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Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Edwardsville


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on March 16, opening day for regular season action under IHSA regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2020 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown through the official PBR Illinois Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.

Our 2020 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Edwardsville
Preseason Rank: 1
2019 Record: 37-5
Conference: Southwestern
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Tim Funkhouser
Playoff Run: Class 4A State Champions
2019 Final Rank: 1
Returning Starters: 3
Returning Pitchers: 3

TOP PLAYERS

NAME STATE SCHOOL CLASS POSITION COMMITMENT
Ty Berumen IL Edwardsville 2021 OF -
Logan Cromer IL Edwardsville 2020 SS Parkland JC
Carson Dubach IL Edwardsville 2021 C -
Evan Funkhouser IL Edwardsville 2021 SS -
Nicholas Hemken IL Edwardsville 2020 C Truman State University
Gavin Huebner IL Edwardsville 2020 RHP -
Jacob Kitchen IL Edwardsville 2020 C -
Hayden Moore IL Edwardsville 2021 OF Missouri State
William Range IL Edwardsville 2020 RHP Massachusetts-Amherst
Collin Salter IL Edwardsville 2020 RHP Parkland JC
Weston Slemmer IL Edwardsville 2020 C -
Drake Westcott IL Edwardsville 2020 1B Louisville

 

KEY LOSSES

NAME STATE SCHOOL CLASS POSITION COMMITMENT
Matthew Boyer IL Edwardsville 2019 RHP St. Louis
Blake Burris IL Edwardsville 2019 OF -
Jack Cooper IL Edwardsville 2019 3B -
Joe Copeland IL Edwardsville 2019 OF McKendree University
Gavin Lyday IL Edwardsville 2019 OF Kaskaskia JC
Josh Ohl IL Edwardsville 2019 SS Southern Illinois-Edwards
Max Ringering IL Edwardsville 2019 3B John A. Logan JC
Grant Schaefer IL Edwardsville 2019 RHP -
Dawson Taylor IL Edwardsville 2019 RHP John A. Logan JC
Joe Toscano IL Edwardsville 2019 OF -
Dalton Wallace IL Edwardsville 2019 C -
Jonathon Yancik IL Edwardsville 2019 RHP -
Aaron Young IL Edwardsville 2019 OF -

 

NEWCOMER to watch

Evan Funkhouser, SS, 2021: Funkhouser, an uncommitted junior shortstop, will look to fill the hole left at shortstop by the graduation of Josh Ohl, who saw playing time as a freshman at SIU-Edwardsville this spring. Funkhouser has many of the same attributes as Ohl brought to the table; a steady, reliable defender with soft hands, accurate arm and competes in the batter’s box. Funkhouser was up with the team during last year’s playoff run but this spring he is expected to play an everyday role. 

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound, wiry athletic right-handed hitter continues to take big strides in his game every time we see him, especially from an athleticism and strength standpoint. In the past year and a half, Funkhouser has added 25 pounds to his frame, chiseled down his 60 time by half a second, added 12 mph to his exit velocity and 13 mph to his arm strength across the diamond. Besides the obvious uptick in tools, Funkhouser is a coach's son, knows the game, has an even-keeled approach and should not be intimidated by varsity competition. Look for him to be a steadying force for this team in 2020.

X-FACTOR

Drake Westcott, 1B, 2020: Westcott, a Louisville commit, is entering his senior season even though it feels like he has been wreaking havoc on the rest of the state for closer to a decade. Speaking of decades, Westcott was recently named to the PBR Illinois All-Decade team thanks to the video-game type of numbers he has put up through his first three seasons, including helping lead the Tigers to the 2019 state championship. 

Westcott enters this season as the x-factor of the Edwardsville club because there is arguably no-other bat in the state that impacts its own lineup or opposing pitchers as much as Westcott. The physically imposing, 6-foot-4, 205-pound, left-handed hitter, sees more than his fair share of intentional walks. When he finally does get pitches to hit, he has a knack for the barrel and seemingly anytime he elevates a baseball it has a chance to leave the park. Despite possessing some of the best raw power in the class he is also one of the more polished hitters. He rarely chases out of the zone, recognizes and can hit spin, controls the barrel and has power to all fields. 

Last spring, as a junior, Westcott earned First Team All-State honors after hitting nine home runs with 39 RBI and he walked a remarkable 36 times, good for a .602 on base percentage. 

Westcott will once again be asked to carry the load offensively, something he has proven since his freshman year, he is more than capable of handling. 

Drake Westcott (2.2.20)

OUTLOOK

There are plenty of teams in the state that return more quantity and talent on paper than Edwardsville does heading into 2020 but very few reload the way the Tigers do. The plethora of talent coming through the program is not slowing down and as defending state champions, coach Tim Funkhouser and crew have earned the No. 1 spot on our preseason countdown. They return arguably the best bat in the senior class, a number of others who played a role in last year’s 37-win season and will look for plenty of newcomers to come in and compete to earn jobs.

Leading the way on the mound should be senior RHP Collin Salter. Salter, a Parkland JC commit, was one of the more reliable arms on staff last spring and recorded the win in the extra-inning championship affair. Salter is a low-80’s righty, who has reportedly seen an uptick in velocity this winter, with one of the best breaking balls in the class and a swing-and-miss changeup. Alongside Salter should be fellow seniors; RHP Will Range (UMass commit) and RHP/INF Gavin Huebner (uncommitted). Range is listed at 6-foot-4, 190-pounds and has been up to 88 mph while Huebner has a polish repertoire and throws a high-volume of strikes. Logan Cromer (Parkland JC), who will do a majority of his work at the plate and on the infield, is also a reliable arm that the Tigers will use this spring. Another infielder who could see time on the mound is the aforementioned Funkhouser. Another arm coming through the ranks that should add depth is sophomore OF/1B/LHP Adam Powell. There are also a plethora of other options coach Funkhouser will have at his disposal this spring.

Despite only returning three starting position players, the Tigers offense should be just as potent as it was last year. Westcott returns and will be a huge piece of the puzzle once again, hitting in the heart of the order and holding down a corner infield spot. 2021 switch-hitting OF/INF Hayden Moore (Missouri State commit) returns after seeing ample time as a sophomore. Moore should be slotted at the top of the order and can do a little bit of everything on the baseball field. Not only can he control the barrel with sneaky juice from both sides of the plate, he can also create havoc on the bases and is athletic enough to play anywhere defensively. Rounding out the outfield, most likely next to Moore, should be unsigned senior Weston Slemmer and 2021 Ty Berumen.

Cromer and Funkhouser should operate as the double-play combo up the middle with Huebner adding depth on the infield as well. An uncommitted senior ready for a much bigger role this spring is catcher Jacob Kitchen. Kitchen, still uncommitted, was a clutch performer last spring and provides another bat in the lineup with home run power.

Another senior bat ready for a bigger role this spring is C/1B Nicholas Hemken (Truman State commit). Hemken has a strong, athletic frame and twitch in his right-handed swing. Powell, mentioned above as an arm, will also get a chance to compete for a job. Powell, a left-handed hitter, adds more potential power to this already potent lineup. 

There are a number of other capable prospects on the roster who could push their way into the lineup come playoff time, one of the trademarks of the Tiger program. 

BOTTOM LINE

The theme in Edwardsville is once again a familiar one: The Tigers are one of the state’s deepest programs and are absolutely capable of making it back to Joliet. There are a couple of spots and roles to be earned and determined throughout the spring but this team will be ready for another long run come playoff time with a chance at consecutive 4A state titles.

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2020 season.

Find more information on the 2020 Tigers below:

Team Website
Team Schedule
Team Twitter

PBR ILLINOIS PRESEASON POWER 25