The Maryland baseball team has been very successful in recent years.
After missing the NCAA Tournament a season ago, Baseball America has tabbed the Terrapins as the publication’s favorites to win the Big Ten in 2017.
Maryland is only team projected to be in the top 25 by the publication. It’s also noted that Minnesota and Nebraska could challenge the Terps for the conference title.
Baseball America also predicted that shortstop Kevin Smith will be the Big Ten Player of the Year. Smith hit .259 and slugged eight home runs during the 2016 season.
"“Voted a first-team Preseason All-American by MLB scouting directors, Smith (.259/.308/.409, 8 HR) is hoping to capitalize on the momentum he built over the summer in Cape Cod. He hit .301/.348/.427 this summer and was named playoff MVP. Smith is a solid defender with the offensive skillset to play his way into the first round this June.”"
The widely-respected baseball publication also tabbed Brian Shaffer as the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Shaffer went 8-3 with a 2.60 ERA as he played second fiddle to staff ace Mike Shawaryn last season.
"“Following Mike Shawaryn, who left Maryland with the program’s career wins and strikeout records, won’t be easy, but Shaffer (8-3, 2.60) is up to the task. The junior has pitched well in big games already in his career and will now take over as the Terrapins’ ace. He controls his low-90s fastball well and keeps hitters off balance with his changeup and slider.”"
In addition, Baseball America also listed three Terps in their Top 10 prospects list for 2017. They have Smith as the top prospect along with Shaffer at No. 5 and pitcher Mike Rescigno at No. 9.
In terms of their 2018 Top 10 prospects, second baseman Nick Dunn comes in at No. 1 while outfielder Marty Costes is considered the fifth-best.
Maryland is coming off a 30-27 (13-11 Big Ten) season in 2016. The Terps finished seventh in the Big Ten and had a very up-and-down campaign.
The Terps certainly a ton of potential heading into 2017 despite losing their star pitcher in Shawaryn. Manager John Szefc has really built a great program and 2017 could be a very special year if these preseason accolades are any indication.