Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 19 New Trier
March 8, 2022
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: New Trier
Preseason Rank: 19
2021 Record: 25-13
Conference: Central Suburban League
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Mike Napoleon
|Graham Mastros||3B||2023||Saint Louis|
|Brenden Stressler||OF||2023||Saint Louis|
KEY PLAYERS LOST
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
+ James Novakovic, INF (2024): Novakovic is one of two sophomores listed on the varsity roster. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound prospect is a left-handed-hitting infielder with sound actions, sure hands, and a strong arm that could slot him anywhere on the infield. Offensively, there is all kinds of upside in his fluid, athletic swing. Novakovic will give coach Napoleon a lot of flexibility to his lineups and in-game moves, knowing that he has a player who can plug in defensively anywhere he's needed, backed by a bat that could make an impact inside the order. He's a talented sophomore to keep an eye on this spring.
+ Brenden Stressler, OF (2023; Saint Louis commit): Stressler burst on the scene late last spring finishing the season with a flurry for the Trevians. In his final 15 games, Stressler hit two home runs and recorded 24 RBIs. That kind of production will be crucial for the entirety of the 2022 season to make up for a couple of key bats the Trevians graduated, most notably Alex Calarco (Northwestern). Stressler, who was selected to the 2021 PBR Future Games, has all the makings to be one of the top hitters in the class. He stands in the box with a relaxed, confident presence and sound plate discipline. He stays extremely quiet and repeatable with loose, strong hands and drives baseballs with authority to all fields. If Stressler can continue to build off his impressive 2021 season, it will go a long way for New Trier this spring.
The Trevians are led by Mike Napoleon, one of the most decorated and successful coaches in Illinois baseball history, something we counted among our Top-10 stories of 2021. New Trier finished the 2021 campaign with a record of 25-13 and a 4A Super-Sectional appearance, pushing Napoleon to career win No. 921, now just 29 short of Dave Swisegood’s 950 total – now No. 2 on the IHSA's all-time list. That’s a single-season hurdle, but not unheard of in Napoleon’s tenure, especially considering the talent contained inside the New Trier dugout this spring. For perspective, New Trier has won 30-plus games nine times during Napoleon’s time at the helm of the program, the most recent of which came in 2017 when the Trevians went 30-4 and made a 4A state semifinals appearance.
New Trier was one win away from the 4A state tourney in 2021 and they return two of their top three arms in senior RHPs Dalton Hastings (Kenyon) and Oliver Barkal (Niagara). They will miss Huang (mentioned earlier), a crafty right-hander with feel for the zone and competitive nature on the mound, but both seniors make up the loss with all kinds of varsity experience. Hastings finished the 2021 campaign with a 7-2 record and 2.43 ERA. Barkal has a lively arm on the mound, up to 88 mph in the past, and he also saw some time as a position player in 2021. Outside of the two main horses, New Trier will lean on a plenty of arms to fill out the other innings throughout the spring. A few seniors who should see their number called plenty are LHP Jimmy Ertmann, RHP Will Hayes (Babson), and RHP Harry Higgins. And there are two other juniors who should be in the mix: LHP Dylan Mayer and RHP Charlie Hahn. Mayer has a long, athletic frame and was up to 86 mph this winter, while Hahn has a wiry frame, long easy arm action, as well as a fastball up to 84 mph paired with two high-spinning breaking balls.Positionally, the Trevians lost a couple pieces to graduation, but none as important as four-year varsity starter Alex Calarco, who's not too far away on Northwestern's campus. Calarco was a versatile defender who played a number of spots and was a physical switch-hitter who anchored the middle of their lineup. Luckily for coach Napoleon, he has two advanced junior bats – the aforementioned Stressler and 3B Graham Mastros – who each saw quality varsity time as sophomores and should be ready to build off their 2021 experience. We highlighted Stressler in the 'X-Factor' section above, but Mastros has some of the best raw pull-side power in the class and, when he is on the barrel, he has one of the more dynamic bats in the junior class.
Graham Mastros (10/10/21)
Two senior DePauw commits, SS Alex Mendes and C/1B Louis Florida, add even more quality depth to the offensive lineup. Mendes is a four-year starter who should man the shortstop position while Florida will likely bounce back and forth behind home and first base. It would not be a surprise if Florida ends up with the best numbers after his all-conference 2021 campaign, hitting four home runs with 26 RBIs. Florida has a fluid, athletic left-handed swing and knack for the barrel. Senior outfielder AJ Steinback is yet another experienced bat that will slot somewhere within this dangerous lineup. Steinback hit .345 last spring with an on base percentage over .480. Steinback is also an above-average outfielder with a strong arm.
The Trevians also have a number of other quality depth pieces when looking at their varsity roster and position players. Junior catcher Henry Wolfe is athletic with a strong arm – recently ran a 6.78 in the 60 and measured 82 mph from the crouch, producing pop times ranging from 1.95-2.06. Wolfe should find himself on the field for the majority of games, whether it is behind the plate or at first base. Sophomore left-handed-hitting middle infielder Novakovic is listed on the varsity roster as well. Novakovic should see himself on the field a good amount, filtering in across the diamond, from short to third base typically, depending on who is on the mound. The only other sophomore on the roster is outfielder, Aidan Nolan, is a plus defender in the outfield for his age and is a good baserunner with instincts. It's also worth monitoring another talented sophomore, LHP/OF Beau McBride, who will be a name to know if not this year, then in future season for the Trevians.
Coach Napoleon knows how to win has been doing so for a long time. The Trevians bring back a strong core and a number of pieces that helped lead them to 25 wins in 2021, including a Super-Sectional berth, leaving them just one win short of a trip to Joliet. Expectations are high in 2022 and if they can get enough pitching, there is no reason why New Trier cant be one of the four teams left come the state finals later this spring. There is varsity experience all over the field with a couple of new, talented faces who should continue to breathe energy and success into the program.
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