In the days leading up to the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, recent DeMatha Catholic High School graduate and University of Maryland, College Park recruit Justin Morris contemplated his options regarding if and when he was selected.
Morris had thoroughly discussed those options with his family and agreed that if he were taken in one of the first four rounds and got a decent contract offer from the Major League club that chose him, he would likely bypass college and head directly to instructional camp. When he heard from one club, which he declined to name, the offer was below his target number and Morris opted to remain with Maryland.
“My parents and I talked about it for several days,” said Morris, who was selected in the 35th round and 1,050th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks. “From talking to scouts, we had thought I might get chosen in the third and fourth round. One team said they would take me in the fifth round, but the offer did not meet what we had set as our number, so I told them I wasn't interested and I will be playing at Maryland.”
Morris, who was recently selected as a member of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference first team as the Stags' catcher, should join several familiar faces at Maryland later this summer. Morris, who starts playing with the Bethesda Big Train on Friday, joins brother Zach Morris and fellow rising freshman Taylor Bloom, a recent Riverdale Baptist graduate, on the Terps' 2015 roster. Chase Brewis (Riverdale Baptist) and Tayler Stiles (Bishop McNamara) were freshmen at Maryland this spring.
“Having my brother there certainly helped,” Morris said. “I wanted to stay close to home and be able to play in front of family and friends. I like the direction that the program is headed. They won the NCAA Region tournament for the first time in over 40 years and they [played] in the Super Regionals against Virginia. It's an exciting time for me and for the program.”
While Morris opted to play for the Terps for at least the next three seasons — he will be eligible for the draft again in 2017 — Olney native Nick Howard, a St. John's College High School graduate and current junior pitcher for Virginia, was chosen in the first round and 19th overall by the Chicago Cubs. Howard had also played locally for Damascus Legion Post 171.
Another Montgomery County product, Garrett Pearson, a recent St. John's graduate and Rockville native, was selected in the 34th round with the 1,021st overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles.
Four current Maryland players were selected in the draft. Pitcher Jake Stinnett was taken in the second round and 45th overall by the Chicago Cubs; pitcher Ben Brewster was chosen in the 15th round (438th overall) by the Chicago White Sox, Charlie White went in the 21st round (619th overall) to the Cubs and Blake Schmit was taken in the 26th round (770th overall) by the Minnesota Twins.
Ryan Ripken, the son of Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., was chosen in the 15th round by the Washington Nationals. Ripken is a first baseman at Indian River State College in Florida after transferring from South Carolina University.