As Maryland's baseball coaches waited for prized right-hander Mike Shawaryn to pick his college destination four years ago, they created a nickname that wound up sticking.Shawaryn, who was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the Draft on Friday, would forever be known as "The Unicorn" during
As Maryland's baseball coaches waited for prized right-hander Mike Shawaryn to pick his college destination four years ago, they created a nickname that wound up sticking.
Shawaryn, who was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the Draft on Friday, would forever be known as "The Unicorn" during his three years with the Terrapins.
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"He can pitch; he's got some deception and some pitchability, and at times his stuff has been really good," Red Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said of Shawaryn. "He's been a real solid performer, and we've seen a lot of him. We believe in his makeup and look forward to getting him going."
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By the time Shawaryn realized a dream and got drafted by Boston, his accomplishments were completely tangible instead of mythical -- and Red Sox fans will be enthused by what Maryland pitching coach Jim Belanger has to say about his ace from the last three seasons.
"He's a winner," said Belanger. "I would be willing to bet he's probably the only guy in the Draft that had, in three years, over 300 innings, over 300 strikeouts and 30 wins in college. That's all he's done, win. He's a workhorse, and he'll be really, really good. He'll be a good pro."
So how did the whole unicorn thing start?
"In the recruiting process, the way everyone goes now, everyone recruits so early," Belanger said. "He just took a long time. Guys will be committing their sophomore year, early their junior year. That's usually kind of when it happens. He didn't make his decision until February of his senior year, with three months of school left.
"Everybody in the country was recruiting him. We have our staff meetings every Monday and go over recruiting as a staff, and it just became a funny thing that we created, like it was never going to happen, just because he was always taking his time."
Count Belanger among those who felt MLB teams were taking too much time in selecting Shawaryn, who hails from Carneys Point, N.J.
"He should have gotten drafted way higher, in my opinion," said Belanger. "I think the Red Sox got an absolute steal with that pick. I thought Mike should have been a second-rounder. I think he'll be great."
The only thing Shawaryn is associated with more than unicorns is his desire to take the ball in big games. He is considered the ultimate competitor.
"He's always wanted the ball," Belanger said. "Since he's been here, his first start in college was on the road at the University of Florida, and he beat them. Ever since then, he's just been doing it every weekend."
Shawaryn has a big, strong body at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds to support his mid-90s fastball and a slider that has strong action.
"A little whippy arm action," said Belanger. "It's really deceptive, just because there's a lot of whip to it. I think his fastball goes from 90-94 [mph], but I think it plays up a little bit because it jumps on guys."
But the mental side of things is where Shawaryn might possess his best attributes.
"I think getting through a Minor League system, you really need to be mentally tough, because you're going to have ups and downs and it's a grind," said Belanger. "You're on a bus all the time. Mentally, he's about as good as you're going to get, being able to handle things, maturity-wise. He's a consummate professional, and he'll be like that every step of the way through that organization."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.