This week, Maryland baseball announced that eight members of last year’s team will not return in the fall: third baseman KJ Hockaday; outfielders Greg Olenski, Matt Bosse and Kyle Moore; pitchers Sam Carmack, Cam Hatch and Chase Tokungaga; and catcher Alex Ramsey. All players cited misfits with manager Szefc’s small-ball style of play and will pursue other opportunities.
Hockaday’s loss hurts the Terps as he started all games as a freshman as part of the team’s young core, and continued to play exceptionally well as a sophomore. He will be replaced by now-sophomore Kevin Martir. Martir was able to step in last year and adequately fill the void that Hockaday is now leaving; his production freshman year was a pleasant surprise with 62 hits, 27 RBIs, and a .305 batting average. Still, Hockaday’s departure hurts the Terps’ versatility and depth in the event of injury or needed rest.
With Jordan Hagel graduating, Bosse and Olenski’s withdrawals from the program will limit Szefc’s options as to who to start in right field. With Charlie White and Anthony Papio returning, the Terps will look for the perfect fit for the third starting position. Andrew Amaro, Michael Montville and LaMonte Wade are all reliable options, so the Terps are forced to rely on these young men to fill the void. However, the trio of outfielders leaving the program as well as Hagel’s graduation will make the position thinner than Szefc would have liked. The arrival of freshman outfielder Allan Hooker will force Szefc to prep him earlier than expected, as he may receive some sporadic playing time in order to ease the transition for the upcoming season.
Anytime a rising program loses key young guys that can contribute off the bench, fans may find a reason to panic. Although the Terps will certainly miss these players’ contributions, Szefc will manage to develop the bench into superb, ready-to-play bench options that will all be able to step in at any needed time. Since Maryland still returns the bulk of their young lineup, I still expect the team to make large strides to improve on their 30-win season from a year ago.
It just got a little harder now.