Preseason Team Countdown: No. 41 Sandburg



By Ryan Quigley
Illinios Scouting Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: Carl Sandburg
Preseason Rank: 41
2014 Record:
24-9
Conference: Southwest Suburban Blue
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Jim Morsovillo
Playoff Run:
Lost in Sectional Semi-Final to Providence (Class 4A State Champion)
2014 Final Rank:
22
Returning Starters:
4
Returning Pitchers:
1

TOP PLAYERS
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Jim Roche, SS/RHP, 2015
Ben Kociper, MIF, 2015
Griffin Kazmierczak, C, 2015
Jim Landgraf, OF, 2015
Peter Paxinos, 3B, 2015
Kenny Michalowski, DH/RHP, 2015
Andy Gaytan, OF, 2016

X-FACTOR
Senior SS/RHP Jimmy Roche, ranked No. 152 in Illinois’ 2015 class impressed this fall for Cangelosi Baseball at the Kernels Invitational in Cedar Rapids and remains one of the top unsigned seniors in Illinois. The 6.85 runner ((6.66 reportedly at a winter college camp) can do it all, going 14-15 in stolen bases during the 2014 spring season, hitting .348, with 23 RBI, and 22 runs scored. Roche also impressed with a fastball/slider combination from multiple arm angles, dropping down at times. The fastball has been up to 85 mph, paired with the hard 74-76 mph late breaking slider.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Freshman middle infielder Branden Comia may not play varsity as a freshman, but is an early consideration for the top prospect in Illinois’ 2018 class. In a showcase setting this winter, Comia impressed with his all around athleticism and middle infield actions, throwing 84 mph across the diamond, producing 86 mph exit velocity, and running a 7.22 60. Left-handed hitting junior outfielder Andy Gaytan also should make an impact after hitting .457 this summer.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Sandburg was dealt a blow this winter when RHP/MIF Alec Martinez (ranked No. 91 in the 2015 class) tore his ACL in basketball. Martinez would have helped anchor the Eagles pitching staff, which graduated its top three arms in Sean Leland (Louisville), Brian Pall (Michigan), and Matthias Dietz (John A. Logan JC) who were all top 30 prospects in Illinois’ 2014 class.

STAT RAT
Four regulars return who hit .300 or better in 2014 including Roche (.348 BA), Ben Kociper (.322 BA, 11 R), Jim Landgraf (.351 BA, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 18-18 SB), and Peter Paxinos (.346 BA, 20 R, 7 2B).

OUTLOOK
Any high school program that loses three arms the caliber of Pall, Leland, and Dietz should expect a drop off in the upcoming season, but Sandburg historically reloads, and there is always unknown talent at the lower levels that emerges out of nowhere. Look for junior OF Andy Gaytan, junior 1B Sean McShane, and junior P/INF Troy Jones to make contributions in their varsity debuts.

BOTTOM LINE
Sandburg’s senior dominated infield will be its strength with Roche, Kociper, and Paxinos leading the way. Historically year in and year out the Eagles are a factor in the state rankings regardless of how many players that graduate. Despite the loss of perhaps the state’s deepest rotation of Pall, Leland, and Dietz, Sandburg can never be counted out and should compete for the SWSC crown.

Preseason Countdown

+ Top 50 Preseason Countdown Rankings

+ Updated Illinois 2015 Rankings

+ June Event Schedule

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