Preseason Team Countdown: No. 27 Lake Forest
March 16, 2015
By Sean Duncan
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: Lake Forest
Preseason Rank: 27
2014 Record: 24-13
Conference: North Suburban Lake
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Ray Del Fava
Playoff Run: Lost in Regional Championship
2014 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 7
Returning Pitchers: 3
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Cal Coughlin, 3B/RHP, 2016 (Texas Christian)
Brad Czerniejewski, OF, 2017 (Texas Christian)
Bryan Bund, LHP, 2015 (Eastern Illinois)
George Karkazis, C, 2015 (Miami Ohio)
Matt Gruenes, 1B, 2015
Charlie Sullivan, OF/RHP, 2015
Mateo Hargitt, OF, 2015
Cal Coughlin. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound TCU recruit is one of the top two-way talents in the country. Coughlin played his first two years at Carmel Catholic before transferring back to his hometown public school. Coughlin is an impact player in all facets. On the mound, he topped out at 93 mph at the PBR Preseason All-State Showcase while showing at times a plus slider in the 83-85 range. Positionally, he’s a switch-hitting third baseman with power from both sides of the plate.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Brad Czerniejewski. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound outfielder is the No. 1-ranked prospect in Illinois’ 2017 class. Already verbally committed to TCU, Czerniejewski possesses high-level tools across the board. Most notably, he features electric bat speed to the level at which we haven’t seen in Illinois in a long time. He also ran a 6.84 laser-timed 60 and was clocked at 87 mph from the outfield.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
SS Luke Johnson (Bucknell)
LHP David Keaton (Coe College)
Coughlin’s raw stats at the Preseason All-State Showcase in February were nothing short of impressive. He recorded 98 mph exit velocity and was clocked at 88 mph across the infield. On the mound, he sat 90-92 in his bullpen, topping at 93 mph. He also threw an 83-85 mph slider and 77-79 mph changeup.
The Scouts are poised for a breakout campaign, and have the talent to be one of the top teams in the northern suburbs of Chicago. At the barest minimum, they should be one of the most exciting teams to watch. With seven starters back from last year’s 24-win club, and the additions of transfer Cal Coughlin and sophomore Brad Czerniejewski, coach Ray Del Fava will have significantly more talent than the school has had in a long time – perhaps dating back to 2003-2004 seasons. Both Coughlin and Czerniejewski are top-ranked prospects in their respective classes and verbally committed to Texas Christian. Coughlin headlines the pitching staff that also includes LHP Bryan Bund, an Eastern Illinois recruit who comes at hitters with a mid-80s fastball from a 3/4 arm slot. OF/RHP Charlie Sullivan, a three-year returning starter, should also log significant innings. Offensively, the Scouts have the potential to score a lot of runs. Czerniejewski and Coughlin have middle-of-the-lineup thunder. Left-handed hitting catcher George Karkazis, a Miami Ohio recruit, also returns, along with left-handed hitting 1B Matt Gruenes and OF Mateo Hargitt, who led the team in homers last season.
The ultra-competitive North Suburban Lake Conference has been dominated by the likes of Libertyville, Mundelein and Stevenson in recent years, with Lake Forest typically finishing near the basement. That shouldn’t be the case this season. If everything comes together for Lake Forest, it has the talent to win the conference and make a significant playoff run.