Preseason Top 25 Team Countdown: No. 19 Mundelein
March 9, 2016
By Sean Duncan
Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 25 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage:
| LHP Brendan Murphy
Preseason Rank: 19
2015 Record: 28-10
Conference: North Suburban Lake
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Todd Parola
Playoff Run: Lost in Sectional Final
2015 Final Rank: Not Ranked
Returning Starters: 4
Returning Pitchers: 2
Name, Position, Class (College Commitment)
Brendan Murphy, LHP/1B, 2017 (Arizona State)
Reese Dolan, RHP/OF, 2016 (Southern Illinois)
Reid Rubio, C, 2016
Zach Zagula, DH, 2016
Nick Stricker, INF, 2017
Jake Brietenreiter, INF, 2016
Johnny Buckner, RHP, 2017
Brendan Murphy. The 6-foot-3 junior left-hander proved himself to be a big-game shutdown ace as a sophomore last spring. The Arizona State recruit posted an 8-1 record with 92 strikeouts and 17 walks in 64 innings, which included a victory in the North Suburban League championship game. Bigger, stronger and improved this spring, expect Murphy to raise the bar even more. He features an advanced three-pitch mix, including an 85-88 mph fastball and potentially a plus changeup.
NEWCOMER TO WATCH
Steven Sanchez. A 6-foot-7, 220-pound LHP/1B, Sanchez is one of the top-ranked prospects in the 2018 class. For his size (and he’s every bit of it), he’s remarkably coordinated. In the winter, he sat 81-83 mph with his fastball, and showed feel for both his curveball and changeup. As he continues to develop and fill out, he should continue to throw harder. Offensively, Sanchez showed power potential from the left size.
KEY PLAYER LOST
3B/OF Luke Peterson
The Mustangs have won 89 games in the last three years.
There’s no team in the state that is better flying under the radar than Mundelein. Each year, the Mustangs never have an over-abundance of high-end talent, seemingly graduate a solid senior class, and next thing you know they’ve won 25-plus games, a conference championship, and perched somewhere in the Top 25 of the state rankings. Some might say the Mustangs overachieve, others who have faced the perennial power might say they are one of the best-prepared teams in the state, thanks to venerable coach Todd Parola and his staff. The Mustangs seldom beat themselves, make the routine plays, throw strikes and have competitive at-bats. This season, the Mustangs welcome back their top two arms, both Division 1 recruits, in junior LHP Brendan Murphy (Arizona State) and RHP Reese Dolan (Southern Illinois). The duo gives the Mustangs two potential shut-down arms, with Murphy being a bona fide ace. Mundelein only returns four starters, but that seems to be the case every year. Consistent offense, however, is the big question surrounding the Mustangs. Look for junior Nick Stricker and seniors Reed Rubio, Zach Zagula and Jake Brietenreiter to supply some offense. Dolan and Murphy are also position players when they don’t pitch.
In a crowded North Suburban Lake Conference with the likes of Stevenson, Lake Forest, Libertyville and Warren, look for the Mustangs to repeat as champions. How deep of a postseason run will depend on how dependable the offense is.