Matt Swope inherited a Maryland baseball roster devoid of star power and depth, in large part due to a handful of veterans entering the MLB draft and droves of outgoing transfers.
That left the first-year coach staring down a sizable rebuild at the end of last season. But the route that allowed so many players to move on from the Terps — the transfer portal — is exactly how Swope has filled the holes they left behind. Now, Swope will look to keep Maryland a perennial Big Ten power with a swath of new transfers.
The coach has acquired 12 incoming transfers, made up of eight pitchers and four position players. The group brings a mix of experience and youth to the Terps, and will have opportunities to contribute instantly.
“Our roster is in a really good spot,” Swope said.
Left-hander Omar Mélendez and right-hander Logan Koester were No. 1 starters for their previous teams, and the pitchers will vie to maintain the top spot at Maryland. Mélendez had a 2.52 ERA last season at Alabama State, which finished atop the SWAC standings, while Koester led George Washington’s pitching staff.
The two are the most obvious choices to replace Jason Savacool, Nick Dean and Kyle McCoy in the starting rotation. The third spot could go to James Gladden, a right-hander from VCU with three remaining years of eligibility, the most of any incoming transfer.
Gladden led the Rams in innings and ERA as a freshman last season pitching as a starter and in relief. Gladden’s mid-90s fastball, paired with his sharp curveball, was attractive to Swope, the coach said. That gives the right-hander a chance to be effective no matter his role.
Alex Walsh, a graduate transfer from Lafayette, is among the most experienced incoming hurlers. The right-hander was named first team All-Patriot League during his senior season, pitching to a 3.71 ERA in 14 appearances and 12 starts. If Swope opts for experience rather than upside for a rotation spot, Walsh could edge out Gladden.
Gladden and Walsh could also slot into Maryland’s bullpen, which faltered often last season. Kenny Lippman, perhaps the Terps’ best reliever in the postseason, will return and have an almost entirely new cast around him.
Right-hander Logan Berrier started for Longwood last season but will likely be a reliever for Maryland. His 5.24 ERA last season as a starter overshadows his 2.87 ERA from the year prior — a season when Berrier pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, the role he’ll likely be in again.
Dartmouth’s Trystan Sarcone, Rutgers’ Garrett French and UNC Wilmington’s Evan Marcinko round out the rest of Maryland’s new bullpen options. Swope believes each will benefit from his motor preference philosophies.
“I know the power of putting people in a position their body wants to be,” Swope said. “You’re looking for talent, you’re looking for success, but you also know that there’s possibly something that you could find, that could really, really change [their] trajectory.”
After losing Matt Shaw, Nick Lorusso and Luke Shliger, Maryland will welcome four additions to the lineup who can immediately play.
Sam Hojnar and Alex Calarco have clear paths to starting roles. Hojnar, who mostly played second base for Iowa, will do the same for the Terps as Swope plans to move Kevin Keister to shortstop.
Calarco played catcher and infield for Northwestern last year but will be Maryland’s designated hitter to begin the season, Swope said. The switch hitter recently underwent shoulder surgery, which will limit him to hitting during his first season with the Terps.
Calarco’s measly four home runs last season perplexed Swope. During Calarco’s visit to Maryland, Swope determined his pivot point in his spine was off-center.
Tweaks like that, which Swope has helped countless players make during his coaching career, give him hope his additions who underperformed elsewhere can turn it around for the Terps.
“When I know motor preferences and I see what they’re not doing correctly, it makes it very easy for me to say, ‘Oh wow, this guy’s had some production. I can only imagine if I get my hands on him, what it can do,’” Swope said.
Charlie Glennon will take over from Shliger as Maryland’s backstop next season. The graduate transfer from Denison boasts a similar profile to his predecessor as a catcher who gets on base often and has speed unique to the position. His 24 stolen bases last season would have led Maryland.
Ben Nardi, who will make the jump from Division III to Division I alongside Glennon, is Catholic University’s all-time home run leader and could be a natural fit next to Elijah Lambros in the corner outfield.
Maryland is likely finished adding from the transfer portal. Swope has amassed a deep class of newcomers that can address some of the Terps’ biggest weaknesses from previous years and help replenish the lost talent. The coach hopes each new roster addition will help Maryland reach the level of success that’s expected next season.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that Alex Calarco underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2023 offseason. Calarco underwent shoulder surgery. This story has been updated.