Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 16 Stevenson

By Gavin Smith
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: Stevenson
Preseason Rank: No. 16
2022 Record: 26-11
Conference: North Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Nick Skala


Chris Iannuzzi RHP/OF Stevenson 2023 Southeastern CC (IA)
Michael Belbot RHP/DH Stevenson 2023 Illinois-Chicago
JR Nelson SS Stevenson 2023 Ohio
Joe Richardson LHP/1B Stevenson 2023 Eastern Illinois
Colin Schmitke 3B/INF Stevenson 2023 Southeastern CC (IA)
Luca Morelli C Stevenson 2023 Illinois Wesleyan
Brett Gaynor RHP Stevenson 2023 -
Joe Dolenga INF Stevenson 2024 -
Brady Rosenkranz RHP Stevenson 2025 Mizzou
Ryan Harris OF/RHP Stevenson 2026 -
Caden Schultz C/OF Stevenson 2026 -


+ MIF Owen Housinger (Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
+ LHP/OF Daniel Cabrales (Milikan)
+ OF/RHP Jordan Skolmar (Milwaukee School of Engineering)
+ MIF Bryan Park (Loras)


Ryan Harris (2/12/23)

+ Two underclassmen to note on this Stevenson team are freshman C/OF Caden Schultz and RHP/OF Ryan Harris. Both freshmen have the chance to be immediate impact players for this already deep varsity roster. Schultz has recently shown the potential to be an above-average bat in the program and Harris flashed advanced tools at the O’Hare Preseason ID in February. Harris has an upside frame, leverage in the swing and live arm that topped at 90 mph from the outfield and 88.4 mph on the mound. Read below to hear what our staff had to say about his workout from the event:

“[Harris] is a freshman that flashed some big tools and one of the higher ceilings of the event. Harris’ arm is well above-average for his age, reaching up to 90 mph from the outfield with a quick release and ¾ slot, playing with easy life and carry through his target. Pitching Harris featured some loud stuff starting with his fastball that averaged 85-88 mph that jumped out of the hand. His best secondary offering being his sharp breaking slider with depth, as he showed the ability to throw it hard as well as to his gloveside. Also showed a late fading changeup that he can throw to his armside. At the plate, he creates leverage with his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame, with his bat working uphill and the ball jumping off the barrel when the swing syncs. Harris averaged 89.5 mph off the bat, max of 95.7 and his furthest batted ball traveled 353’. Name to know in the 2026 class.” 


+ SS JR Nelson (2023; Ohio commit) has long proven to be one of the top up-the-middle defenders in this now-senior class. He has confident, fluid actions that could play anywhere on the dirt and his arm continues to tick up, now topping at 88 mph across. He enters the 2023 season as one of the true 'X-Factors' on the squad due to what he can bring on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots lose their top bat from a season ago (Owen Housinger) and if Nelson can improve on his .290 batting average, 10 doubles, 15 RBIs and .417 OBP (15:11 BB:K) it could go a long way to getting this northern Illinois program deep into the playoffs.

JR Nelson (2/26/22)


Last season, the Patriots ended with a 26-11 record, finishing third in conference and ultimately getting knocked off in the regional championship. With a ton of production returning from last year’s roster, high-level juniors, and some impact underclassmen, this Stevenson team has high hopes for what the 2023 season has in store. 

This year’s team is led by a strong group of seniors in the aforementioned Nelson, LHP/1B Joe Richardson (2023; Eastern Illinois), C/3B Luca Morelli (2023; Illinois Wesleyan), RHP/OF Chris Iannuzzi (2023; Southeastern CC), and INF Colin Schmitke (2023; Southeastern CC). 

Richardson was one of the team's top bats last year with a .389 batting average and he drove in 18 runs as a junior, and he'll also be critical in a relief role, after making eight appearances on the mound last season. We have seen his fastball reach a top velocity of 88.1 mph with quality spin (2,298 rpm) and two quality offspeed pitches that round out his arsenal.

Catching for the Patriots this year should be Morelli, who will also hit in the middle of the lineup. Last year, he hit .382 and tallied 21 RBIs in 72 plate appearances. At the Preseason All-State: Upperclass event in 2022, Morelli recorded a 92.8 mph max exit velocity and a max batted distance of 313 feet, and it's a wonder how he'll be able to improve on those metrics and stats here a year later.

Iannuzzi will look to see an expanded role this season as the potential ace and cleanup hitter for this experienced squad. In five appearances on the mound last year, he went 2-0 with 23 strikeouts and a 1.84 ERA. He hit for a .296 average and 20 RBIs and he looks to improve on these numbers this season. Read below to see what our staff had to say about his outing at the Illinois State Games in August:

“[Ianuzzi] threw three scoreless innings, striking out five and allowing only one hit on Wednesday morning. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander pitched in the low-80s, touching 84 mph with his fastball and consistently spotting it east-to-west for strikes. He regularly turned to a firm upper-70s cutter with late glove-side action and also threw a 75-78 mph changeup to left-handed hitters.” 

Chris Iannuzzi (8/9/22)

Schmitke is a versatile infielder with varsity experience who played in 34 games last year for the Patriots, and his tandem with Nelson on the left side combines to be one of the most athletic, at least from the northwest suburbs, surely. Fellow senior RHP/DH Michael Belbot is headed to Illinois-Chicago as an arm but he should also impact this club with his right-handed bat. Belbot collected nine extra-base hits in 2022, including three home runs that led to 18 RBIs last spring.

Stevenson’s junior class has some talented players that have yet to make a serious impact at the varsity level. OF Brandon Schultz (2024) will be a top-of-the-order potential bat and should have a chance to be an asset in the outfield as well, as one of the fastest juniors in the state, Schultz emerged with his play in front of us at last year’s inaugural Illinois State Games in Rantoul. Read below to see what our staff had to say about him from the event: 

“[Schultz] ran one of the event’s fastest 60-yard dash times, blazing to a 6.62 60-yard dash and reaching a peak speed of 21.1 mph. Schultz’s speed translated to the gameplay portion of this event, and his bat strength showed in BP, peaking at 96.9 mph with a 351 foot max distance. Schultz had a couple of hits throughout the week and his speed played on the bases. In the outfield he topped out at 85 mph on the workout day.”

Brandon Schultz (8/9/22)

INF Joe Dolenga (2024) is another junior vying for time on the infield and could slot in at second base. He has shown above-average speed and power in the past and at our Preseason All-State: Upperclass event this winter he ran a 6.92 time in the 60-yard dash and he recorded a peak exit velocity of 95.5 mph. His emergence could go a long way for this offense.

Despite the intrigue with the offense, the pitching depth looks to be the biggest strength for this year’s team. RHP/1B Brady Rosenkranz (2025; Missouri) is currently ranked at No. 18 overall in the state’s class of 2025, and he will be one of the top arms for the Patriots this season. As a freshman last year, Rosenkranz was an immediate impact for the varsity squad, pitching 35 innings, the second most on last year's team. He went 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 38 strikeouts to only 15 walks. The sophomore will look to make a major jump this year with varsity experience under his belt. RHP Brett Gaynor (2023) is also back after seeing plenty of innings in 2022. In 31.1 innings, he went 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA, and he led the team in strikeouts with 50. RHP Belbot, mentioned above as a UIC commit, has a lively fastball that has topped at 91 mph and should be relied on once again this spring. Belbot had 15 appearances last year with a 2.66 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and 3 saves. Iannuzzi and Richardson who we touched on above with the offense, will also be two key senior arms.

RHP Nick Rayyan (2024) provided just one inning of work last year as a sophomore, but even with the depth on staff, he could see his role substantially expand in 2023. He has shown a fastball that topped at 84.6 mph, and will provide even more depth to their rotation; seniors LHP Carson Kaye and RHP Bobby Seltzer are pair more arms to follow this season.


Stevenson has a legitimate chance to make a run in the playoffs this year with so much depth and experience on their roster, along with a couple of freshmen with above-average tools. They have all kinds of quality depth on the mound and have the offensive ability to win a lot of games this spring. Keep an eye on this squad as they look to have a lot of ingredients it takes to make it all the way to Joliet.

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

Find more information on the 2023 Patriots below:

+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter