Prep Baseball Report

No. 23 JCA, Fellows Sweep Carmel

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

JOLIET, IL – The East Suburban Catholic matchup between Joliet Catholic and Carmel has long been an earmarked game between the two perennial state powers. On Saturday, though, the interest level ratcheted up significantly with the pairing of two of the Midwest’s top prospects, RHP Drake Fellows and Carmel C Cooper Johnson, going head-to-head.

With a packed house full of pro scouts in attendance, Fellows and the No. 23 Hilltoppers came away with a sloppy 10-7 victory in the first game of the conference-opening doubleheader.

Drake Fellows

Fellows, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound Vanderbilt recruit, pitched well in his 5.1 innings. He struck out eight, walked three, hit one batter, allowed three singles, three runs, none of which were earned. Fellows was impressive in the first inning, sitting 90-92 (some guns had 93) with arm-side sink, to go along with his trademark 78-82 mph slider that was especially sharp in the beginning innings. The pitch had late two-plane break and he showed the ability to throw it consistently for strikes and bury it down when he wanted.

Joliet Catholic’s defense didn’t help Fellows, either, committing three errors which contributed to three runs. A misplayed ball in centerfield in the sixth allowed two runs to score, and ultimately ended his day. Fellows also squared up a fastball deep to centerfield, which was also misplayed by Carmel’s centerfielder. Fellows legged it out to third base, dove head first into the bag, and the Carmel third baseman landed on Fellows’ leg in the third inning. Fellows also had a single and was hit by a pitch.

Cooper JohnsonAs far as the anticipated matchup between Fellows and Johnson was concerned, the hype didn’t materialize. Johnson, who’s the top-ranked 2016 prospect in Illinois and widely considered the country’s top defensive prep catcher, flew out to right field on a 91-mph fastball in his first at-bat. He then singled to right field on an 89-mph fastball, and grounded to first base on another 89-mph fastball against Fellows. In his fourth and final at-bat, facing senior RHP Jared Jones, Johnson inside-outed an 82-mph fastball through the right side, finishing 2-for-4.

The pro scouts who came to see Fellows and Johnson likely walked away with a high-follow on their 2017 list for next year: junior OF/3B KC Simonich. The long and lean 6-foot-4, 180-pound Texas Tech recruit proved why he is arguably Illinois’ top left-handed hitter in the 2017 class. Simonich went 3-for-4 with an inside-the-park home run, three RBI, three runs scored, a walk and reached base all five at-bats. Two of his hits were squared up the middle, including a back-spinned line drive to dead centerfield that kept carrying. What looked like an easy standup triple ended up being a two-run inside-the-parker, which helped the Hilltoppers pull away in part of their five-run fifth inning.

Sophomore 2B Justin Conant also shined for the Hilltoppers, reaching base four times on a pair of singles, a walk and an error. Hitting leadoff, Conant barreled the ball in all his at-bats, scored three times and drove one in. Junior DH Jack Naal contributed three hits and three RBI, and senior C Dan Devine added a pair of singles and an RBI.  

Senior SS Matt Collins led Carmel (5-3, 0-2), going 1-for-2 with a two-run home run to left field in the seventh and two walks.

In the second game of the doubleheader, JCA cruised to a 13-3 victory. Fellows collected four RBI with Simonich picking up two more RBI. Senior RHP George Manikas, a Lewis recruit, pitched a complete game. In the early innings his fastball ranged between  85-88. With the sweep, the Hilltoppers improve to 6-5 and 2-0 in conference.

More prospect details will be added to the Illinois Scout Blog later.

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