Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown: No. 14 St. Laurence
March 11, 2016
By Sean Duncan
Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 25 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:
| 1B/LHP Thomas Farrell
Team: St. Laurence
Preseason Rank: 14
2015 Record: 23-12
Conference: Chicago Catholic League
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Pete Lotus
Playoff Run: Lost in the Sectional Semifinal
2015 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 4
Returning Pitchers: 5
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Thomas Farrell, 1B/LHP, 2017 (Illinois-Chicago)
Jimmy Burnette, OF/LHP, 2017 (Austin Peay)
Jack Cavanaugh, OF/RHP, 2016
Anthony Rios, Catcher, 2016 (Lewis)
Matt McCormick, C/3B, 2019
Anthony Robles, LHP/OF, 2016
Angel Sandoval, RHP/INF, 2017
Jake Diaz, OF, 2016 (College of DuPage)
Joe Madera, 3B, 2016
Dan Heiden, RHP, 2016
Johnny Peterson, 2B, 2017
Brian Lyle, SS, 2017
Rob Chayka, OF, 2017
Joe Vascik, RHP, 2017
Zach Verta, OF/RHP, 2018
Thomas Farrell. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior left-handed hitting first baseman served as the Vikings’ offensive catalyst as a sophomore last year. Hitting leadoff, Farrell earned first-team All-Catholic League honors as he batted .430 with 51 hits. A tough out, Farrell runs well, clocking a 6.77 60 at the PBR Future Games last summer. Committed to Illinois-Chicago as a position player, Farrell will also be counted on to deliver on the mound for the Vikings.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Matt McCormick. The physically advanced 5-foot-11, 185-pound left-handed hitting catcher is arguably the top offensive prospect in Illinois’ 2019 class. McCormick will likely be a fixture in the middle of the Vikings’ lineup, though he will have to wait his turn behind the plate, what with Anthony Rios returning for his senior campaign.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
RHP/INF Frank Greco
RHP/3B John Riordan (St. Francis)
OF Sean Burnette (Black Hawk JC)
LHP/OF Jimmy Burnette is one of the fastest-rising prospects in Illinois’ 2017 class. At the PBR Preseason All-State Showcase in February, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Burnette turned in arguably the best overall performance. On the mound, the left-hander enjoyed a significant velocity spike, sitting 87-88 mph, touching 89, to go along with a solid changeup. Offensively, he showcased an easy left-handed swing, registering 90 mph exit velocity, was clocked at 90 from the outfield and ran a 6.97 60.
Coach Pete Lotus has set the standards extremely high at the Burbank school, so when his team wins 23 games but finishes fourth in the rugged Chicago Catholic Blue Conference, it is somewhat of a disappointment. Prior to last year, the Vikings had won back-to-back Catholic Blue championships. Lotus is hopeful he has the talent to reclaim supremacy in the state’s toughest conference. The Vikings have a solid mix of classes, headlined by a strong crop of 2017 prospects. They feature depth on the mound, which includes three left-handed pitchers. While St. Laurence has five returning arms with experience, it lacks a dominant No. 1 that the Vikings have had over the years. 1B/LHP Thomas Farrell and LHP/OF Jimmy Burnette are high-level prospects both already verbally committed to Division 1 programs. C Anthony Rios, a Lewis recruit, is a strong defensive catcher who returns behind the plate. OF/RHP Jack Cavanaugh is one of the better uncommitted seniors in the state and should be a run-producer in the middle of the lineup. Senior LHP Anthony Robles throws three pitches for strikes and should provide valuable innings on the mound. Look for freshman Matt McCormick to grab headlines for the next four years. The left-handed hitter is already fielding offers from some of the top programs across the country.
The Vikings didn’t graduate a lot of talent last year, so they should be vastly improved. And while they have plenty of talent and depth across the board, they will be hard-pressed to recapture their Catholic Blue crown against the likes of two-time defending state champion Providence, St. Rita, Mount Carmel and Brother Rice.
Make sure to follow @pbrillinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.
+ Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown Previews
+ Updated Illinois 2016 Rankings
+ Complete Illinois High School Schedules (Coming Soon)