Preseason Team Countdown: No. 1 Joliet Catholic



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:

Team: Joliet Catholic
Preseason Rank: 1
2014 Record: 28-8
Conference: East Suburban Catholic Conference (1st Place in 2014)
IHSA Class: 3A
Head Coach: Jared Voss
Playoff Run:
Lost in Regional to Lincoln-Way West
2014 Final Rank:
14
Returning Starters:
6
Returning Pitchers:
8

TOP PLAYERS
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)

Nick Dalesandro, C/RHP/OF, 2015
(Purdue)
Mitch Boe, SS, 2015
(Iowa)
Drake Fellows, RHP, 2016 (Vanderbilt)
Danny Ehrsam, RHP, 2015 (SIU-Edwardsville)
Keegan Tyrell, OF, 2015 (Concordia)
Mike Quiram, 3B, 2015 (St. Francis)
Max Brzostowski, 2B, 2015 (University of Chicago)
KC Simonich, OF/INF, 2017
Dan Devine, C, 2016

X-FACTOR
C/RHP Nick Dalesandro is the top two-way talent in Illinois and is capable of playing any position on the diamond. The four-year varsity starter hit .409 with seven doubles, four triples, three home runs, and 28 RBI in 2014. He’s also quite possibly the state’s best big game pitcher, having already won two state titles on the mound, and went 7-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 74 strikeouts last season. He’ll most likely catch a majority of games early on, as it is likely his position at the professional level if he hears his name called early in the June MLB Draft, but look for him to transition to the mound later on in the season in preparation for the playoffs.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Sophomore 3B/OF KC Simonich is a 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-handed hitter ranked No. 11 in Illinois’ 2017 class. He’ll likely hit in the middle of the order, impressing with his fluid swing and advanced approach at the plate.

KEY PLAYER LOST
Rylan Bannon, 2B
(Xavier)
Aaron Markley, 1B
(UW-Whitewater)
Kyle Polaski, RHP (Palm Beach Atlantic)
Brady Kostecky, RHP (Roosevelt)

STAT RAT
Junior RHP Drake Fellows returns as a legitimate ace after going 6-1 with a 0.69 ERA and and incredible 77-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2014.

OUTLOOK
The Hilltoppers look to build off 2014’s IHSBCA State Championship, where they became the first champion to finish its season without a loss (20-0) in the 39-year history of the tournament. Joliet Catholic’s pitching staff is as deep as any in the state of Illinois. No. 3 starter Danny Ehrsam recently sat 88-90 mph this winter in a short bullpen session, is committed to SIU-Edwardsville, and won four games with two saves while serving as the closer a year ago. Fellows, ranked No. 2 in Illinois’ 2016 class, impresses with advanced command of an 89-92 mph fastball and hard, late breaking low 80’s slider. Add in Dalesandro on the mound at some point, and the Hilltoppers boast a top three unequalled in Illinois. Joliet Catholic’s pitching staff doesn’t stop there though, as several senior arms (nicknamed the “Bench Mob” after last summer’s state title run) will contribute out of the bullpen. Mike Quiram, Connor Brandon, Danny Belling, Alex Ragusa, and George Manikas will all see time on the hill.  Senior shortstop Mitch Boe will anchor the top of the order and the middle of the diamond. The Iowa commit is one of the state’s toughest outs, and hit .384 in 2014 with 26 runs scored and 23 RBI.

BOTTOM LINE
Recent IHSBCA Hall of Fame inductee Coach Jared Voss will lead the Hilltoppers in his 17th year at the helm. Voss has captured two regular season state titles, going 413-174 during his career, and this may be his best team yet. Joliet Catholic will still have to go through Class 3A’s toughest regional with Lincoln-Way West, Lemont, and Oak Forest all capable of being state finals-caliber teams. The Hilltoppers know it all too well after being ranked No. 1 in the state entering the 2014 spring playoffs and falling to Lincoln-Way West in the opening game of the regional. Still, expect to see the Hilltoppers come June at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.

Preseason Countdown

+ Top 50 Preseason Countdown Rankings

+ 2015 Schedules Released

+ Updated Illinois 2016 Rankings

+ Updated Illinois 2015 Rankings

+ June Event Schedule

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