Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 2 Brother Rice

By: Peter Hamot
Area Scout

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on March 14, opening day for regular season action under IHSA regulations. Over the next two weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2022 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down through the official PBR Illinois Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.

Our 2022 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Brother Rice
Preseason Rank: No. 2
2021 Record: 29-11
Conference: Chicago Catholic League - Blue
IHSA Class: 4A 
Head Coach: Sean McBride

Roster Preview

Will Flanigan OF 2022 Iowa Western CC
Beau Polickey  INF 2022 Heartland CC
Jack Lausch  OF/RHP 2022 Northwestern
Connor Mahay INF 2022 -
Andrew Ivy Jr.  OF 2022 -
Vince Arunno INF 2022 -
Nick Daugherty OF/RHP 2022 Maryville
TJ Petrowski INF 2022 -
Christian Holmes MIF 2022 Kansas State
Jacob Fenton RHP 2022 Loras College
Dylan Warda LHP 2022 -
Henry Boyer  RHP/INF 2022 -
Thomas Verran INF 2022 -
Zion Rose C 2023 Louisville
Sean Sullivan  INF 2023 -
Josh Sutker LHP 2023 -
Bryce Nevils C/OF 2023 -
Matt Spell INF 2023 -
Amir Gray CIF 2023 Purdue
Cole Van Assen RHP 2023 -
Trent Guzek RHP 2023 -
Brendan Arnold INF 2023 -
Danny Durkin INF 2023 -
Jack Gilmartin RHP 2023 -
Danny Grannes RHP 2023 -
Joaquin Huerta INF 2023 -
Connor Lyons INF 2023 -
Myles Maloney LHP 2023 -
Aiden O'Hara RHP 2023 -
Chris Daugherty OF/INF 2024 -
Casey Giemzik RHP 2024 -

Key Players Lost 

+ INF Luke Lawrence (Webster; 2021)
+ OF Cameron Hill (Purdue; 2021)
+ INF Nick Cipriani (2021)
+ RHP Arturo Mora (Triton; 2021)
+ RHP Ben Guzek (Maryville; 2021)
+ RHP Sebastian Barrera (Webster; 2021)
+ LHP Mike Bernas (Saint Leo; 2021) 

Newcomer to watch


+ RHP Casey Giemzik (2024)Giemzik is a talented right-hander with a power arm that should see a noteworthy amount of time for the Crusaders this coming spring. Giemzik has a mature presence on the mound,  boasting a 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame with a heavy fastball that works up to 87 mph. He also possesses both a curveball and cutter/slider combination that he will use to pair off his fastball, as well as a fading changeup. His four-pitch mix along with high-end velocity should make for an uncomfortable at-bat for any opposing hitters.



OF/RHP Jack Lausch (2022; Northwestern commit): Lausch is undeniably one of the premier two-sport athletes in the state. The standout quarterback is committed to play football at Northwestern, while also coming in at No. 6 overall in the state for baseball. Lausch missed a portion of last year’s season due to his football season, and joined the Crusaders later on in the year. Ultimately, Lausch never quite found his rhythm like he would have hoped, although he still put together a strong season, finishing with a .270 batting average and two home runs. We can expect this year to be much different though, since Lausch will be with the team for the entire season and have more time to prepare for the season properly, not having to worry about the congested football/baseball schedule he dealt with last year. Lausch is extremely talented and will bring the Crusaders plenty of firepower in the lineup, boasting one of the premier left-handed swings in the entire state. He also will provide top tier defense behind whoever takes the mound, gliding around the outfield with long/athletic strides on top of his easy reads off the bat. If Lausch finds his groove like we expect him to in 2022, he will most definitely be in the running for the Player of the Year when it's all said and done. 


It is hard to find a team in the state that replicates the amount of talent Brother Rice possesses throughout the entirety of their lineup. The Crusaders’ starting nine runs out five Division-I commits on a daily basis, along with two high-level junior college commits and a number of other players that possess collegiate level skill-sets. Their offense stands out instantly on paper and will surely contribute to their overall success this coming season. 

Christian Holmes (1/29/22)

MIF Christian Holmes (2022; Kansas State) will be making his debut in a Brother Rice uniform this spring after transferring from De La Salle, and will certainly be a key piece in the lineup moving forward. The Kansas State commit already is looking as-advertised in 2022 - putting together an impressive all-around performance at the Preseason ProCase back in January. His report from that event:

"6-foot-2, 190-pounds; athletic, well-proportioned, high-level frame; has grown a few inches since we last saw him. Quiet in the box, tall setup, controlled load and stays in sync, excellent balance and rhythm throughout. Loose athletic hands, level path to contact with gap-to-gap leverage and repeats. Natural feel for the barrel, consistently made hard contact. Looks to be even more power to tap into given projectability in frame, ability to elevate, and barrel feel. Defensively, impressed despite still not being 100% coming off a leg injury that he dealt with throughout 2021. Showed the same instincts on the infield that we’ve seen from him for some time now. Athletic feet with present body control, soft hands that work out front of body, smooth glove-to-hand funnels, comfortable on the move. Short loose arm action that works out of a high ¾ slot and topped at 90 across the infield. Easily one of the day’s biggest winners and a name-to-know heading into the spring season for the Crusaders."

Joining Holmes up the middle of the infield will likely be 2B Beau Polickey (2022; Heartland CC). He will provide a reliable hand at second base and bring his senior experience along with him - helping to  lead the significant number of juniors and underclassmen in the group.

Zion Rose (7/1/21)

C Zion Rose (2023; Louisville) has long been regarded as one of the top catchers in the ‘23 class, and returns to the Crusaders this year with a considerable amount of varsity experience as only a junior. The Louisville commit hit his way to a .383 batting average on top of two home runs, 32 runs scored and 19 stolen bases last season, and will be looking to top those numbers in 2022. Rose provides the Crusaders offense with a unique power/speed combination that will be sure to play a key part in the heart of their lineup. He brings more than just a talented bat to the table though – possessing one of the more impressive catching skill-sets in the state which will surely help limit the run game against them. If Rose finds his stride early on, he could certainly make a charge for Player of the Year along with the aforementioned Lausch.

William Flanigan (3/20/21)

3B WIlliam Flanigan (2022; Iowa Western CC) will be returning for his senior year, and provides the Crusaders with an ultra-reliable bat that has already proven to be one of the better left-handed swings in the class. He turned in a .361 batting average in 2021 along with 24 RBIs, and will certainly be a tough out thanks to his quick hands and mature bat-to-ball skills. His speed on the basepaths will also cause issues for opposing teams - swiping 16 bags last season.

A key returner for the Crusaders this year will be CIF Amir Gray (Purdue; 2023). The future Boilermaker batted just under .300 last year and provided reliable defense at first base. We can look for him to play a similar role this season in locking up the corner infield while providing the Crusaders with yet another dangerous bat from the left side. 

Bryce Nevils (1/29/22)

Another valuable piece that the Crusaders have at their disposal is C/OF Bryce Nevils (2023). Nevils will likely be seeing time behind the plate to back up Rose, but also will provide some athleticism from the outfield. His bat is valuable enough that even if he isn’t playing defense that day, he most likely will still be in the lineup as a designated hitter - adding a daunting right-handed bat for opposing pitchers to work around. 

Helping to round out the outfield along with Nevils and Lausch will most likely be Nick Daugherty (Maryville; 2022) and Andrew Ivy Jr. (2022). Daugherty is an athletic defender with a strong right-handed bat, and he comes off a strong offensive year in 2021 where he turned in a .298 batting average with three home runs and 27 RBIs. Ivy Jr. on the other hand provides athletic actions and a quick first step, along with yet another left-handed swing to the Crusaders’ lineup. 

Cole Van Assen (7/28/21)

Returning to the pitching staff in 2022 is RHP Cole Van Assen (2023). The right-hander had a strong 2021 season as just a sophomore, turning in a 2.76 ERA on top of 25.1 innings pitched and 25 strikeouts. Van Assen will be a highly valuable piece in the Crusaders’ rotation, with a fastball in the mid-80s and a highly polished three-pitch mix. He also is wise beyond his years on the mound, possessing a mature mound presence with a high baseball IQ. Look for Van Assen to make some strides velocity wise this year, too. 

LHP Dylan Warda (2022) is an uncommitted southpaw that will be counted on to supply the Crusaders with a surplus of innings this spring. With a high-spinning  fastball up to 88 mph and curveball/changeup combo, Warda possesses the tools to pitch late into games and miss barrels consistently. Not to mention he's also an impressive athlete – recording a 60-time as low a 6.93 with athleticism that easily translates to the mound. 

Rounding out the rest of the rotation will be RHP Jacob Fenton (Loras; 2022), Giemzik (mentioned as our 'Newcomer'), and LHP Josh Sutker (2023). We also expect to see RHP Aiden O'Hara (2023) and  RHP Trent Guzek utilized out of the bullpen – as well as a few other aforementioned  players like Polickey, Daugherty, and Lausch. 

Bottom Line 

The Crusaders offense could very well be one of the strongest in recent memory, drawing comparisons to Mount Carmel’s star-studded  2015 lineup. There are seemingly no holes from top to bottom, and the Crusaders have the depth to swap players in and out without feeling like they are taking a slight hit in skill level. A lineup like this one is what helped shove Brother Rice all the way up to No. 2 on the preseason board, though the pitching staff doesn't feature the kind of depth or returning reliability like some of the others on the Power 25, or even inside the CCL, for that matter. If the Crusaders receive a boost from its underclassmen to help fill roles on the mound, they will be in a very good position come June, and could very well see themselves in Joliet fighting for a state title. 

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2022 season.

Find more information on the 2022 Crusaders below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter