this past season, but he didn’t produce offensively the way he probably wanted to entering the year. Nickens does bring some raw power to the table, but he’s not a great contact hitter and can become an all-or-nothing swinger at times. He isn’t strong enough in the field or on the basepaths to make it likely that he will be drafted.
Unlike seniors, who have no choice but to try and become professional ballplayers, juniors that are drafted have the option of returning to school, albeit with much less leverage during the draft that follows a year later.
Most of these players who have another year of college eligibility will probably be taken later on Wednesday, which means that they are all likely to return to school with the hopes of improving their draft stocks during the 2018 season. Still, these guys will have a difficult decision to make if they do hear their names called out during the 30-round frenzy.
RHP Ryan Selmer
Selmer improved his stock greatly with his performance this spring. He frequently got big outs in difficult situations, which boded well for his draft stock coming into the summer. Selmer is a tall pitcher that uses his height to help his 90-91 mph fastball play tougher than it should on the surface. He has a bit of an unorthodox delivery using a lower arm slot, which gives his stuff a bit more deception as well. He also will throw a sweeping slider that he can throw for strikes. In fact, he showed above-average control throughout his entire redshirt junior season.
Selmer won’t be a high-strikeout pitcher at the professional level. His success will rely on his control and deceptiveness creating weak contact. He has enough production, stuff and control of his arsenal to be taken the highest—probably in the top 15 rounds—outside of the trio of Smith, Shaffer and Costes.
RHP Jamal Wade
Jamal’s brother LaMonte already plays in the minor leagues for the Twins organization. However, the younger Wade brother is a much different player. He made the transfer from hitter to pitcher this season to some encouraging results. Wade has natural strength in his frame, which allows him to touch the mid-90s with his fastball. Any pitcher that can reach this velocity with little experience on the mound will interest scouts. However, Wade shows great effort in his delivery and his curveball still needs work as he continues this transition.
Wade is athletic enough to make organizations possibly think that they can refine his raw tools and make him a decent relief pitching prospect in a few years. He’ll be drafted because of this raw potential, but he may be wiser to hone his craft next season and possibly shoot up the draft boards a year from now.
OF Zach Jancarski
Jancarski was one of the Terps’ most productive hitters in 2017. He has a compact stroke that gets to the ball quickly and limits his strikeout numbers. Jancarski can stick in center field because of his plus speed and solid glove skills, and that speed is what will attract teams the most. He will certainly do damage on the base paths at any level, but his hitting profile lacks power and his compact swing may not play as well against better pitchers at the next level.
Jancarski is a player that may be drafted in the late rounds because he’s been a full-time starter for only a year and lacks outstanding tools besides his speed. He may be back next season if he’s taken late, which would certainly be welcome news for the Terps.
C Justin Morris
Morris was drafted in the 35th round by the Diamondbacks out of high school because of his defensive potential. However, while Morris was clearly the best of Maryland’s backstops on the defensive side, his offensive numbers lagged behind. Morris doesn’t produce a lot of raw power in his swing and does not play to contact because he lacks bat control and the ability to spray pitches to all fields. Some teams may like his defensive prowess and arm enough to take him in the late rounds, but Morris certainly hasn’t built on his draft stock since being selected as a high schooler in 2014.
RHP Taylor Bloom
Bloom was great as a sophomore, but took a step back as Maryland’s No. 2 starter behind Shaffer. Bloom’s stuff is not going to make scouts’ heads pop up. His fastball sits 86-88, and he throws a few decent offspeed offerings. What makes Bloom effective is his command of his pitches, but the right-hander was much more wild on the bump this season than last. He won’t strike many hitters out, and with his command falling off in 2017, teams may shy away from taking Bloom at all.
Other draft-eligible players: senior LHP Tayler Stiles, senior C/DH Nick Cieri, junior OF Will Watson, junior RHP Ryan Hill, junior 1B Kevin Biondic