Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 25 Belleville East

By Diego Solares
Illinois Staff

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on March 14, opening day for regular season action under IHSA regulations. Over the next two weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2022 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down through the official PBR Illinois Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.

Our 2022 preseason coverage begins today.

Team: Belleville East
Preseason Rank: No. 25
2021 Record: 17-16
Conference: Southwestern
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Ryan Wiggs

roster preview

Micah Georgian SS 2022 -
Alan Mason 2B/RHP 2022 -
Kannon Walker OF/LHP 2022 Lake Land JC
Ean DiPasquale RHP 2023 -
Dylan Mannino RHP 2023 -
Joe Mendiola 3B/RHP 2023 -
Patrick Mendiola C 2023 -
Zander Mueth RHP/1B 2023 Mississippi



+ C Patrick Mendiola (2023): Mendiola missed last spring with an injury and he’s expected to be Belleville East’s starting backstop in 2022 after returning to full health by the summer. The Lancers have a deep and talented staff with high-octane arms nestled at the top, so his ability to reliably receive advanced velocity and breaking balls delivered by those arms will be critical to the team’s success. With that being said, Mendiola had previously looked like a dependable target with quick catch-and-throw traits while protecting the basepaths – and judging by his performance at a PBR Indiana-hosted event last October, Mendiola is totally healthy and his defense is arguably his best asset.


+ RHP Ean DiPasquale (2023): DiPasquale shouldered a heavy workload last year as a sophomore and he’s expected to handle a similar share of this team’s innings this spring. He amassed 34 innings pitched in 2021 and finished his sophomore spring with an ERA of 2.26 and 35 Ks over that span. His workload as an underclassmen should help him acclimate to an expanded role in 2022, with Belleville East’s top two arms last season graduated. DiPasquale’s development alongside the other arms inside this rotation could become the Lancers’ strength, granting Belleville East one of the state’s best one-two punches at the top of its rotation, with other competitive juniors filling in the gaps at the back of the rotation and in the bullpen. 


Though they only finished one win above .500 last season, this year’s Belleville East squad has potential to make a run at the Southwestern Conference title in 2022, and its pitching staff has the upside to hoist them through a lengthy postseason run.

The Lancers return a handful of players from last year’s team, but the most important addition to this roster will unquestionably be RHP Zander Mueth (2023; Mississippi), who missed most of last season with an injury. Mueth’s prospect status is rare, as the 6-foot-5, 190-pound junior is a top-15 player in the country’s junior class, and he may be the highest pedigree Illinois prep player in more than a decade. His projectabillity, current polish, and long-term upside each has Mueth on track to become, possibly, the first prep arm taken off the board of next year’s MLB Draft. His presence atop this rotation provides the Lancers with a true ace and they certainly have to feel good about their chances of winning each game he takes the mound. 

Zander Mueth (9/10/21)

Sliding right next to Mueth in this rotation will be the aforementioned DiPasquale and senior OF/LHP Kannon Walker (2022). Walker returns with plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, as he handled 39 โ…“ innings on the bump last season with a 1.78 ERA and 51 strikeouts to pair. He proved to be a competitive arm in 2021, unafraid of taking the ball against some of Southern Illinois' powerhouse programs. He’ll also hit towards the top of the lineup and likely patrol center field for the Lancers when he's not on the mound. 

The Lancers do have depth in this pitching staff, though it is a bit unproven. RHP Dylan Mannino (2023) and RHP Theo Millas (2022) were both members of this team last season, but they only have 10 innings combined of experience at the varsity level. Junior RHP Owen Kelly (2023) is someone who could see time this year in a relief role, yet he’ll get his first taste of varsity action this spring. The development of this trio throughout the offseason may ultimately be the identity of this team and how deep their roots on the mound truly run. 

Belleville East will return plenty of experience offensively as well, headlined by a strong group at the top of this lineup that all had sustained success last spring. INF Micah Georgian (2022), 3B Joseph Mendiola (2023), and INF Alan Mason (2022) each earned all-conference honors last season, while both Mendiola and Mason should see time on the mound as the season progresses. INF Cannon Kates (2022) and OF Caleb Guthrie (2023) each make their way back into the daily lineup, too, filling out a competitive order that should produce the offense it’ll take to allow for their top-end arms to do the heavy lifting successfully.


The Lancers only won 17 games in 2021, but they were a young squad that returns a handful of key contributors and added an elite top-of-the-rotation arm in Mueth – and we saw how far that can get you just last year when Plainfield East won it all behind their sophomore phenom. How deep they go this year revolves around what they’ll get out of a few unproven positions, but they’re certainly capable of making a run into the IHSA playoffs when the time comes.

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2022 season.

Find more information on the 2022 Lancers below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter