Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 9 Lincoln-Way East

By Josh Fields & Diego Solares
Illinois Staff

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on March 13, 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 2023 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 2023 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Lincoln-Way East
Preseason Rank: No. 9
2022 Record: 23-8
Conference: Southwest Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Eric Brauer


Zachary Kwasny
Lincoln-Way East
2023 Ball State
Trevor Fishman
RHP/OF Lincoln-Way East 2023 Wabash Valley
Aiden Knipper
Lincoln-Way East 2023 Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Blake Binkowski
Lincoln-Way East 2023 Millikin
Connor Bird
Lincoln-Way East 2023 Joliet JC
Connor Jendraszak
Lincoln-Way East 2023 -
Daniel Giusto
Lincoln-Way East 2023 Loras College
Jared Velez
Lincoln-Way East 2023 Aurora
John Connors
Lincoln-Way East 2023 John A Logan
Jack Cosich OF Lincoln-Way East 2023 -
Josh Safarik OF Lincoln-Way East 2023 -
Tyler Bell
Lincoln-Way East 2024 Pittsburgh
Aaron Scott
Lincoln-Way East 2025 Illinois State
Jack Bauer LHP Lincoln-Way East 2025 Virginia


+ OF Alex Stanwich (2022; Tennessee)
+ RHP Ryan Ball (2022)
+ INF Randy Seymour (2022; Michigan State)
+ RHP Jack Hoh (2022; Moraine Valley)


+ LHP Aaron Scott (2025) transfers in for the Griffins, and the recent Illinois State commit will have a chance to add even more depth for the already strong pitching staff in 2023. He’s a clean, polished, and athletic left-hander that earned high praise after a polished ‘pen at the White Sox ACE Scout Day this past fall: 

From 9/17/22: “[Scott] came away a winner from the event. The southpaw cruised with his fastball in the 79-81 mph range, reaching up to 18.7 IVB. His curveball played off a 1/7 plane and was thrown with fastball intent, 63-66 mph. Changeup sat 70-74 mph and played with slight fading action to the arm-side. Offensively, the right-handed hitter kept his bat on-plane and was on the barrel consistently with hard gap-to-gap contact throughout his round. Follow 2025 prospect.”'

Aaron Scott

 + Lincoln-Way East also hosts one of the nation's top-ranked 2025 pitchers in LHP Jack Bauer (Virginia commit). The 6-foot-3, 175-pound southpaw has regularly impressed our staff over our up-close looks, including as a member of Team Illinois at the PBR Future Games, where he stole the show as an underclassman. His fastball plays in the low-90s, touching 93 mph, and he spins a 2,700-plus rpm slider at 76-77 mph, turning over an 83-85 mph changeup too.

Jack Bauer


+ RHP Zach Kwasny (2023; Ball State) was a big part of the Griffins success last season on both sides of the ball. Kwasny twirled 57 innings with a 7-3 record while striking out 95, good for a 1.47 ERA. On the other side he hit .341/.423/.549 with four home runs, driving in 24. Kwasny’s polish and presence on the mound has never been in question, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior pumped three pitches for strikes at the Preseason ProCase this winter, holding 88-90 mph with his fastball throughout. Aside from the stuff we've seen from him indoors, Kwasny regularly performs and is as competitive as it gets, performing in big games for the Griffins on repeat. A leader on and off the field for Lincoln-Way East, we're expecting a big year from Kwasny, who's set to anchor this squad in more ways than one.

Zachary Kwasny


Lincoln-Way East have established themselves as a winning program under Eric Brauer, going 104-23 over his first four seasons as head coach, eclipsing 23 wins in each season dating back to 2018. Though a few key pieces from the Griffins’ 2022 squad departed, Lincoln-Way East still has a strong, experienced nucleus that is supported by an infusion of talent throughout the program, particularly on the mound. 

The Griffins have an ace in Kwasny, and their senior standout will give them a chance to win each game he starts, but pitching is the unquestioned strength of this club. There’s several talented arms that’ll toe the slope in the spring, such as:

RHP Connor Jendraszak (2023) returns from last year's team as a strong-armed senior to follow that's still uncommitted. He impressed our staff in a look last October at the Unsigned Senior Showcase, coming away from the event as a winner:

From 10/2/22: "Jendraszak] is another arm to follow closely moving forward. Jendraszak, who also showed well at the Illinois State Games in August, is listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, and he ran his fastball up to 86 mph with a four-pitch repertoire. Both of his breaking balls play in the low- to mid-70s with the curveball showing depth and sweeping horizontal action at times. The changeup plays at 75-76 mph with arm-side fade and some feel for the zone."

The Griffins have a strong senior class of arms that brings experience and talent each time they toe the rubber. RHP Trevor Fishman (2023; Wabash Valley JC) returns 20 innings from 2022 and should build off that mark this upcoming season. INF/RHP Connor Bird (2023; Joliet JC) also saw time on the bump last spring, logging 19 1/3 innings under his belt, while RHP Daniel Giusto (2023; Loras College) has looked the part for our staff in the past, deepening a staff that's already full of options.

Offensively the Griffins will trot out a well-rounded and deep lineup. With experienced bats like Tyler Bell (2024; Pittsburgh commit), Kwasny, and John Connors (2023; John A. Logan JC commit) all coming off of successful seasons in 2022 and are mainstays in this Griffins lineup: 

Bell looks the part of a top of the order bat and a table setter in the Griffins’ offense. The No. 4 prospect in the Illinois Class of 2024 hit .292 over 72 at-bats as a sophomore last season with more walks (25) than strikeouts (18), good for a .523 on-base percentage. Bell will look to improve on last year's number in his second full season on varsity offensively, and he’s an asset defensively, proving himself over multiple looks to our staff. We saw Bell recently at the Preseason All-State, and he again drew rave reviews from our scouts: 

From 3/2/23:  “... a Pittsburgh commit, made the Illinois State Games his coming out party last August and skyrocketed up the 2024 Illinois board as a result. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound switch-hitter swings a mature  bat from both sides of the plate, with loose athletic hands and easy effort throughout. Bell creates easy bat speed, natural loft off the barrel and works to both gaps. Throughout both rounds of BP, from both sides of the plate, Bell peaked at 99.3 mph, averaging 91.6 mph with his furthest batted ball traveling 350’. Bell also led the loaded field with an average bat speed of 79.6 mph. On top of the offensive prowess, Bell is one of the top infield defenders in the state with smooth, confident, easy actions and a strong arm that plays true with life across the diamond at 90 mph.” 

Tyler Bell

Connors is a strong bat that really impacts the baseball, collecting 10 extra base hits in 68 at-bats last year and slugging .706, and walking (17) more than striking out (16).

Other players to watch for in this lineup are Josh Safarik (2023), Aiden Knipper (2023; Wisconsin-Oshkosh commit), Trevor Fishman, Blake Binkowski (2023; Millikin commit), Jared Velez (2023; Aurora University commit), Jack Cosich (2023).


This Griffins roster is a mix of experienced veterans and upside underclassmen who have their best baseball ahead of them. They’ll test themselves with a competitive schedule throughout the spring to ensure they’re seasoned for the playoffs, and Lincoln-Way East has the ingredients to make a deep run come late May. 

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

Find more information on the 2023 Griffins below:

+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter