The Maryland Terrapins will be entering their second season under former Vanderbilt assistant coach Erik Bakich. Last season was an adjustment for the Terps and Bakich as they went 17-39, only winning five games in the highly competitive ACC.
Last season, Bakich inherited a program which has only three appearances in the NCAA Tourney in school history, in each of their only ACC Championship winning seasons (1965, 1970, and 1971). “I am trying to change the attitude and create a tradition of winning,” Bakich said. “It will be a long process, but we need to put the blueprint in place for future student-athletes.”
Since taking over the program in June 2009, Bakich made fundraising a priority, with former Terrapin baseball player Bob Smith donating over seven figures to the program in November 2009. Bakich has used the increase in funds to build a new hitting facility, put down new turf, and build two new student sections for the 2011 season. Bakich hopes that the improvements, especially the seating areas, will increase student attendance to games – include adding a more “rowdy” atmosphere.
Upgrading the talent level on their improved field will be the next stop for the Terrapins. The 2011 squad will look different as Bakich has brought in a class of 22 players – a class ranked the 25th best class in the country by Baseball America.
The Terrapins hope this highly ranked incoming class improves the ACC’s worst ranked offense last season (hitting only .255.) Freshman Tim Kiene and College of Southern Nevada transfer Tomo Delp will likely hold down the corner infield spots.
Kiene, a 30th round selection by the Washington Nationals, comes to Maryland out of Connecticut’s Avon Old Farms. Bakich was impressed by Kiene this fall, calling him a “man” and expecting him to step right into the starting lineup.
Delp comes over to the Maryland program after playing with Bryce Harper at the College of Southern Nevada. He is penciled into the starting lineup at third base, but could see time in addition at first. Bakich called him the best hitter during fall ball, and expects him to be drafted in the 2011 MLB Draft.
Perhaps the most intriguing player for the Terps is incoming freshman Jacob Stinnett. The San Diego, CA native flew under the radar out of high school due to a stress fracture, but according to Bakich, “has the chance to be special.” Bakich compares Stinnett to current FSU sophomore Jayce Boyd in terms of body type with a strong arm.
The outfield for the Terps is going to be very deep this year with potentially five different players pushing for a starting spot in the lineup.
Temple College (Texas) transfer Korey Wacker has been a standout during fall practice and during workouts. Last season with Temple College, Wacker hit .385 with 18 stolen bases and four triples. He also is a highly regarded left-handed pitcher, as he closed the final two innings of the NJCAA Region V Tournament title game, which Temple won 6-5 in 13 innings. Wacker is expected to start the season in one of the outfield spots, while serving as the number 1 or 2 hitter depending on early season results. Bakich called him a “bolt of lighting” and commented that he has been an absolute blast to coach. Bakich also stated that Wacker would see some time on the mound as a submarine lefthanded specialist during conference play.
Freshman Charlie White from Naperville, Illinois, is also in the mix for a starting spot and could challenge Wacker for the leadoff role. White has top level speed and was one of the highest recruited players out of Illinois.
Freshman Gary Schiender, out of Germantown, Maryland, is expected to play in one of the corner outfield positions. Freshman Mike Montville, junior Jordan Hagel, and Vanderbilt transfer Matt Marquis could all slip into starting roles. Bakich was also intrigued with freshman Austin Kilborn out of Chesterfield,Virginia. Kilborn could be used both in the outfield and on the mound. His pitches were clocked during fall practice in the low-90′s.
Maryland’s pitching staff will return everyone from last season’s weekend starting rotation, but many improvements will be needed. They finished last season with a team ERA of 7.19.
Top starter Brett Harman, who outdueled 2010 first round pick Deck McGuire and shut out Virginia Tech, will not be pitching this season. Bakich said that Harman was pitching “on guts” in many of his starts last season due to an injury to his pitching arm. Harman will redshirt after undergoing surgery on the arm, with an aim to return for the 2012 season.
The other two returnees to the starting rotation are sophomore RHP Sander Beck and senior LHP Eric Potter. Beck made 16 appearances (15 starts) in a tough year, which saw him go 0-8 with a 7.38 ERA. He had a solid summer with the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League. He went 5-3 with a 1.41 ERA while tossing a no-hitter. Potter only went 2-10 with a 8.80 ERA in 17 starts (15 appearances). Bakich said both of them have improved greatly this summer and should be able to compete with the newcomers for spots in the rotation.
The biggest newcomer – both physically and figuratively – to the pitching staff is David Carroll. The 6-8, 235 pound right hander transfer out of Western Nevada College will be entering his junior season with the Terps. Carroll was the best pitcher in fall practice, according to Bakich. “Carroll was a strike throwing machine, while throwing on a downhill plane.”
The other incomer that could see action is Eugene, Oregon’s Brady Fitzpatrick. He possesses a 88-92 MPH fastball with an excellent changeup.
Lincoln Trail Community College transfer Chuck Ghysels who tops out at 95 MPH is expected to serve as the team’s closer. “Chuck has a swing and miss breaking ball while having a closer’s mentality,” Bakich commented.
The Terrapins will open the 2011 season with a four game series at University of Texas on February 18. Bakich is aiming high with this spring’s squad, thus the start against the legendary Lornhorns. “To be the best, you have to play the best!”