Maryland pitcher Jake Stinnett became the program’s highest Major League Baseball draft pick in seven years Thursday night, when he was chosen 45th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft.
Stinnett is the 15th Maryland player to be drafted over the last four years and the highest Terrapin selected since Brett Cecil went to the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round (38th overall pick) of the 2007 draft.
The Vista, Calif., native significantly raised his stock after electing to return to Maryland for his senior season. Stinnett was a 29th-round selection in last year’s MLB draft, once he joined the starting rotation. He began the 2013 season as Maryland’s closer.
In 2014, Stinnett earned second-team all-ACC honors while compiling a 7-6 record and a 2.65 earned run average in 15 starts He struck out a program record and ACC-best 130 batters in 112 innings this season. Opponents are hitting just .192 against the right-hander.
Stinnett is expected to start Game 1 when Maryland makes its first-ever appearance in the super regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament Saturday against top-seeded Virginia in Charlottesville. He allowed 10 hits and three runs while striking out 10 batters over eight innings when the Terrapins beat the Cavaliers, 7-6, in the ACC tournament last month.
Maryland Coach John Szefc said earlier this week he isn’t concerned about Stinnett being distracted because of the draft.
“He’s a real mature guy. He’s been through a lot this year,” Szefc said. “I’ll congratulate him when he gets drafted because he’s put a lot of work into it. He’s earned what he gets here when he gets called out on Thursday, but I think he’s come a long way. I think this is really important to him. …
“I think he’ll enjoy Thursday and then at some point put it behind him and focus on Saturday.”
Three Virginia players participating in this weekend’s NCAA tournament super regional were also selected during the first night of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
Cavaliers closer Nick Howard, an All-Met from Olney, led the charge, picked No. 19 overall by the Cincinnati Reds. Howard set an ACC record with 19 saves this season after being moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. His fastball, which barely broke 90 mph when he starred at St. John’s, is now regularly clocked at 98 mph.
Two more Cavaliers were selected back-to-back in the competitive balance portion of the first round. Left fielder Derek Fisher went to the Cleveland Indians with the No. 37 overall pick, and first baseman Mike Papi, the Cavaliers’ top hitter the past two seasons, was chosen by the Houston Astros with the very next pick.
Fisher was considered one of the top hitting propsects in the country coming out of high school, electing to come to Virginia even after he was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB draft.
Virginia was the only college team in the country with three players selected Thursday, and it’s the first time in program history that multiple players were taken in the first round. Four other Cavaliers — center fielder Brandon Downes, catcher Nate Irving, starting pitcher Artie Lewicki and second baseman Branden Cogswell — are expected to be picked Friday or Saturday as part of the 40-round MLB draft.