Six more Maryland baseball stars selected in 2023 MLB Draft

After Matt Shaw became the highest draft pick in program history on Sunday, six more Terps heard their names called as the 2023 MLB Draft rolled into Tuesday as Maryland baseball produced its most draft picks since 2015.

Three Terps headlined Monday’s draft after Luke Shliger, Jason Savacool, and Nick Lorusso all came off the board with both Shliger and Savacool getting drafted minutes apart from each other.

Shliger, a Buster Posey Award semifinalist and team captain, was first to hear his name called after coming off the board with the 180th overall pick in the sixth round to San Francisco in hopes of becoming the Giants’ next catcher. Shliger is coming off a season where he led the nation and broke the program’s single-season record for runs (93), breaking a record once held by new head coach Matt Swope. This past season, Shliger earned himself second-team all-American honors this past season by D1Baseball and two other publications after batting a .336 batting average, 11 home runs, and 52 RBIs. Shliger now becomes the fourth Terp selected by the San Francisco Giants all-time.

“He’s the best leadoff hitter I’ve ever coached, by far one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said former head coach Rob Vaughn when talking about Shliger. “He can just do everything. He can hit for power, he walks all the time, he competes with two strikes and he’s just a really complete hitter. We’ve had really good ones in the past, but his ability to execute the strike zone and control that is what makes him a separator.”

Jason Savacool didn’t have to wait much longer, coming off the board with the 185th overall pick to the St. Louis Cardinals. Savacool posted a career-high in wins this past season. While he was not as electric as he was in the 2022 season, the two-time All-Big Ten selection was still a key piece of the Terps starting rotation with an ERA of 4.22, while leading the pitchers with 95 strikeouts against 15 home runs. Savacool becomes the fifth player selected by the St. Louis Cardinals all-time.

“Jason has worked very, very hard at the mental side of it,” said coach Vaughn while talking about Savacool and his improvements. “Growing and continuing to weather the good and the bad, not flinch and just keep being himself. That’s been a very big focus on his and to see him not flinch, be as cool as can be, he did his thing and when he does that, I don’t care who you’re facing, he gives you a chance.”

Three rounds later, third baseman Nick Lorusso was selected by the New York Mets with the 276th overall pick. Lorusso is coming off a season where he led the nation with a staggering 105 RBIs as he led the team in hits (100) and batting average (.379) while setting the single-season record with 26 home runs. The first team All-Big Ten selection ended his Maryland career with several program records, including single-game (8), single-season (105) and career (175) RBIs with his 105 RBI season the most for any D1 player since 2003. Now, the consensus All-American becomes the fifth Terp selected by the New York Mets all-time.

“I think he’ll be a Double-A manager’s favorite player right away,” head coach Vaughn said when praising Lorusso. “You could literally stick Nick in the middle of a Double-A lineup, and he’d go hit .320. There’s not a doubt in my mind with the kind of hitter he is, and he’s gonna make some team really lucky.”

With Monday’s draft picks, Maryland baseball recorded four selections in the top-ten rounds for the first time since 2015 and the first time in program history to record four selections in the top nine rounds.

The news didn’t end there as pitcher Nigel Belgrave came off the board to the Miami Marlins with the 443rd overall pick in the 15th round. The northern Virginia native had an up-and-down two seasons in College Park, clocking a 6.79 over his two seasons, yet checked in as the 250th-best prospect in the rankings.

“The 6-foot-4 Belgrave can be an imposing presence on the mound and goes after hitters with a two-pitch power arsenal. He leads with his sinking fastball, thrown up to 96 mph, a pitch that generated a 63 percent ground-ball rate according to Synergy in 2023. His low-80s slider can be a true out pitch, thrown with good bite and sweep when he stays on top of it. Belgrave’s relationship with the strike zone has been spotty during his time in College Park. While he has struck out 11.8 per nine over two years, he’s also walked 8.9 per nine, a rate actually helped by his 7.8/9 BB rate in 2023. Even with the inconsistencies, decision-makers saw him fool hitters enough with his quick arm to think his sinker-slider combination could get outs coming out of a big league bullpen, with some pro instruction.”

Right-hander Nick Dean became the second Terp to hear his name called on Tuesday after coming off the board to the Chicago Cubs with the 556th overall pick in the 19th round, joining Shaw. Dean ended his four-year career as a third-team All-Big Ten selection as he posted a 4.44 career ERA with 157 strikeouts over the last two seasons.

Pitcher Tommy Kane became the seventh Terp drafted, coming off the board 14 picks later to the San Francisco Giants. After 23 appearances in two seasons at Rowan College, Kane transferred to College Park where he finished 2-0 and picked up one save in his lone season as a Terp.

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