Bulldogs Add 4 Talented Players During Early Period

INDIANAPOLIS - The Butler baseball program has signed Nick Bartolone, Chris Marras, Nick Saldutti and Drew Small to National Letters of Intent. The four standouts will join the Bulldogs in the fall of 2012.

Head coach Steve Farley and his staff announced the four-player class, which consists of three Indiana players and one Chicago-area player.

Bartolone, from West Lafayette, Ind., is a left-handed outfielder from Harrison High School. He holds school records for putouts and chances and will soon become the school's all-time leader in putouts. He received all-conference mention as a sophomore and junior and led his team in batting average while also earning an award for fielding. He was selected his team's rookie of the year as a freshman in 2009.

Bartolone is also a football standout at Harrison, playing quarterback and kicker. He owns school records for PATs in a game and for passing touchdowns in a game. He played summer baseball for the Indiana Bulls.

"Nick has gap power from the left side of the plate and he is a solid runner with a good throwing arm," Farley said. "He'll compete right away next fall for a corner outfield position. He's a good athlete and he is going to get bigger and stronger in our program. He will have a great chance to take his game to the next level."

Marras, a catcher from Vernon Hills, Ill., signed with the Bulldogs after a standout spring at VHHS and summer with Top Tier in Illinois. He is a two-time all-conference player and was named Daily Herald All-Area as well as Pioneer Press Player of the Year. He was also named All-Lake Shore. He was selected as Team MVP and team captain as a junior in 2011.

Current Bulldog pitcher Brad Schnitzer also played at Vernon Hills in suburban Chicago. A host of Butler players played for Top Tier.

"Chris will have a good situation next year. He'll be able to compete with our two fifth-year seniors, Radley Haddad and Nick Hladek and learn the ropes without having pressure right away," Farley said. "He'll be our heir apparent behind the dish in the years to come. Chris has a very solid throwing arm, he blocks the ball well and he's a good hitter from the right side of the plate. Like all of our early signees, he comes from a great family and he is a very good student in the classroom."

Saldutti is a power-hitting first baseman from Westfield High School in Westfield, Ind. He was an all-conference and All-North Baseball Team honorable mention honoree. He played in the 2011 Indiana All-State Crossroad Series at the US Steelyard in Gary, Ind. Playing for the Indiana NorthStars during the 2011 summer season, Saldutti batted .477 with a .571 on-base percentage.

"Nick had an excellent summer and just kept getting better every game," Farley said. "At the Crossroads Showcase held last June at the expansive pro park in Gary, Ind., he was the only hitter out of about 80 guys to launch a home run over the fence. He plays a solid first base and he has big-time power potential from the left side of the plate. He's going to continue to get bigger and stronger in our program and he'll have a good opportunity to be our first baseman for the future."

Small, a versatile infielder/outfielder, is an all-conference standout from nearby Zionsville, Ind. He was all-state honorable mention and led ZHS to a conference championship as a junior in 2011. Small plays high school ball for former Butler baseball player John Zangrilli, who calls Small one of the best players he has ever coached.

"Drew comes from a great family and he is a very fundamentally sound baseball player," Farley said. "He has a tremendous work ethic and he makes the guys around him better. He's a line-drive hitter with good foot speed and a solid throwing arm. He'll compete right away for a spot in our outfield next year."

The Bulldogs, who won 23 games last season, open the 2012 season Feb. 17-19 at Fresno State.