July 23, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Six pitchers and two versatile position players will make up the class of 2018 for the University of Notre Dame baseball team head coach Mik Aoki announced Wednesday.
In a class that spans coast to coast, Aoki and his staff have brought in Major League Baseball draftees, elite state and national talent as ranked by Perfect Game and state champions among other impressive high school accolades both on and off the diamond. Two standouts each from Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey will team up with one signee each from California and Maryland.
“Every year I try to reserve judgment on the class until they get here and start playing,” said Aoki. “What you do in high school gets you to Notre Dame, but ultimately having success at Notre Dame is based on what you do here and not what you have accomplished in the past. However, all of our new players definitely have the potential to help us immediately going into 2015. Our staff is excited to get them on campus and get to work with them in the fall.”
The six-person pitching staff includes five righties and a lefty. Joining the Irish program are MLB Draftees Brad Bass (33rd Round – Cubs) and Peter Solomon (21st Round – Padres) and fellow high school standouts Brandon Bielak, Sean Guenther (LHP), Evelino Ruibal and Charlie Vorsheck.
“When we were putting together this class we knew we would be looking for pitching with Fitz (Sean Fitzgerald) and Donnie (Donnie Hissa) set to graduate and Pat (Pat Connaughton) having the potential to be a junior-year draftee,” said Aoki. “We are thrilled with the six arms we are bringing in. They feature two draftees and players that competed on some elite high school and travel ball programs. We, as a staff, believe that each pitcher has the ability to have an immediate impact on our pitching staff.”
The Irish are also bringing in two versatile fielders in Jake Johnson (OF) and Jake Shepski (IF / OF). Both were ranked in the top 15 at their position in their home state and in the top 55 prospects ranked overall by Perfect Game.
“We are excited about both Jake’s as they bring in a lot of versatility and athleticism,” said Aoki. “Both bring to the table great credentials and are from two solid high school programs. They come from HS and summer programs that compete annually for championships so they bring a winner’s mentality and they are both very gifted players.”
Since arriving on campus in 2011, Aoki has consistently developed players into true student-athletes that graduate from under the Golden Dome, have a chance at professional baseball and are active in leadership programs and community service.
“It takes a special type of student and athlete to come to Notre Dame and we think we found eight great fits that can help our program while they are on campus.”
2015 Freshmen Class
New Lenox, Ill. / Lincoln-Way Central
R / R
6-6 / 240
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Lincoln-Way Central High School in June 2014 … earned four letters in baseball and three in basketball … drafted in the 33rd round (979 overall) by the Chicago Cubs in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft … ranked the second best RHP in Illinois and the fifth best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 64th best RHP and the 175th best player overall by same organization … before senior season was listed as a high honorable mention preseason All-American and a first team all-Central Region performer by Perfect Game … had a 0.86 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 33 innings of work as a senior … named a second team preseason HS Underclassmen All-American by organization before junior year … also played summer baseball with the Illinois Sparks … a standout on the basketball court as well … tabbed all-conference as a junior and senior … earned a spot on the high honor roll and was named academic all-state … Bradley Alexander Bass was born in Chicago to Bill Bass and Wendy Anderson … has two older brothers, Bobby and Kyle, and a younger brother, Eric … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in business.
Sayreville, N.J. / St. Joseph
L / R
6-2 / 190
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., in May 2014 … earned four letters in baseball … ranked the fourth best RHP in New Jersey and the sixth best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 73rd best RHP and the 217th best player overall by same organization … had an ERA of 0.82 and a WHIP of 0.76 as a senior after giving up just five earned runs, 29 hits and 12 walks in 53.2 innings of work … went 8-1 and struck out 87 batters as St. Joseph went 21-9 and won the Greater Middlesex County Championship … was just as dominant at the plate as he batted .420 with 24 RBI … also sported an on-base percentage of .490 and cracked two home runs … voted by the county coaches as the Middlesex County Player of the Year and was an all-Middlesex County first teamer … also selected to the all-Red Division team and was tabbed a first team N.J. all-state selection … pitched shutout against No. 2 team in Delaware … named a Perfect Game first team preseason Northeast Region All-High School Senior performer … ranked in the top five pitchers in New Jersey and in the top 200 in the country as a junior … tabbed a Perfect Game second team preseason HS Underclassmen All-American before junior campaign … selected an all-Middlesex County and an all-Red Division player as a sophomore … named an all-Middlesex County and an all-Red Division freshman player during first year with St. Joseph … favorite high school moment was throwing a no-hitter against school rival … played summer ball with FullCount Baseball and participated in the high school’s flag football team … named MVP and helped lead flag football team to titles as a junior and senior … graduated magna cum laude and was a nominated student-athlete … also a James Volpe Fundraiser participant and a buddy at the Buddy Ball for children with autism … Brandon Michael Bielak was born in Edison, N.J., to Brian and Charlene Bielak … has an older brother, Chris, who played four years of baseball at Marist College … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in business.
Atlanta, Ga. / Marist School
L / L
5-10 / 185
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Marist School in May 2014 … earned three letters in baseball … named all-region and all-state as a senior after putting together a 1.04 ERA with 71 strikeouts … ranked the 13th best LHP in Georgia and the 132nd best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 144th best LHP by same organization … named a Perfect Game honorable mention Southeast Region All-High School Senior performer … helped lead team to the state championship game (AAAA) as a junior … also played summer baseball on the 643 DP team … was a club teammate of future Irish teammate and fellow freshman Jacob Johnson … named the team’s pitcher of the year in 2012 … named to the all-tournament team at the 2012 Perfect Game 16U WWBA and BCS tournaments … selected as an all-tournament pitcher at the 2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen tournament … participated in the Marist School Student-Athlete Leadership Training (SALT) program … was also on the honor roll, participated in the beach volleyball club and was a Homeless Ministry and Christopher League volunteer … Sean McManus Guenther was born in Atlanta, Ga., to Stuart and Margaret Guenther … has an older sister, Megan … will enroll in First Year of Studies.
Atlanta, Ga. / Westminster School
L / L
5-11 / 175
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from the Westminster School in May 2014 … earned four letters in baseball and three in football … ranked the 14th best outfielder in Georgia and the 52nd best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 124th best outfielder by the same organization … named a Perfect Game second team Southeast Region All-High School Senior performer before hitting .401 with six home runs, 31 RBI and 18 stolen bases as a senior … selected all-region (6-AA) and Georgia all-state for his efforts … selected as Westminster’s Best All-Around Male Athlete … tabbed a Perfect Game high honorable mention preseason HS Underclassmen All-American before junior campaign … backed honor up by batting .379 and earning all-region accolades in helping Westminster finish second at the class 2A state championship … selected a Perfect Game honorable mention preseason HS Underclassmen All-American before sophomore campaign and earned the team’s Coaches Award at the end of the year … also named all-region second team as a sophomore … was a wide receiver and cornerback for the Westminster football team … also played summer baseball on the 643 DP team … was a club teammate of future Irish teammate and fellow freshman Sean Guenther … selected to the 2013 and 2014 Rawlings All-Defensive Team and was also picked for the 2012 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase … participated in the National Honor Society at Westminster … Jacob Scott Johnson was born in Atlanta, Ga., to Scott and Gina Johnson … has a twin brother, Luke, that will play baseball at Butler University … will enroll in the First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in business.
Millburn, N.J. / Millburn
R / R
6-4 / 210
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Millburn High School in June 2014 … earned three letters in baseball … overcame stress fracture in L-5 (lumbar spinal nerve 5) during freshman year to return to diamond as a sophomore … ranked the sixth best RHP in New Jersey and the ninth best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 114th best RHP and the 337th best player overall by the same organization … batted .390 with 36 hits and two homers and went 8-2 with a 1.27 ERA on the mound as a senior to earn a spot on the Essex County All-Star team … earned Essex County Player of the Year honors in addition to all group 4-first team and all-state second team accolades … before the season was named a first team Perfect Game Northeast Region All-High School Senior … had breakout junior campaign by hitting .423 with three homers and 32 RBI and going 5-1 with a 1.51 ERA on the mound … named offensive player of the year for Millburn and made the Essex County All-Star team for the second time … also named first team all-area and second team all-Super Essex Conference (American Division) … tabbed a Perfect Game high honorable mention preseason HS Underclassmen All-American before junior campaign … named to the Essex County All-Star team for the first time as a sophomore after batting .390 with 30 hits and three homers and tallying a 3.26 ERA with 21 strikeouts on the mound … also played summer baseball with Baseball U … named an all-tournament pitcher at the Perfect Game WWBA in June 2013, at the Yaz Tournament in August 2013 and at the Perfect Game WWBA World Series in October 2013 … participated in Kids For Kids and was an active member of the St. Rose of Lima youth group … Evelino Adrian Ruibal was born in Livingston, N.J., to Evelino and Pamela Ruibal … has a younger sister, Alexandra … cousin, Gloria, attended Notre Dame … uncle, Stanley Dzikowicz, played football at Alfred University … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in economics.
Lockport, Ill. / St. Rita of Cascia High School
IF / OF
S / R
6-1 / 180
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from St. Rita of Cascia High School in Chicago in May 2014 … earned four letters in baseball … ranked the second best shortstop in Illinois and the 26th best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 131st best shortstop by the same organization … batted .385 with 12 doubles, seven triples, five homers, 39 runs scored and 48 RBI as a senior after earning second team Perfect Game Central Region All-High School Senior honors during the preseason … also went 7-2 with a 1.75 ERA and eight saves on the bump … named all-area and all-state by the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association … also named first team all-area by the Chicago Sun-Times, was an all-Catholic League selection and received the Catholic League Tony Lawless Award … helped lead squad to the Illinois Summer State Baseball Championship as a junior after hitting .314 with 35 hits and a homer … selected to the IHSBCA Summer State all-tournament team and earned the Lawler Award … tabbed a Perfect Game high honorable mention preseason HS Underclassmen All-American before campaign … batted .386 with 45 hits and a homer as a sophomore … named all-conference and all-area … opened career on the sophomore team as a freshman and batted .469 with 30 hits and two homers … earned a spot on the Gold Honor Roll at St. Rita and was also honored as the Mustang of the Month … Jacob Matthew Shepski was born in Downers Grove, Ill., to Steve and Dee Shepski … has three younger brothers, Mike, Luke and Jack … father, Steve, played baseball at North Central College … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in business.
Ellicott City, Md.
R / R
6-4 / 185
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, Md., in June 2014 … earned four letters in baseball … drafted in the 21st round (627 overall) by the San Diego Padres in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft … named by Baseball America as the No. 261 MLB draft prospect (No. 1 HS pitcher in Maryland; No. 44 HS RHP nationally) … ranked the second best RHP in Maryland and the seventh best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 156th best RHP and the 470th best player overall by same organization … named first team all-metro by the Baltimore Sun as a junior and senior … also named first team MIAA `A’ Conference and MSABC District 10 during same two seasons … selected as a first team Perfect Game Atlantic Region All-High School Senior prior to the start of final high school campaign … selected as a MSABC pre-season all-state selection prior to senior year … named MVP of President’s Cup Showcase at Camden Yards … selected for the Mid-Atlantic Baseball Classic … selected to Brooks Robinson All-Star game at Camden Yards and was named team MVP pitcher for game … had a 1.76 ERA in 53 innings of work … struck out 85 batters and hurled four complete-game shutouts … boasted a streak of 29 consecutive shutout innings recorded … earned high honorable mention honors by Perfect Game in its Preseason HS Underclassmen All-American listing heading into junior year … tabbed an all-USA Today Maryland Selection … named the Jack Conley Tournament MVP … tabbed as the Extra Innings Player of the Week and the Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Week in back-to-back weeks … hurled two complete games … named to MSABC Classic & Junior Classic … ranked as the No. 2 pitcher by Perfect Game in Maryland … threw 52 innings and posted a 2.66 ERA while striking out 70 batters in third year … ranked as the No. 4 pitcher by Perfect Game in Maryland as a sophomore … tabbed as a top-500 2014 prospect by same organization … named to MSABC Junior Classic team after year … won the Top Arm Award (88 mph) at 2012 Crab Claw Classic … named JV team MVP as freshman … also played summer baseball with the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox, the Orioles Scout Team and Team Maryland … named to the all-tournament team at the Heartland Classic in 2013 and the WWBA Perfect Game World Series in 2012 … off the field was a My Brother’s Keeper volunteer and a youth baseball mentor and coach … Peter Joseph Solomon was born in Washington, D.C., to Michael and Kathleen Solomon … has an older sister, Laura, and an older brother, Thomas … brother, Thomas, is a LHP at Johns Hopkins University and will be a senior in 2015 … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in business.
Laguna Hills, Calif.
6-4 / 205
PREP & PERSONAL: Graduated from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., in May 2014 … earned four letters in baseball … ranked the 26th best RHP in California and the 80th best overall player by Perfect Game after senior year … nationally, was tabbed the 195th best RHP by same organization … selected as an honorable mention Perfect Game California Region All-High School Senior prior to the start of final high school campaign … pitched 69.2 innings as a senior and tallied a 1.57 ERA with 61 strikeouts … hurled five complete games out of 11 starts as the squad’s No. 1 pitcher … named all-league and was selected to the North-South County All-Star game … earned high honorable mention honors by Perfect Game in its Preseason HS Underclassmen All-American listing heading into junior year … went 5-1 with a 2.20 ERA during third year … struck out 21 batters in 28.2 innings of work … helped team win league and NHSI championships … team was ranked No. 1 in the country for much of the year, finishing No. 13 after going 25-3 … earned a complete-game win (had no-hitter through four innings) against No. 1 The Woodlands of Texas … also helped squad win the inaugural Boras Classic, which is a state-wide tournament in California … saw first varsity action as a sophomore and went 5-1 with a 4.76 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 32.1 innings of work … was the JV team captain as a freshman and helped lead squad to league championship … named league pitcher of the year … called up to varsity squad mid-season and pitched nine innings in first campaign … helped Mater Dei win both the first and second National High School Invitational Tournaments at the USA Baseball National Team Complex in Cary, N.C. … played summer baseball with the ASD Bulldogs in addition to the Yankees, A’s and Marlins scout teams … tabbed to the all-tournament team at the 2013 Perfect Game WWBA World Championship … off the diamond participated in the National Honor Society and Red Cross … Charles O’Toole Vorsheck was born in Laguna Hills, Calif., to John and O’Toole Vorsheck … has two older brothers, John and Tommy … dad, John, played baseball at Ohio State and brother, John, played football at Arizona … father’s Ohio State team was last Buckeye squad to advance to the College World Series (pitcher from 1967-69) … will enroll in First Year of Studies … interested in majoring in finance.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director