Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 7 Saint Viator

By Andy Sroka
Illinois & Wisconsin Assistant Director

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 continues today.

Team: Saint Viator
Preseason Rank: No. 7
2021 Record: 24-12-2
Conference: East Suburban Catholic
IHSA Class: 3A
Head Coach: Mike Manno


Wally Augustyn 3B/RHP 2022  
Joe Bollard OF/RHP 2022 -
Chase Carroll RHP/1B
2022 -
Ian Farrell CIF 2022 Lake Land JC
Casey Hintz RHP/INF 2022 Kirkwood CC
Dominic McKevitt INF/RHP 2022 Butler (football)
Connor Nicolas C
2022 Ursinus College
Tony Pluta RHP/C 2022 Arizona
Ty Schafer LHP 2022 Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Jack Glasstetter RHP 2023 -
Dylan Harer OF 2023 -
Sean Hogan RHP/1B 2023
Michael Nix OF 2023 -
Jake VanBooven LHP/OF 2023 -
Bryan Hatch INF 2024 -


+ None



+ INF/RHP Casey Hintz (2022; Kirkwood CC commit): Hintz is a legitimate two-way talent who’s particularly raised his stock on the mound, especially since the fall. We saw him on a couple occasions in 2021 where he impressed us on both sides of the ball, which is to Viator’s benefit this spring. Given his live, loose arm on the infield, Hintz is able to reach the low-90s from the rubber with a fastball that features quality spin and hop through the zone, and it works well with his tight-spinning slider that was measured at rates into the 2,600 rpm range around this time last year. He was counted on as a closer last year picking up six saves while striking out 17 in 11 innings pitched, finishing with a 1.27 era. He also swings a loose right-handed bat that should sit at the top of the order this spring. Hintz hit .361 last spring with five doubles, two triples, 41 runs scored and 29 stolen bases. He also walked 33 times, finishing with a .507 OBP.


A 1-3-1 start to their 2021 season probably pushed Saint Viator beneath the radar much too early, but the Lions gained steam as the season trudged on and they headed into late May as a real threat for the 3A title. With conference foes Marist vying for the 4A title, Viator had at least one fewer hurdle to leap come playoff time, as all but three of their 11 regular season losses came against 4A competition, each of which happened to occur in a 1-1 series split against conference opponents. Three convincing wins in the postseason led them to a Sectional title game against Prairie Ridge where they were narrowly beaten, 3-2. That PR team went on to rally its way to a state championship game appearance, and runner-up finish, suggesting these Lions were on track for a similar run.

Dominated by juniors and, thus, inexperienced varsity ballplayers, Viator’s slow start adds up and their talent and depth became more and more evident as the season progressed. In 2022, that inexperience has been transformed into a strength. No other team on this Preseason Power 25 can boast that they return virtually every single one of its starters from a season ago – and many of its returning seniors have made substantial gains in between seasons.

We dubbed Hintz as the team’s ‘X-Factor’ as he’s reportedly seen his velocity jump on the mound, creating an excellent two-way tandem at the top of its rotation alongside teammate, RHP/C Tony Pluta (2022; Arizona). Pluta propelled himself up the state’s Class of 2022 rankings in the summer and fall as his velocity from the mound kept climbing. Up to 94 mph in front of our staff, Pluta hasn’t stolen our attention on velocity alone. The Arizona recruit unleashes fastballs efficiently and fluidly from a 5-foot-8 stature that actually complements his arsenal. His heater gets on hitters quickly and explodes through the strike zone with high spin, and that spin ability creates a biting breaking ball and he has a swing-and-miss changeup he can utilize, too. Pluta finished with a 6-1 record, 1.52 era, striking out 68 in 50.2 innings pitched. Additionally, and to the benefit of Viator, Pluta is also an above-average athlete and defender behind home plate, and he’s an impactful right-handed hitter. Like his aggressive fastball, Pluta is on the attack offensively, with loose hands and bat speed that will allow him to energize the Lions from near the top of the order again in 2022. Last season Pluta finished with a .373 average with eight doubles, four home runs while knocking in 36. He also walked 34 times and was hit by a pitch 10 times, good for a .550 OBP. 

Tony Pluta (6/27/21)

This is where Saint Viator’s depth and versatility will come in handy, helping conserve the arms of Pluta and Hintz, considering the two are also valuable defenders and, two of the more productive hitters on the team. But that sounds like it’s a knock on the rest of these Lions, when it’s really just a way of highlighting how two of Illinois’ top two-way players share this dugout.

In reality, this senior class makes up the majority of the daily lineup and it’s a talented group that should use the 2021 season as a means of motivation. Joining Pluta and Hintz as everyday senior starters: INF/RHP Dominic McKevitt (2022; Butler, football), CIF Ian Farrell (2022; Lake Land JC), OF Joe Bollard (2022), and Connor Nicolas (2022) is, reportedly, a quality catcher in his own right who will make sure that Pluta can rest his arm when needed. McKevitt hit in the middle of this order in 2021, and he’s a taller athlete who’s become a wide receiver prospect, now committed to Butler. Last season he led the Lions in hits with 44, finishing with a .361 average to go along with 15 doubles, 27 RBIs and 28 runs scored. Farrell was named all-conference in 2021 after hitting .394 with 11 doubles, a triple, three home runs, 26 RBIs and 28 runs scored. He also stole 14 bags, walked 19 times and had a .504 OBP.  And Bollard’s left-handed bat knocked in 22 runs last season with two doubles, a triple, home run and a .342 average. Senior INF/RHP Wally Augustyn will provide even more depth to the offense, along with the pitching staff. 

As underclassmen last year, now-juniors OF Dylan Harer (2023), OF Michael Nix (2023), and INF Zan Von Schlegell (2023) are each talented in their own respective ways, and each will fortify this daily lineup, extending the amount of competitive bats opposing pitchers can expect to battle against. Harer is a projectable athlete, listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, who bats switch but looks especially threatening in the left-handed box. Nix is a sub-6.90 runner who’s also another lefty bat to note in the order. And Von Schlegell proved to be one of the biggest ‘winners’ along our Preseason ID circuit. At our Lockport ID, he produced one of the top statistical performances of the winter – he ran a 6.78, was 92 mph across the infield, and averaged an exit speed from the right side of nearly 91 mph, with a 96.6 max that traveled an estimated 363 feet.

Zan Von Schlegell (2/21/22)

The lone underclassman expected to see action in 2022 is sophomore INF Bryan Hatch (2024), who is due for an expanded role this spring after earning time on this team as just a freshman last season. Hatch went 6-for-17 (.353 BA) in limited at-bats last season but has a chance to do a lot more damage this spring. 

Briefly, it’s worth breaking down the arms that will follow seniors Pluta and Hintz both in relief and in the rotation. More seniors like LHP Ty Schaefer (2022; Wisconsin-Eau Claire), RHP/1B Chase Carroll (2022), McKevitt, Farrell, and Bollard should be able to eat quality innings. Farrell, is expected to be handed the ball late in games after going 2-for-2 in save opportunities last spring. Farrell struck out five and did not allow a hit in his three innings of work. Junior LHP/OF Jake VanBooven (2023) is an athletic left/left prospect worth monitoring. And RHP/1B Sean Hogan (2023) is another name who may earn time on the mound this season, and maybe even inside the lineup with his left-handed bat.


Saint Viator has had some special rosters in recent memory (3A state title in 2017), but few have come together quite like this year’s. Last season’s success, the amount of innings and at-bats they return, and the development key players made over the offseason combine to create significant preseason excitement. Head coach Mike Manno has guided this program to 20-plus wins in seven of the last eight seasons, and it’s possible this is his deepest group ever – and that’s saying something.

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

Find more information on the 2022 Lions below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter