The 2021 season was a successful one for Maryland baseball, as the team finished second in the Big Ten and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017. The Terps ended the season with a record of 30-18 and were ranked at the No. 25 spot by D1Baseball. But as the college baseball world shifts its focus to the upcoming 2021 MLB Draft and summer ball, the Terps have already undergone some changes.
The first change came when pitching coach Corey Muscara left Maryland after four seasons to take on a similar role at Wake Forest. Muscara came to College Park faced with a fairly empty cabinet of pitchers. Over the last four years, through recruiting and player development, Maryland’s pitching noticeably improved.
While Muscara was a valued member of the program, head coach Rob Vaughn and his staff wasted no time bringing aboard Mark Morrison as the new pitching coach. Morrison is coming from Coastal Carolina, the team that won the 2016 National Championship.
A number of players who were with the Terps this past season have entered the transfer portal. Pitchers Trevor LaBonte, Sam Bello, Chris Chaney, Connor Staine and Sean Fisher, as well as rising junior outfielder Tucker Flint, will be playing elsewhere next season, according to D1Baseball.
LaBonte saw a lot of action during his freshman year in 2019, but his role diminished to the point where he only pitched in one game during the 2021 season.
Bello had a brief, albeit successful, freshman year in 2020 and took the next step forward in his sophomore season. The hard-throwing right-hander notched seven saves, which was the best on the team and good enough for fourth in the Big Ten.
Staine threw 34 innings in 2021 with mixed results and may be a casualty with the Terps having a limited number of quality starting arms, especially if Ryan Ramsey is given a weekend starting role in 2022.
Flint came to College Park and saw significant playing time right away. He competed for the third outfield spot with Troy Schreffler. Chaney saw limited action and is probably looking for a more significant role somewhere else.
It was surprising to see Fisher’s name in the transfer portal. The Parsonburg, Maryland native was a fixture on the bump for the Terps the past four years, seeing time as a weekend starter and middle innings relief pitcher. Undoubtedly, the southpaw has benefitted from the NCAA’s one-year rule that allows players to transfer schools without having to sit out a season.
Volunteer assistant coach Anthony Papio was promoted to a full-time role, as an assistant coach. Starting his playing career as a preferred walk-on, Papio made the most of that opportunity to forge a fine career as a right-fielder for the Terps. Indeed, there was speculation that he might be drafted along with a program-record eight Terps in 2015, but that was not to be. Papio entered the coaching ranks not long after concluding his career in 2016. For the past four years, Papio has served as Maryland’s first base coach and helped improve the Terps’ base stealing prowess to one of the best in the Big Ten.
The 2021 MLB Draft began Sunday, July 11. After being shortened to five rounds last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s draft has been expanded to 20 rounds, still half of the traditional 40 rounds.
The Terps had two players selected: rising redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Sean Burke was chosen by the Chicago White Sox in the third round, the highest draft pick since Brandon Lowe was selected in the third round in 2015; and shortstop Benjamin Cowles, who led the Big Ten with 18 home runs in 2021, was taken in the tenth round by the New York Yankees.