Preseason Team Countdown: No. 35 Grayslake Central

By Sean Duncan
Executive 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: Grayslake Central
Preseason Rank:
2014 Record:
Fox Valley
IHSA Class:  
Head Coach:
Troy Whalen
Playoff Run:
Fourth-Place Finish in 3A
2014 Final Rank:
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers:


Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
David Llorens
, LHP, 2015 (Heartland CC)
Justin Guryn, LHP, 2015 (Heartland CC)
Sam Nozicka, C, 2016
Jay Hoffman, SS, 2015
Anthony Fitzgerald, 3B, 2015

David Llorens
. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound left-hander posted a 6-1 record with a 2.23 ERA as a junior last spring. Since then, Llorens has seen a significant velocity jump. In October at a PBR event, Llorens was pitching in the upper-80s, and Whalen said he’s heard Llorens has been in the low-90s in the winter. Regardless of the velocity, Llorens should become a very strong No. 2 behind Guryn for the Rams this season.

Sam Ruhlman
, INF/RHP, 2016. Ruhlman will likely factor in the rotation and earn a lot of at-bats this spring.

Freddie Landers
, RHP/INF (College of Lake County)
Matt Loeffl,
OF (Augustana)
Russell Lundius, RHP (UW-Plattville)

Justin Guryn
struck out an impressive 96 in 70 innings while posting an 11-4 record and a 1.48 ERA as a junior last spring.

Between Guryn and Llorens, the Rams return 17 of their 29 wins from last year, which is an excellent building block for success. Although coach Troy Whalen returns only three starters from last year’s fourth-place club, he always finds a way to be in the Class 3A mix come the playoffs. Nozicka (.287 BA, 18 RBI) is a top-level defensive catcher who will be counted on heavily to produce at the plate this spring. Hoffman (.434 BA, 46 runs, 51 hits, 30 SB) returns to anchor the middle, both offensively and defensively. OF/LHP Greg Ganger, INF Alex Ruiz and OF John Stopka will also be relied on in a more elevated role from last year. Keep an eye on 2017 OF/RHP Ben Fitzgerald to make a big impact for the Rams. Fitzgerald saw limited varsity action as a freshman and possesses excellent athleticism.

The Rams are coming off their second consecutive state trip, finishing fourth and third, respectively, the last two years in 3A. Whalen also led the Rams to a third-place finish in 2009, giving the program three state trophies in five years. Few programs in the state can make that claim, regardless of class. So, while on paper one might think they lost too many contributors to make another state run, we have made that same mistake to underestimate the Rams in the past. Not this year. With Guryn and Llorens headlining the rotation, don’t be surprised if the Rams are making another run at a state trophy.

Preseason Countdown

+ Top 50 Preseason Countdown Rankings

+ Updated Illinois 2015 Rankings

+ June Event Schedule

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