Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Brother Rice

 By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Illinois high school season kicked off Monday, March 13, the first day for regular season games.

Over the last several weeks, we have been rolling  out team previews of high school teams all across the state and  across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25. 

We have been sending out our annual Preseason Questionnaire to coaches all across the state and as the responses flood in we will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Brother Rice
Preseason Rank: 1
2016 Record: 35-4
Conference: Chicago Catholic Blue
IHSA Class:
Head Coach:
John McCarthy
Playoff Run:
Sectional Final
2016 Final Rank:
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers:

Top Players

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Ryan Kutt
Brother Rice 2017 RHP/1B Illinois
Ryan King
IL Brother Rice 2017 2B/SS Michigan State
Jack Guzek
IL Brother Rice
2017 RHP/3B Indiana State
Andy Lopez
IL Brother Rice
2017 C
St. Joseph
Jake Ridgway
IL Brother Rice
2017 RHP/OF Indiana State
Brett Bagus
IL Brother Rice 2017 OF
Pat Mayo
IL Brother Rice
2017 3B Spring Hill 
Sam Jones
IL Brother Rice
2018 SS Indiana 
Joe Payton
IL Brother Rice
2018 RHP  
Zach Litke IL Brother Rice
2018 RHP  
Ryan Palmblad
IL Brother Rice
2018 LHP  

Mike Massey, SS/2B (Illinois)
Andrew Dyke, OF (Illinois)
Jack Nelligan, RHP
Joey Preusser, OF (South Suburban)

RHP Ryan Kutt. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound two-way prospect has been a big-game pitcher since his freshman year. It seemed like in every big game and every big win for the Crusaders in 2016, Kutt played a vital role, whether it be on the mound or at the plate. Known for his stuff and competitiveness on the mound, Kutt officially broke out with the bat last spring for the Crusaders, At the plate, the right-handed hitter batted .406 with 16 doubles, two triples and eight homers. He also added 48 RBI and 23 runs scored. On the mound, the Illinois recruit went 10-0 with a 0.64 ERA. In 66 innings pitched he struck out 85 batters, gave up 41 hits, six earned runs and walked 10. Look for that trend to continue in Kutt’s final campaign.

Senior RHP/3B Jack Guzek is following Kutt’s lead in being a dynamic two-way threat for Brother Rice. Guzek’s stat line from 2016 - Offensively: .394 BA, 6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 26 R, 6 SB. On the mound: 7-0 record, 48.2 IP, 32 H, 14 R, 11 ER, 16 BB, 55 K, 1.58 ERA. Guzek, an Indiana State recruit, is also highly projectable with his lean frame, loose quick arm and a fastball sits comfortably in the high 80s with reports of more. 

Three sophomore outfielders. Danny Doligale, Michael Bolton and Kendall Pettis will all battle for a spot in the outfield this spring. Doligale is a left-handed hitter with a quick bat that stays flat through the zone and above-average speed. Bolton profiles as a leadoff type hitter due to his elite 6.6 speed and barrel control approach at the plate. Pettis has an athletic frame and the ability to be a middle of the order type of bat. Regardless of who wins the positions this season, all three of these talented 2019’s are the future of the Crusader outfield.

Danny Doligale (1.15.17)

The Crusaders will be looking to build off of a memorable 2016, which ended prematurely with a 4-3 loss to St. Laurence in the Sectional Final. After losing two of the first three games last spring, the Crusaders and coach John McCarthy rattled off 30 straight wins, which included an undefeated run through the brutally tough Chicago Catholic Blue Conference. Despite losing two Illinois commits to graduation, Brother Rice is loaded with talent once again and is our choice to take home the 4A state title in 2017. Over the offseason Brother Rice was selected to participate in this prestigious USA Baseball NHSI, the first team from the Midwest to ever receive the honor. Looking at the team this season, they currently have five Division I commits with more to come and there are no glaring holes. They return Kutt and Guzek on the mound, a formidable one-two punch with plenty of big-game experience. Both will be key pieces to the offensive lineup as well. One of the more intriguing pieces to the Crusader staff this spring will be RHP Jake Ridgway (Indiana State). The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander is new to pitching and has a live arm that sits in the upper 80s and ability to spin a breaking ball. It is uncertain what role he will be used in this spring but gives McCarthy yet another weapon. Junior RHP Joe Payton and LHP Ryan Palmblad will be called on to contribute this spring. Payton has a quick arm, a  fastball that runs into the mid-to-upper 80’s and can really spin the baseball. Palmblad is a crafty, strike-throwing southpaw who got his feet wet on varsity last spring. Junior RHP Zach Litke is another arm that will add depth. Positionally, Ryan King, a slick-fielding Michigan State recruit, returns at shortstop, and Indiana recruit Sam Jones will likely fill the hole left by Massey at second base. OF Brett Bagus, who can really run, returns in the outfield. Ridgway could also play the outfield when not on the mound and three sophomores Doligale, Pettis and Bolton will battle it out for any available outfield spots. Senior Andy Lopez returns behind the plate. Offensively, the Crusaders should be able to score in a variety of ways. King, who features top-level speed, will set the table at the top of the order. Guzek and Kutt have the ability to drive in a lot of runs and hit for a high average. Jones should also slot somewhere in the middle of the order and can do a lot of things offensively. 


The Crusaders are battle-tested, and have the front-line arms, depth and position talent to bring home the Class 4A state championship.

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

preseason countdown