Preseason High School Preview: St. Dominic
March 10, 2023
The Missouri high school baseball season is set to kick off shortly, with ‘Opening Day’ set for March 17th. Over the next two weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2023 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications.
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 2023 preseason coverage continues today.
Team: St. Dominic
2022 Record: 25-6
Conference: Archdiocesan Athletic Association
Head Coach: Cie Arell
Charlie Kilcullin, LHP/OF, 2024: Kilcullin did most of his damage on the mound as a sophomore, twirling 38 stellar innings, posting a 1.29 ERA with a perfect 7-0 record and 41 strikeouts. Now, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore is ready to take over as the full-time staff ace and has the arsenal to do so. He’ll work in the mid-80s with his fastball, touching 86 mph at our GBA Scout Day, and also throws two secondaries, including advanced feel to turn over a changeup that regularly lives down in the zone. Kilcullin also swings a loud left-handed bat that saw success in a brief stint last season and could slide into a more impactful role in 2023. Positive production from this uncommitted junior should continue to steer St. Dominic’s season in the right winning direction.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Gavin Richars, RHP/INF, 2025: Richars saw brief time on varsity at the plate last season, but the expectation now is that he sees more time in his sophomore campaign. A dynamic 6-foot, 170-pound prospect with explosive athleticism and arm speed, Richars showed why he’s one of the state’s premier 2025 prospects at the GBA Scout Day this winter. His fastball jumps up in the zone with rise and run, and it’s a pitch that he’ll be able to miss bats with at a high level. Richars throws a short wrinkle slider with tight spin and late break at 80-81 mph, and he also turns over a 85-86 mph splitter that tumbles down in the zone. Richars has impressed us as a position player in the past and his athleticism has no problem translating to the offensive end either. Still, his most valuable contribution to St. Dominic this season will likely be on the mound, where Richars can be a game-changing type of talent for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders came one win away from a quarterfinals appearance, falling to Fort Zumwalt East in the District 4 championship game. Last year was still plenty productive for St. Dominic, as they won 25 games in total and secured back-to-back Archdiocesan Athletic Association conference titles.
St. Dominic will need to replace some offensive production graduated from their 2022 class, but the Crusaders return two seniors that’ll play key roles in helping them do so. CIF Sam Birkenmeier (2023) had an explosive junior year, thumping balls with consistency from a physical 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame. Over 85 at-bats last spring, Birkenmeier slashed .424/.500/.682 with 10 extra-base hits, including four home runs, and 32 RBIs. Him and Kilcullin bring the thump into this lineup, while OF Carter Sommerkamp (2023) is a left-handed bat to know on this roster. Sommerkamp’s knack for getting on base could play nicely for the Crusaders - he reached base 20 times last season over 72 plate appearances via the free pass and scored 25 runs as a result.
The Crusaders junior class is shaping up nicely and they have multiple pieces that are likely to contribute for them this season. C Harrison Wurdack (2024) and INF Jack Roppa (2024) showed they could hold their own at the varsity level last season, putting up noteworthy numbers in a limited sample. RHP Evan Luke (2024) brings a physical 6-foot-4, 217-pound presence to the mound that showed us a loud two-pitch mix at the Midwest Futures Scout Day this winter. There, Luke’s fastball sat 86-88 mph with cut and he spun a true sweeping slider at 73-76 mph that covered nearly the whole plate at times. 1B Evan Mannebach (2024) also impressed on that day, wielding impressive bat strength (99.3 mph) from the left side with a 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame to pair. OF/RHP Reid Cisel (2024) is another member of this junior class that can contribute in 2023.
Head coach Cie Arell inherits a talented team in his first year at the top of this program that’s eager to build off what they started last season. They’re the favorites to take home their third straight conference championship this spring and, once the postseason comes, should be a team that’ll make some noise in their district.
Follow along @PBRMissouri for complete coverage of the 2023 high school season.
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