Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 14 Mundelein

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

The Illinois high school season kicks off on March 12th, the first day for regular season games.

Leading up to the opening week of games we will be rolling out team previews of high school teams all across the state and across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Mundelein
Preseason Rank: 14
2017 Record: 33-7
Conference: North Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Randy Lerner
Playoff Run: Sectional champions
2017 Final Rank: 8
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 4


Johnny Buckner, RHP (Lake County CC)
Will Michalski, RHP (Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
Brendan Murphy, LHP/1B (MLB Draft: Brewers, 4th-round)


Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Steven Sanchez
IL Mundelein 2018 LHP Arkansas
Jeff Morton
IL Mundelein 2018 OF Triton JC
Ryan Patel
IL Mundelein 2018 SS
Drew Breitenreiter
IL Mundelein 2018 2B
Mason Schaller
IL Mundelein 2018 C  
Ethan Ekstrom IL Mundelein 2018 RHP/OF  
Ben Holly
IL  Mundelein 2018  C/3B/DH Carroll University
TJ Yakimisky
IL  Mundelein 2019  INF
Jared Dorfman
IL Mundelein 2019 OF  
Jake Devine
IL Mundelein 2019 1B/RHP  
Rahul Champaneri
IL Mundelein 2019 LHP  
Justin Binz IL Mundelein 2019 OF/RHP  
Austin Greco IL Mundelein 2020 RHP/OF  


Technically, RHP/OF Austin Greco did see some time with the varsity team as a freshman last season. He was used as a reliever, mostly, but he has the stuff of a starter and he could be given a good look for that role this spring.

The Mustangs graduated a few key pieces in the rotation a season ago and Greco’s three-pitch mix could have him slide right into the rotation. His mid-80s running fastball pairs well with his curveball and changeup -- two pitches he has demonstrated some feel for in front of us at a recent PBR event. Greco is also an athletic outfielder and his bat can definitely play at the varsity level. It remains to be seen how much he’ll be utilized offensively and defensively, but he could make a huge impact in his sophomore season.

Austin Greco (2.18.18)


Look no further than LHP Steven Sanchez (Arkansas) to be this team’s X-Factor. You’re probably already very familiar with his name -- he is one of the best pitchers in the state after all, ranked No. 7 in Illinois -- but he’s got big shoes to fill from the ace’s spot in the rotation. Sanchez has the stuff, though. He throws in the mid- to upper-80s from the left side and demonstrated a newfound ability to pepper the strike zone with all three of his pitches last year. His curveball can be sharp and his changeup is more than adequate. Again, he’s got top-notch stuff.

Unlike in years past, Mundelein won’t have the luxury of leaning on more than one ace-like arm. This team goes through Sanchez, but he’s capable of handling such a responsibility.

Steven Sanchez (2.19.17)


Believe it or not, four years with one of the best players in the state, LHP Brendan Murphy (MLB Draft: Brewers, 4th round), will help any team reach four straight sectionals. He was their best hitter and one of the state’s best pitchers last season. He hit over .500 for Mundelein but was more importantly the arm they could most often rely upon to soak up easy outs in their biggest games of the season. He was named to PBR’s First Team All-State two years in a row for his junior and senior accomplishments.

State runner-ups in 2016, the Mustangs’ atypical defensive miscues cost them another shot at the title in last year’s super-sectionals against the eventual champs Crystal Lake South. As good as Mundelein has been over the past six seasons, they’ve gone without the grand prize of earning a state championship. It just goes to show you how difficult winning that honor is.

What will make Mundelein’s march back to state this spring even more laborious in 2018 is that they’ll be doing it this time without their 23-year veteran head coach Todd Parola, who won over 600 from Mustangs’ dugout since he took over in 1995. The good news is Randy Lerner, an assistant of Parola’s for the past 11 seasons, is taking over, so the Mustangs will maintain some familiarity on the coaching staff.

Murphy aside, Mundelein is going to need depth behind its ace Sanchez. He and Murphy combined to headline one of the fiercest rotations in Illinois for the past few years, but on his own Sanchez is more than capable of anchoring the front of this staff.

After Sanchez, things get a little more thin. It’s a wonder who exactly will become the Mustangs’ de facto No. 2. Senior SS Ryan Patel is set to eat some innings on the mound this year, same with fellow senior OF Ethan Ekstrom. But after that, there appear to be many jobs up for grabs within this pitching staff. The sophomore righty Greco is all primed for an expanded role. He was mostly used as a reliever last season but he has the makings of useful arm in a starting role. Senior LHP Jeff Morton, junior RHP's Justin Binz and TJ Yakimisky are all capable in adding quality depth on the mound. 

Offensively, the Mustangs are actually returning quite a bit of talent, including two three-year varsity starters: OF Jeff Morton (Triton JC) and 2B Drew Breitenreiter. The aforementioned Patel will return to shortstop, where he looks best, and senior C Mason Schaller will be the handling Sanchez & Co. from behind the plate. But if it isn’t Schaller receiving on any particular day, it’ll probably be Swiss Army knife senior Ben Holly (Carroll). He’s going to catch, DH, and play the occasional third base for the Mustangs this spring. The aforementioned Binz and Yakimisky should also compete for playing time as well.


Lots of new faces this year in Mundelein, including its head coach, but there’s quite a few familiar ones, too. They’ll miss Murphy, obviously, but given what Sanchez can do on any given start he’ll fill the role of staff ace just fine. And the number of offense-first seniors returning should stabilize the lineup.

There’s a culture of winning ingrained into the soil of this high school program and there isn’t a player in that dugout who hasn’t been molded by it. The Mustangs are still strong and they have some enviable pieces to give a state title another go.

Find more information on the 2018 Mustangs below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

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