Preseason Team Countdown: No. 7 Sandburg



By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the top 75 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: Sandburg
Preseason Rank:
7
2013 Record:
22-10
Conference:
Southwest Suburban Blue
IHSA Class:
4A
Head Coach:
Jim Morsovillo
Playoff Run: Lost in First Round
2013 Final Rank: Not Ranked

Returning Starters: 3
Returning Pitchers:
5

TOP PLAYERS

Bryan Pall, RHP, 2014 (Michigan)
Sean Leland, RHP, 2014 (Louisville)
Matthias Dietz, RHP, 2014 (John A. Logan JC)
Alec Martinez, 3B/RHP, 2015
Dan Santiago, OF, 2014 (Prairie State)
Chris Stearns, OF, 2014
Jimmy Roche, RHP/INF, 2015

X-FACTOR
Sandburg’s big three pitching staff - Pall, Leland and Dietz - is well-documented. The key to Sandburg’s ultimate success is its offense. Look for junior 3B/RHP Alec Martnez to build off a strong sophomore campaign in which he batted .300 with 6 doubles, 20 RBI and 21 runs.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Jim Landgraf, OF, 2015. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder ran a 6.58 60 at the Preseason All-State Showcase in February.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Alec Nelson, 1B (SIU-Edwardsville)

STAT RAT
Right-handers Bryan Pall and Sean Leland comprise arguably the most dominant duo in the state. They both feature upper-80s fastballs, sometimes a tick hotter, and sharp sliders in the low-80s. Pall’s slider gets up to 84-85 at times. The two combined to go 10-2 last season. Pall had a 1.40 ERA while Leland had a 1.60 ERA. Both are ranked in the top 20 of Illinois’ 2014 class.

OUTLOOK
If the Eagles’ offense can produce enough runs, then look for Sandburg to be one of the state’s most dominant teams. They certainly have the pitching to beat anyone in the state. Second-year coach Jim Morsovillo has two legitimate aces on its stafff in Pall and Leland. Beyond that, 6-foot-5, 215-pound Matthias Dietz is also a frontline guy, as he works in the mid-to-upper 80s as well. The Eagles also have several other capable arms to add depth. Junior 3B/RHP Alec Martinez and senior OF Dan Santiago (6 doubles, 20 RBI, 15 SB) will be counted on to produce runs, and senior OF Chris Stearns is coming off a strong summer campaign. Morsovillo will rely on several juniors in the infield.

BOTTOM LINE
Traditionally, Sandburg is one of the state’s most competitive programs. But the Orland Park school couldn’t have been happy about getting bounced in the first round last year. While the Eagles graduated the majority of their run-producers, they clearly have one of - if not the best - pitching staffs in the state. So … if pitching and defense win championships, then they have half the equation already. Their fairly untested defense (and offense) will need to play to their potential to get through their tough conference and sectional.

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