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St. Louis grabs five in Early Period

ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis University head baseball coach Darin Hendrickson has signed five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to attend SLU and play baseball for the Billikens. They will begin play for the Billikens in 2010.

“This class is reflective of our needs due to our large class last year,” Hendrickson said. “We were cautious in this process and went after the five best guys we could find who can fill the gaps. We look forward to seeing where this class ends up in three or four years.”

Michael Levine, SS, Prairie Village, Kan./Shawnee Mission South High School

Levine vaulted Shawnee Mission South to a state tournament appearance and a regional championship his junior year after hitting .514 and driving in 19 runs. The first-team All-Conference choice also posted a .634 on-base percentage and slugged .771. Levine stole seven bases, scored 23 runs and registered 11 doubles for the Raiders while anchoring the middle infield. Levine, who plans to major in pre-med at SLU, is a Kansas Honors Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.

“Michael is a polished shortstop who is versatile and can play any position up the middle,” Hendrickson said. “He has gaudy offensive numbers in a good program at Shawnee Mission South. He works hard to get the most out of his ability, and he has that edge about him that he belongs here and can come in right away and play.”

Chris Longo, 1B/DH, Commack, N.Y./Commack High School

Longo helped Commack High School to an 18-11 record last season and a League 1 Suffolk County co-championship. He led the squad in homers, and his best career performance to date in his career came when he went 4-for-4 with a home run, triple and two singles. A starting third baseman as a sophomore, Longo also played football at Commack where he garnered All-League honors. He was the Suffolk County Zone Physical Education Student of the Year and was named Academic All-League in baseball.

“Chris is the true definition of a power hitter who hits from the left side, which is hard to find at this level,” Hendrickson said. “He has the potential to become a strong Division I hitter. He is penciled to be our future first baseman/DH. Just like any of the other freshmen, he is going to have to see some pitching and get acclimated to the level of play.”

Michael McKean, OF, Mendham, N.J./Randolph High School

McKean was a member of the 2007 Randolph team that went 23-8 and advanced to the Group 4 state finals. As a junior, McKean hit .450 with a pair of homers while driving in 30 runs. He scored 34 runs and swiped 17 bases. McKean posted a .530 on-base percentage and walked 23 times. He had multiple-hit games on six occasions last year, including a 4-for-5 performance against Roxbury when he drove in four runs. A nationally ranked kicker for the football team, McKean holds the school record with a 47-yard field goal and has attained All-Area plaudits for football.

“Michael is a great athlete who can probably play any of the three outfield positions, though he probably is best suited in right field,” Hendrickson said. “He is big and physical, and we think he can progress into one of our better hitters when it is all said and done. Offensively, he is probably ahead of the game for a high school senior. He has a good throwing arm, though his bat is his best tool right now.”

Michael Schrader, LHP, St. Charles, Mo./St. Charles West High School/Meramec CC

After graduating from St. Charles West High School, Schrader played one season at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., before transferring to Meramec Community College, where he will pitch next spring. In his junior and senior seasons in high school, the left-hander struck out a combined 34 batters. As a junior, he ranked seventh in the GAC North with 7.0 strikeouts per seven innings. Schrader was also strong at the plate in high school and is tied for third on St. Charles West’s career home runs chart.

“Michael is the sleeper of the group,” Hendrickson said. “He has upside written all over him, and we will all have to wait and see how he pans out. He doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt, but he has great size and above-average velocity for a left-hander at our level. He has a good shot to get it done here, and I expect him to challenge for a starting job.”

Andres Wiltz, RHP, Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep

Wiltz, who was a prep teammate of SLU freshmen Lucas Calderon and Marco Mejia, played on the 2007 Belen Jesuit squad that claimed district and regional championships and advanced to the state final four. As a junior, Wiltz posted a 5-4 record on the mound and a 3.43 ERA. He struck out 70 hitters in 47 innings of work, which included a pair of games with 10 or more Ks. Wiltz’ brother, Danny, is a senior right-handed pitcher at the University of Tennessee.

“Andres has a big frame and throws a heavy ball,” Hendrickson said. “He throws a lot of strikes and has good velocity, and he has the opportunity to contribute right away to this pitching staff.”

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