SOUTH BEND — Jake Stinnett was allowed by rule to leave the University of Maryland after his junior season and explore professional baseball.

The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Stinnett in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, but he chose not to sign.

The right-handed pitcher from Vista, Calif., opted to pitch his senior season with the Terrapins in 2014 and does not regret the decision — he wound up as a second-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs.

“It was another year where I could grow and develop my skills. I got to play another year with my college baseball team. I have a lot of buddies there. It was a great experience there.”

Stinnett, who is a member of the South Bend Cubs, said he learned much during the fourth collegiate season.

“My junior year was kind of my first full year of (just) pitching so I had to get out a lot of the kinks,” Stinnett said. “It helped me develop consistency. I always enjoyed playing the field, but I struggled trying to do two things at once. I never felt like I was developing like I should as a position player or a pitcher, so I thought (committing to pitching exclusively) was for the best.“

In going 8-6 with a 2.67 earned run average and 132 strikeouts and 30 walks in 118 innings for Maryland in 2014, Stinnett built the case for Chicago to take him in the second round of that year’s draft. He was the 45th player taken overall.

Stinnett, who is heading into his first full pro season in 2015 after spending some time in the Arizona League and Northwest League last summer, is an aggressive kind of pitcher.

In four collegiate seasons, he fanned 197 batters in 201 innings. Last summer, he whiffed 10 in 11 innings.

"Every successful pitcher's outlook is to attack the hitters and not fall behind (in the count) and be the aggressor," Stinnett said. "I think it was Randy Johnson who said, 'You've got to intimidate the intimidator.' That's something a lot of pitchers try to live by and it gives them success."

Stinnett is committed to working fast on the mound.

"You want to keep your defense awake," he said. "It can be tough when a pitcher's slow."

The Cubs open the 2015 Class A Midwest League season Thursday, April 9, at Four Winds Field.

Stinnett would like to quickly move up the Chicago Cubs ladder, but he realizes that he has to be patient while honing all the skills he needs to succeed.

"It's a process and that's something I've really had to learn," he said.

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