Christian Brothers College High School graduate Matt Vierling made his Major League debut in June, lining a single to right field against Giants lefty reliever Jarlin Garcia in his first at-bat.
From what I’ve observed, we’ll be seeing plenty of the Philadelphia Phillies outfielder in the future — the St. Louisan is focused on getting on base, a much-needed component in today’s game that features sluggers who strike out at alarming rates. And it’s good to know he’s from a Catholic family in St. Louis and proud graduate of Catholic schools.
He’s one of three Catholic high school graduates in the archdiocese who made their MLB debut this past season and share similar attributes.
Vierling never stopped hitting, batting .324 with a .364 on-base percentage in 71 at-bats after being called up from the Phillies’ AAA team team where he was promoted after spending time at the AA level. He batted .345 with six doubles and six homers in 102 plate appearances in AA and went 5-for-12 in three AAA games.
Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (but not signed) in the 30th round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft, he attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, after showing his promising skills at CBC. The Phillies nabbed him in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Mason Horne, baseball coach at CBC, called Vierling “a great human being, a great athlete” and “a testament to his family.” He hasn’t changed since he was a 15-year-old with a genuine smile and positive attitude, Horne said: “We’re super excited and proud of the man he’s become.”
Vierling was involved in student government and a leader on the baseball program, mostly through example, the CBC coach said.
The talented baseball player also was true to the foundation of CBC, Horne added. “We’re here to honor God first. It’s God, family, school, then baseball. Our relationship with God helps us on the field. God has a plan, and we can rely on God’s presence in everything we do.”
CBC also had another former player make his debut in the Major Leagues this year — Jake Burger. Picked by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 2017 draft, the 11th pick overall, Burger made his debut with the Sox July 2, getting two hits in four at-bats. He hit .263 with a .333 on-base percentage in limited time. He returned to the minors when the team needed to make room for Eloy Jimenez’s return from the injured list, then Burger suffered a hand injury. He was recalled to the team after his recovery.
Burger’s success is noteworthy for his ability to rebound and refusal to quit after a series of career-threatening injuries. It’s an attribute to admire.
“It’s great to see him back healthy, having fun and getting to the big leagues,” Horne said. “Everything I said about Matt (Vierling) I can say about Jake. He led by example, and I’m proud whether they are baseball players or not. I feel like a proud papa to have two kids reach their ultimate goal.”
Burger, who attended Missouri State University, also was in student leadership at CBC.
Nick Allgeyer, a St. John Vianney High School graduate, also made his debut this year, pitching a perfect inning for the Toronto Blue Jays July 2.
Allgeyer attended the University of Iowa and was drafted in 2018 in the 12th round.
Terry Cochran, athletic director at Vianney, said he remembers the lefthanded pitcher as a gifted athlete. But what stood out was his belief in himself and his determination to be better. “He’s a driven individual,” he added.
The coach at Iowa said Allgeyer is confident, competitive, hard-working and focused on improving. “Nobody’s going to outwork Nick Allgeyer,” Heller said.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.