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Aurora West grad invited to spring training

Never was this more apparent than when they traded three pitching prospects to the Yankees for slugger Gary Sheffield.

Aurora West High School Blackhawks

West Aurora graduate Preston Larrison is among the plethora of strong, young arms in the Detroit organization. Even after the aforementioned trade and the subsequent loss of another key reliever, the Tigers remain armed and dangerous.

Preston is currently on the 40-man roster and has earned an invitation to Major League camp this spring.

According to the Tigers’ Assistant General Manager Al Avila, Preston is among 25 or 26 pitchers competing for spots on the Tiger staff, with most already having been filled. He believes that Preston needs to work on his consistency and command of pitches.

“If he has his best slider and hard sinker working he can get major league hitters out,” Avila said.

Keeping his pitches down in the strike zone is essential.


Larrison focused on the big picture while pitching for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League this past year. He realized that the league favored hitters.

“I don’t care about my numbers here,” Larrison said. “I am here to work on my slider, even in situations where I would ordinarily throw my sinker.”

Pitchers in the AFL typically get sporadic work and have difficulty developing a rhythm.

After leaving West Aurora, the tall, right-handed pitcher succeeded at Evansville University going 15-8 in 33 games, while striking out 176 batters in 186 innings. The Tigers selected him in the 2nd round (55th overall pick) in the 2001 draft.

To date, Larrison has pitched in 124 games in the minors, starting 103 times going 30-40 with an era of 3.77, despite missing much of 2005 with Tommy John surgery.

He began 2006 in Erie of the Eastern League, with a record of 4-10. He had a 3.92 earned run average and 15 of his 26 appearances came out of the bullpen.

He assessed his season in Erie saying that, “It was successful, each time out there — my goal was to keep my focus and keep the team in the game.”

While his move to the bullpen was difficult initially, he settled in rather well, as he was called up to AAA Toledo.

As the Tigers were vying for the AL Central title, the Mud Hens were in a pennant race of their own and the need for strong arms was equally important. Being part of a pennant race and being closer to the Tigers’ run seemed to reinvigorate Larrison. He seized the opportunity by pitching in significant games for the Hens.

After spending parts of three seasons in Erie he was excited about his Toledo experience saying, “It was awesome, I pitched real well in situations that they put me in, no blowout games.”


Going 1-0 with a 1.74 era in six games out of the bullpen, his stock in the organization rose mightily. This positive experience reinforced the idea that he would be better off pitching out of the bullpen.

Larrison and his teammates were able to keep tabs on the Tigers’ run as the games were always on in the clubhouse. Furthermore, Mud Hens teammates Brett Cleven and Jordan Tata had vested interests, as they played for Detroit and would share in the Tiger booty had they won the World Series. The 26 year-old Midwesterner loved Toledo, the ballpark and the fans.

While his sights are clearly on a spot on the Tiger roster, he believes that he holds his future in his hands. As a Rule 5 player, one of three things must happen after spring training. The Tigers must keep him on their 25-man roster, they must trade him to another major league team or release him.

That being said, he had other more mundane things on his mind this offseason, like attending a couple weddings, visiting a buddy in Florida, going to the Bears-Packers game, all while working out. Given his strong work ethic, he may be facing off against his favorite player, Roger Clemens, this year.

T.F. South High School Baseball Coaches Clinic

South Athletic Booster Club, will host an instructional clinic for baseball coaches featuring speakers from six different college programs and headlined by Detroit Tigers outfielder and 1999 T.F.

South alumnus Curtis Granderson.
The speaker sessions will begin at 8:45 a.m. and run through 3:30 p.m. The doors will open at 8:00 a.m.

The goal of the clinic is to assist amateur baseball coaches from youth leagues through high school in better educating their players on various aspects of baseball and to begin preparations for the upcoming 2007 season.

Included in the speaker sessions will be drills coaches can utilize to better prepare their players. Each speaker will also be available after his session for a question and answer period. With these objectives in mind, T.F. South High School is excited to announce the following speaker lineup:

Curtis Granderson (Detroit Tigers)

Former T.F. South and UIC alumnus has solidified himself as one of the rising stars in professional baseball.CJ’s hard work in high school, college, and now the professional ranks continues to make him a standout in the game of baseball. 

Dan DeCaprio (Lewis University)

Coach DeCaprio has spent 24 seasons as the Flyers pitching coach contributing to 791 victories during this tenure.Coach DeCaprio also has international coaching experience, the most recent being as head coach of the U.S. team in the 2006 Barcelona Open. Coach DeCaprio spent the 2003 season as a coach with the Joliet Jackhammers.


Mike Dee (UIC)

 Coach Dee has spent the last 7 seasons establishing UIC baseball as a nationally recognized program. Coach Dee has led the Flames to 30 victories in each of the last 6 seasons.

Coach Dee spent 11 seasons as pitching coach for the Minnesota Golden Gophers prior to coming home to Chicago. Coach Dee attended the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse where he was an NAIA All-American his junior and senior year.Coach Dee has 44 former players who have gone on to professional careers.

Stan Hyman (Western Illinois University)

Coach Hyman is entering his 5th season as the Leathernecks head coach.He was the 1st coach in Leatherneck history to be named Mid-Continent Baseball Coach of the Year. Coach Hyman earned Coach of the Year honors 2 other times leading Rutgers University at Newark and Albright (PA) College to prominence.Coach Hyman has 14 former players who have reached the professional level.

Bob Landi (St. Francis University)

Coach Landi enters his 4th season as a member of the Fighting Saints coaching staff.Coach Landi was an honorable mention all-American and co-captain of Lewis University’s 1974 NAIA national championship baseball team. Coach Landi, who serves as hitting and infield coach for the Fighting Saints, is also the associate head coach under the legendary Gordie Gillespie.

Brian Michalak (North Central College)

Coach Michalak enters his 5th season as head baseball coach at North Central in Naperville, IL. Coach Michalak has led his teams to the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Tournament in 3 of his last 4 seasons. Prior to North Central, Coach Michalak served as an assistant baseball coach at Lewis University for 10 years. He played 4 seasons for Coach Gordie Gillespie at St. Francis University.

Steve Ruzich (South Suburban College)

Coach Ruzich enters his 21st season as head baseball coach of the Bulldogs. He has compiled a record of 737 wins and 398 losses. Under Coach Ruzich in 2006, the Bulldogs were 51 and 12, won 35 games in a row, a regional and sectional championship, and a trip to the JUCO World Series.Under the guidance of Coach Ruzich, 16 players have gone on to professional baseball and 151 others have continued on to 4-year college programs.

Minooka reaches Elite Eight

Minooka defeated Marist 8-5 in the Super-Sectional Matchup at Crestwood’s (Hawkinson Ford Field). Minooka sent a message early on, taking advantage of the first of five Marist errors in the bottom of the first inning to lead 2-0. Minooka senior third baseman Ryan Voitik reached on an error and senior shortstop Cole Tyrell hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Cleanup man Tony Wellner ripped a double into the left-field corner to drive in the first run, and senior Tom Cerven singled Wellner in.

Marist got within 2-1 in the second, scoring a run on a hit batsman, balk, groundout and infield hit, and tied it in the third. Minooka senior shortstop Cole Tyrell had a chance to covert an inning-ending double play but the ball stayed down and went under his glove for an error as the runner scored.

The Marist RedHawks were left with runners on first and third, but Minooka’s sophomore ace Tony Bucciferro stepped up, striking out the No. 4 and 5 hitters. And on the second strikeout, the Marist runner, who had broken from first on the pitch, was called out because the batter interfered with Cerven’s throw to second.

That totally unconventional double play inspired the Minooka Indians’ offense to the tune of a three-run third inning, although three more Marist errors did not hurt, either. Voitik started the uprising with a single, and after that it was a matter of putting the ball in play and forcing the RedHawks to make plays.

Two runs scored when Brian Shriner’s potential inning-ending double-play grounder, a hot shot, went through the second baseman and another scored on an errant pickoff attempt.

Joe Zenawick opened the Marist fourth with a single and Bucciferro picked him off. That would become huge because the next four hitters reached on a single, walk, error and RBI walk to make it 5-3 and leave the bases loaded with one out.

But a fielder’s choice on a groundball from third baseman Voitik to catcher Cerven and another fielder’s choice on a groundball to second baseman Andrew Trepel ended the threat.

Minooka added two runs in the fifth as Cerven reached on a fielder’s choice and took second on a throwing error. With two outs, Trepel smoked an RBI double to left and Mike Smania singled to right-center field to knock in Trepel. Schwerha, who had two hits earlier, including a double, then drew a walk before the inning ended.

Marist tried one more time to get back in it in the sixth. A walk, bunt single and RBI single to open the inning made it 7-4 and left runners on first and second. Greg Gieselmann grounded the ball up the middle and this time, Tyrell made a tough play look easy and threw to first to complete a double play.

Marist’s Tyler Newsome then doubled high off the right-field fence to drive in a run and make it 7-5, but Jarka got the final out on a popup.

Minooka’s Cole Tyrell doubled in the sixth and advanced with heads-up baserunning on a short wild pitch. Wellner, who had two hits earlier, drew a walk and Cerven laid down a suicide squeeze as Tyrell scored the game’s final run.

Minooka’s senior Tom Cerven has been lights out of late as the closer. But just in case, Tyrell threw a few warmup pitches in the bullpen while Minooka finished hitting in the sixth.

He wasn’t needed as Cerven issued a two-out walk but then got Dennis Marshall on a grounder to first baseman Schwerha, who flipped to Cerven covering

Minooka (31-7) has won 14 straight and will challenge Rockford Boylan, a 2-1 winner over Cary-Grove, in Friday’s fourth quarterfinal at 7 p.m. at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva.

Illinois High Schools Score at Baseball Draft

Major League Baseball draft could have been a high school graduation ceremony. Of the first 60 picks on June 7-8th, 31 went to students that had not yet donned a college baseball uniform, making scouts call this one of the deepest pools of high school talent in recent memory.

Of the over 400 high school students that heard their names announced, (out of 1453), 18 came from Illinois.

This was the 5th highest total of the 50 U.S. states. Only California, with 78 high school draftees, Florida (55), Texas (34), and Georgia, (21) had more high school students drafted than Illinois.

Also in the top ten were Arizona and Washington state (17), New Jersey (13), and North Carolina and Alabama (10).


There were as many high school students as there were college students drafted out of Illinois, and three of those high schoolers, Jake Smolinski, T.J. McFarland, and Casey Crosby, went in the first five rounds.

As of July 30th, three of those 18 have signed contracts; Jake Smolinski, with the Washington Nationals, Butch Biela, with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kyle Ayers, with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Another five of them were picked by Illinois “local” teams. Three by the Chicago White Sox (Grant Monroe, John Flanagan, and John Grim), one by the Chicago Cubs (Carlos Rivera), and one by the St. Louis Cardinals (Brett Zawacki).

Below is a complete list of the Illinois high school students taken in the 2007 draft, including their position in the draft, their position on the field, and the team that drafted them. Only players selected in the first five rounds are profiled, the rest are listed with their draft information.

The 2007 Illinois high school baseball Draft Class
(Italics indicates signed contract as of July 30th)

Jake Smolinski 3b: Boylan Catholic High School, Rockford, IL
6th pick of the 2nd round, 70th overall, to the Washington Nationals

The 6-0, 180 pound third baseman was also a quarterback on the Boylan Catholic football team during his high school career. He had committed to Clemson, but signed a contract with the Nationals after he was drafted, and could opt to go into the minor leagues. He was RISE magazine’s Gatorade player of the year for the 2006-2007 season. Boylan baseball head coach Paul Heitkamp said that Smolinksi “has all the tools you look for in an elite player. He posted a .531 batting average in the regular season in 2007, with a .642 on base percentage, and a whopping .894 slugging percentage.

T.J. McFarland LHP: Stagg High School, Palos Heights, IL
13th pick of the 4th round, 137th overall, to the Cleveland Indians

Listed at 6-3, 190 pounds on the draft database, McFarland finished his senior season with a 7-3 record as a starting pitcher, and staff ace of the Stagg HS Chargers. His contributions on the mound and at the plate led Daily Southtown correspondent Tim O’Reilly to say that “perhaps there is no high school baseball player in the area that means more to his team” than McFarland. Stagg coach Matt O’Neil told the Daily Southtown that he told his players “playing with him is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.” He can throw 91-92 consistently. It is indicated on the database that he has committed to Missouri in the fall, but still “figures to be sign-able.”

Casey Crosby LHP: Kaneland High School, Maple Park, IL
27th pick of the 5th round, 181st overall, to the Detroit Tigers

Also a high school football star, the 6-5, 200 pound left-hander has a commitment to play at the University of Illinois in the fall, and has not yet signed a contract. After recovering from a torn meniscus his sophomore year, Crosby increased his velocity into the low 90s, and made a strong showing at the Plainfield South high school baseball showcase in front of scouts and college coaches. He was Prep Baseball Report’s #1 ranked Illinois prospect for 2007.

Cody Scarpetta RHP: Guilford High School, Rockford, IL
7th pick of the 11th round, 341st overall, to the Milwaukee Brewers

Brett Zawacki RHP: LaSalle-Peru Township High School, LaSalle, IL
18th pick of the 12th round, 382nd overall, to the St. Louis Cardinals

Butch Biela C: Palatine High School, Palatine, IL
4th pick of the 13th round, 398th overall, to the Pitsburgh Pirates

Elliot Soto SS: Dundee-Crown High School, Carpentersville, IL
28th pick of the 13th round, 422nd overall, to the Minnesota Twins

Kyle Ayers RHP: Oswego High School, Oswego, IL
1st pick of the 14th round, 425th overall, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Kyle Kaminska RHP: Naperville Central High School, Naperville, IL
12th pick of the 25th round, 766th overall, to the Florida Marlins

John Flanagan LHP: Belleville High School, Belleville, IL
25th pick of 30th round, 929th overall, to the Chicago White Sox

Grant Monroe RHP: Schaumburg High School, Schaumburg, IL
23rd pick of the 38th round, 1158th overall, to the Chicago White Sox

Elliott Armstrong OF: Harlan Community High School, Chicago, IL
14th pick of the 39th round, 1177th overall, to the Atlanta Braves

John Grim 1b: John Hersey High School, Arlington Heights, Ill.
22nd pick of the 44th round. 1317th overall, to the Chicago White Sox

John Williams 3b: Niles North High School, Skokie, IL
22nd pick of the 46th round, 1367th overall, to the Minnesota Twins

Seth Blair RHP: Rock Falls High School, Rock Falls, IL
20th pick of 47th round, 1388th overall, to the Oakland Athletics

Carlos Rivera OF: East Aurora High School, Aurora IL
3rd pick of the 48th round, 1393rd overall, to the Chicago Cubs

Tyler Newsome OF: Marist High School, Chicago, IL
5th pick of the 49th round, 1416th overall, to the Baltimore Orioles

Paul Zarlengo 1b: Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, IL
15th pick of the 50th round, 1447th overall to the Texas Rangers

Caliendo Sports International announces the appointment of President

Caliendo Sports International announces the appointment of President Peter M. Caliendo to the Pan Am Games in Rio, Brazil and the Pre Olympics in Beijing, China.

Mr. Caliendo will be assigned as a Technical Commissioner which will govern the games for COPABE. This assignment consists of over seeing the baseball operations from start to finish.

Along with that assignment, the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), who governs baseball worldwide, has assigned him as the Director of the Technical Commissioners for the 2007 Pre-Olympics to be held August 18-25, 2007 in Beijing China.

The Pre Olympics are trail runs for the 2008 Olympics.
Peter Caliendo has been with the IBAF official for over 4 years, appointed by USA Baseball the governing body of amateur baseball in the USA and has trained players and coaches all over the world for over 25 years.

A Hoffman Estates resident, he is also the President of the Pitch and Hit club a professional baseball club in the Chicago area which promotes individuals in professional baseball by hosting an annual awards dinner with over 1000 people in attendance. The club also raises money for scholarships.

As President of Caliendo Sports International he trains coaches all over the world which includes the development of a baseball certification program for volunteers in the USA. Along with that Caliendo Sports takes teams all over the world for competition.

“It is a thrill for me to be appointed to both of these international events because of my love for international baseball”. Peter M. Caliendo.

Northern Illinois University Baseball Leadoff Banquet

DeKALB, Ill. * Former Major Leaguer John Cangelosi will be the keynote speaker at the annual Northern Illinois University Baseball Leadoff Banquet, to be held Saturday, Feb. 10 at The Stratford Inn in Sycamore.

Cangelosi, who played 13 years in the Majors for seven teams, currently runs the Cangelosi Baseball Academy for high school students. He began his career in 1986 with the Chicago White Sox and set an American League rookie record with 51 stolen bases. Cangelosi also was a member of the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, a year in which he also became the franchise’s first position player to pitch during a game. In his career, Cangelosi played over 1,000 games and stole 154 bases.

Head coach Ed Mathey will honor the 2006 Huskie team with presentations of the Most Valuable Player, Pitcher of the Year, Top Newcomer, Top Dawg, Most Improved and All-Time Hit Leader awards. Afterwards, Mathey will provide a preview of the upcoming 2007 season.

Tickets are available for $55 by calling the Huskie Baseball Office at (815) 753-0147 by Feb. 5 and include dinner, the keynote address by Cangelosi, and entertainment by comedian John DaCosse. In addition, a silent auction featuring professional sports memorabilia is included in the evening’s festivities.

The Leadoff Banquet will run from 4-8 p.m. with social hour from 4-5:30 p.m. and dinner beginning around 5:45 p.m. Following the event, friends and alumni are invited to an informal post-banquet gathering at P.J.’s Courthouse in Sycamore.

NIU opens its baseball season on Feb. 23 at Texas Tech.

National high school tournament? Sure, why not?

Baseball at the high school level follows the same script as every other high school sport; every team progresses through a regular season, then competes in a regional-type tournament.

Winners continue to advance until they eventually reach the state tournament, where one team will be crowned the state champion. That’s the end of it. Season’s over.

Wouldn’t even more progression to, say, a national tournament be quite intriguing? Wouldn’t you like to see how the Illinois state champion fares among the rest of the country?

The state title would still be quite an accomplishment, but competing for a national title would raise every experience to a whole new level.

Wins become more exciting. Losses become more devastating. Each hit by BBCOR bat and strikeout is that much more of a contribution. It’s a whole new ballgame.

So why isn’t there a national tournament? Little league baseball does it. Obviously college does it. Why not the middle level? Sure, there are national tournaments composed of travel teams, but that certainly isn’t as exciting as a high school tournament.

The idea is simple: each state tournament champion advances to the national tournament. It could even take place during the summer, so that it wouldn’t interfere with school. Locations with multiple diamonds do exist; play multiple games at once, all throughout the day.

Alright, so it isn’t as simple as that, but it can be done. Any and every option and solution should be explored to advance the idea.

The Legends Sports Baseball Show

Legends Sports & Events is an events company which hosts the Annual Legends Sports Baseball Show. We strive to continue the growth of youth baseball, at its grass roots, on the national level through regional conventions which are set in an educational and entertaining atmosphere. These conventions consist of a series of interactive and classroom seminars and clinics, a tradeshow, Celebrity Meet & Greets, and other additional activities.

The Baseball Show is an event filled weekend that is simultaneously educational and entertaining.

The MAX is reputed to be the third largest event venue with the ability to host trade shows, conventions, and sporting events.

The facility is situated in McCook, Illinois near the intersection of I-55 and 1st Avenue and easily accessible to most expressways as well as Chicago Midway Airport. With 130,000 square feet, the entire facility will be dedicated to The Baseball Show including the 79,000 square feet of synthetic turf where player clinics and the trade show will be located.

The Legends Sports Baseball Show consists of the following Events:

Coach/Parent Seminars are led by the best in the business. Coaches and parents are educated on all aspects of the game on and off the field including college recruitment process & scholarships, psychology of coaching, mechanics, and much more.

Youth Seminars/Clinicscreate opportunities for players to participate in a series of lectures and interactive clinics led by professional athletes. Such topics include mechanics of pitching, catching, and throwing as well as hitting, base running, substance abuse, nutritional supplementation, the college recruitment process, effective communication with coaches, and many more.

Opening Reception kicks off the weekend in a casual yet intimate environment. The reception is a great opportunity for autographs and pictures with all celebrities and clinicians in a relaxing environment over appetizers and beverages.

The Tradeshow creates opportunities for coaches, parents, and players to view and purchase the newest in equipment and technology in the baseball industry

Meet and Greets are an additional exciting event which takes place throughout the weekend. It’s an opportunity for coaches, players, and fans to obtain autographs and pictures of their favorite celebrities at the show.

Introduction about types of bats Manufacturers will introduce their new model of bats. This year they bring to the show a lot of bats included drop 3 bats, drop 5 bats, BBCOR baseball bats… Especially, this year will have an exception that they also bring senior softball bats to join the show. This is quite strange but this is the good chance to show their great products to the baseball and softball community.

The Legends Sports Community Outreach Program

The Legends Outreach Program is a unique program designed for companies and advertisers to assist in providing funding for training, development, and opportunities for young athletes, coaches, and programs within underprivileged communities.

Eligibility will be determined by a variety of criteria including economic need, educational progress, and social impact. The program will afford the underprivileged with opportunities not otherwise available to themselves.

In 2005 The Legends Sports provided 250 underprivileged athletes and 50 coaches from The Chicago Public Schools with professional training, and 300 athletes and 50 coaches in 2006. Ronnie Chester of Harlan Community Academy HS was the 2006 college scholarship recipient.

This year the goal is to provide 500 athletes and 200 coaches from the Chicago Public Schools and other underprivileged areas and to increase the value of the scholarship awarded.

Mission of The Legends Sports Community Outreach Program:

  • Provide coaches with advanced professional training
  • Provide professional training and development for youth and youth programs
  • Provide appropriate resources necessary to supply quality equipment and field improvements
  • Provide educational scholarships associated with athletes’ academic and behavioral progress
  • Provide the underprivileged with other advanced opportunities

The Legends Sports Community Outreach Program Targets:

  • Inner city of Chicago youth and associated programs
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Other underprivileged cities, programs, and youth within Illinois