Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Team Countdown: No. 7 Champaign 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: Champaign Central
Preseason Rank:  7
2014 Record: 35-3
Conference: Big 12
IHSA Class:  3A
Head Coach:  John Staab
Playoff Run:
Lost in Sectional semifinals to Sacred Heart-Griffin, 2-0
2014 Final Rank:
Returning Starters:
Returning Pitchers:

Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)

Jake Snider
, 2B, 2016 (Louisville)
Connor Mapes
, OF, 2015 (Illinois State)
Luke Beesley, C/1B, 2015 (Parkland)
Joe Aeilts, C/INF, 2016
Alec Barger, OF/RHP, 2016
Nick Brunson, SS, 2015 (Kaskaskia JC)
Phillip Swartz, RHP, 2016
Matt Brown, 1B/C, 2016
Tanner Gordon, RHP, 2016
Jon Foster, OF, 2016
Zach Dorner, RHP, 2015

Jake Snider
. The 5-foot-10 junior Louisville recruit is one of the top left-handed hitters in the state, regardless of class. Ranked No. 12 in Illinois’ 2016 class and No. 154 overall, Snider is a hard-nosed player who takes professional at-bats. A two-year starter, Snider has a .424 career batting average in 67 games played.

With nine returning starters and three of the team’s top four pitchers back in the fold, there won’t be many new faces in the lineup this season for the Maroons.

RHP Alec Altmyer (Illinois State)

Joe Aeilts
enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign last spring, as the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder broke the school record with 63 hits and 10 triples. He finished with a .512 batting average.  … Speedy junior OF Alec Barger has successfully swiped 36 of 37 bases.  

The Maroons were a consistent Top 10 team last spring, cruised to the Big 12 championship and finished with a 35-3 record. And they did so with a lineup consisting of all sophomores and juniors. With nine starters back, it’s not surprising that the outlook is even brighter this spring. The Maroons feature highly ranked prospects all over the diamond – especially in the junior class. 2B Jake Snider (No. 12 in Illinois’ 2016 class), OF/RHP Alec Barger (No. 20), 3B/C Joe Aeilts (No. 82), RHP Tanner Gordon (No. 87) and RHP Phillip Swarz (No. 152) are all impact players. Positionally, there are no glaring weaknesses. Snider and SS Nick Brunson comprise a rock-solid double-play duo. Outfielders Barger (6.64 60, 89 mph from OF, 89 exit velocity) and Connor Mapes (6.70 60, 88 mph from OF, 88 exit velocity) are dynamic high-level athletes. C/1B Luke Beesley and 3B/C Joe Aeilts provide middle-of-the-order pop; and C/1B Matt Brown is a solid defender. The Maroons also return three of their top four arms on the mound, but they graduated RHP Alec Altmyer, the team’s lone power arm from last year. With that said, Swartz led the team in wins, going 9-1 with three saves, two shutouts and maintained a 0.41 ERA as a sophomore. Gordon, a highly projectable 6-foot-4 right-hander, posted a 4-0 record and did not yield an earned run in 28 innings last spring. Barger also features mid-80s velocity on the mound, and senior RHP Zach Dorner (5-0, 0.65 ERA) also returns.

The Maroons clearly have the talent and experience to have another incredible season. Last year, they fell to state runner-up SHG in the Class 3A sectional semifinals. With another year under their belts, they should make it all the way to Joliet, and is one of the frontrunners to be hoisting a state championship trophy come June.

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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