Who here knows what a terrapin is? Any guesses? No? That’s okay. As of now, there are three different answers. A terrapin is another name for aquatic turtles from the family Emydidae. Also, a terrapin is the mascot of the University of Maryland. That makes their highly-ranked shortstop, Matt Shaw, a terrapin as well. There you go, three. Did you get any of them right? If not, it’s nothing to fret over.
Shaw, who is ranked 16th overall in the draft class by MLB Pipeline, looks to be the highest-drafted position player in the 167-year history of the University of Maryland. He was also the 2022 Cape Cod League Player of the Year. Shaw hails from Brimfield, Massachusetts, and has a bat that is driving the scouts crazy. He makes consistent contact and has a great eye, which translates to very few strikeouts. But it’s not just his bat that’s getting attention. He also has good speed and is a threat on the base paths. In addition, while he is Maryland’s starting shortstop, he has shown the ability to play numerous positions and could become a valuable utility player at the major league level.
Matt Shaw Draft Profile
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
As previously stated, what makes Shaw so desirable is his bat. Hands down, he is one of the best hitters in the draft class. And not only are his strikeouts few and far between he also has the ability to spray the ball to all fields. And, yes there’s more, he has great power to the opposite field. As a freshman in 2021, Shaw hit .332/.408/.543 with 7 home runs over 45 games. In his sophomore season with the Terps (a cute nickname for the Terrapins), Shaw hit .290/.381/.604 with 22 home runs in 60 games. And in 2023 he topped his previously great numbers, hitting .341/.445/.697 with 24 home runs over 62 games.
Shaw’s pure hitting is the main reason for his 16th overall ranking in the 2023 draft class, but there are a few other factors that play into the high possibility that he will be drafted in the first round. The first is his speed. Sure a shortstop needs to have good speed because range and speed go hand in hand, but Shaw’s is above what’s needed at short. Is he Rickey Henderson? No, but he is a threat to grab a few bags. He stole 37 bags in 167 games for the Terrapins. Granted not enough to make a catcher quake in his cleats, but enough to make a pitcher take a few glances in Shaw’s direction. Other than his speed, Shaw’s versatility in the field hasn’t gone unnoticed. As a freshman, including short, he also played second, third, and outfield. And during his Player of the Year run at the Cape, he played both short and second.
At this point, you might be wondering if this guy is Superman. Well, he’s not, because the Man of Steel’s arms are rock solid, and, unfortunately, Shaw’s arm is not. It’s the one obvious hole in his game. Luckily for Shaw, he’s spent some time on the other side of second, which is why in the long term that might be where he winds up. Also, he’s not going to be Omar Vizquel in the field, he probably won’t be in the running for a gold glove, but he’ll get the job done with a few more errors than one would like.
Can anyone think of a great offensive shortstop with decent speed who has a questionable glove? Anyone? Yes, you, there in the back. Did you say Bo Bichette? Shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays? You did. Great, that’s a spot-on comparison.
First, let’s take a look at their size. Shaw stands at 5’11” and clocks in at 185lbs. Bichette on the other hand is 6’0″ and comes in at 190lbs. Sounds like a near-mirror image. Also, with 1,956 major league at-bats, Bichette is batting .301/.341/.493 with 83 home runs and 49 stolen bases. If we’re looking at Shaw’s 693 at-bats with the Terrapins, he’s batting .320/.413/.697 with 53 home runs and 37 stolen bases. It appears that Shaw has a slight edge offensively, but give him nearly triple that number of at-bats against major league pitching, and surely his slash line will look a little closer to Bichette’s. The point is that these two shortstops hit for high average, with some pop, and can steal a base or two in a pinch. Also, they both might need to take a few more grounders and do some training with the bullpen to get their arms in shape. Sure, Shaw might not have Bichette’s hair game, but that’s nothing that can’t be cured by time and some good conditioner.
Photo Credit: © Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen/USA TODAY