Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 3 St. Laurence



 By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Illinois high school season kicked off Monday, March 13, the first day for regular season games.

Over the last several weeks, we have been rolling  out team previews of high school teams all across the state and  across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25. 

We have been sending out our annual Preseason Questionnaire to coaches all across the state and as the responses flood in we will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: St. Laurence
Preseason Rank: 3
2016 Record: 31-9
Conference: Chicago Catholic League Blue
IHSA Class:
4A
Head Coach:
Pete Lotus
Playoff Run:
Super Sectional
2016 Final Rank:
7
Returning Starters:
7
Returning Pitchers:
3

Top Players

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Thomas Farrell IL
St. Laurence
2017
1B/LHP Illinois-Chicago
Jimmy Burnette IL St. Laurence 2017
LHP/OF
Austin Peay
Marius Balandis IL St. Laurence 2017
RHP Iowa Western CC
Matt McCormick IL St. Laurence 2019
C/3B West Virginia
Angel Sandoval IL St. Laurence 2017
RHP
Saint Francis (IL)
Joe Vasick
IL St. Laurence 2017
RHP Maryville University
Brian Lyle IL St. Laurence 2017
SS
 University of Chicago
Johnny Peterson IL St. Laurence 2017
2B  
Jake Lotz IL St. Laurence 2017
LHP
 Lewis University
Zach Verta IL St. Laurence 2018
OF/RHP
 
Shawn Donahue IL St. Laurence 2017
RHP
 
Dave Lox IL St. Laurence 2017
OF
 

KEY PLAYERS LOST
Jack Cavanaugh, OF/RHP (Evansville)
Anthony Rios, C (Lewis University)
Jake Diaz, OF (College of DuPage)
Anthony Robles, LHP
 

X-FACTOR
The Vikings have one of the most talented two-way players in the state in Illinois commit, LHP/OF Jimmy Burnette. Burnette, now a senior, is a left/left athlete who has a live arm and runs his fastball up to 90 mph. When not on the mound Burnette will captain the outfield in center using his sub 7.0 speed and big arm, to close the gaps on hitters and challenging opposing baserunners.

STAT RAT
.381, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4HR, 39 RBI, 25 R, 18 BB, 17K. Last year’s stat line for C/3B Matt McCormick who was a freshman starting in the three hole for the Vikings. McCormick one of the top 2019’s in Illinois was the team leader in batting average, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI as a freshman, look for that trend to continue in McCormick’s sophomore campaign.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
The Vikings are already returning seven starters and three arms from last years Super Sectionals team that went 31-9, now imagine adding an 88-92 mph RHP who can touch 94 mph to the rotation. Well that's what Coach Lotus acquired in transfer Marius Balandis. Balandis, a transfer student from Lithuania, has been living in the states since the winter of 2016 and previously taking online courses. Balandis enrolled at St. Laurence this fall for his senior year and is likely to catch some draft buzz this spring after showcasing a 94 mph fastball at the Super 60. Balandis would be an ace of nearly any staff in the state, now pair him up with LHP Jimmy Burnette and the Vikings have a deadly 1-2 punch that could take them all the way to a title.

Marius Balandis (2.5.17)

OUTLOOK
The Vikings bring back the core of their team in 2017 and 24 of their 31 wins on the mound. Add Marius Balandis, one of the top senior arms in Illinois to the mix and the Vikings will have one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches on the mound in the state with Balandis and Burnette. The staff will also feature plenty of veteran depth with senior RHP's Joey Vascik, Angel Sandoval, Shawn Donahue and LHP's Tommy Farrell and Jake Lotz. Junior RHP's Gage Olszak, Nick Heiden and Jimmy Patock should also eat up innings on the mound as well. The Vikings return their entire starting infield with SS Brian Lyle, 2B Johnny Peterson, 3B Matt McCormick, 1B Tommy Farrell and seven position players who started in 2016. Left-handed hitters McCormick, Farrell and Burnette will anchor the middle of the order. McCormick, a special talent, hit in the three hole as a freshman and led the team in numerous offensive categories. McCormick will likely slide behind the plate this year with the graduation of Anthony Rios. Junior OF Zach Verta started last season and will also provide some punch somewhere in the middle of the lineup.

BOTTOM LINE
The veteran savvy Vikings have one of deepest and most experienced teams with a number of seniors who are three year starters. With the added piece of RHP Marius Balandis the Vikings front end pitching, rock solid defense and veteran offense have the capability to beat anyone come the postseason.

Make sure to follow @pbrillinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.

preseason countdown