Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 15 Oswego East


By Diego Solares
Illinois Staff

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on April 12, 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 2021 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 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Oswego East
Preseason Rank: No. 15
2019 Record: 18-13
Conference: Southwest Prairie
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Matt Engelhardt

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Nick Caruso INF 2021 -
Cole Collander RHP 2021 -
Anthony Dudzinski INF 2021 -
Jonas Gulbrandsen INF 2021 Parkland JC
Joey Hansen C 2021 -
Christian Jensik RHP 2021 North Central College
Jackson Lamboley OF 2021 -
Austin Miller RHP 2021 John Carroll
Camden Ruby OF 2021 Maryville
Donovan Zielke OF 2021  -
Ashton Izzi RHP 2022  Wichita State
Noah Schultz LHP 2022 Vanderbilt

STAT RAT

8 - Eight is the number of expected seniors that will be penciled into the everyday lineup for Oswego East. Even though only one player on this entire roster returns with varsity experience under their belt, the Wolves look like they’ll comfortably be trotting out eight 2021 graduates on a day-to-day basis.

VIDEO SPOTLIGHT

OF Camden Ruby, a Maryville commit, has a chance to be an offensive leader for this squad, as the 6-foot, 165-pound left-handed hitter is ranked inside the top-110 prospects for the state. He’s a wiry, loose-levered athlete with natural bat speed and fluid juice off the barrel, projecting as a future staple nestled within the heart of a collegiate lineup.

Camden Ruby (8/11/20)

OUTLOOK

The strength of this Oswego East team is quite obvious, as their pitching staff is deep with high-level talent at the top. Anchoring this rotation is a duo of high-octane nationally ranked pitching prospects in the 2022 class: LHP Noah Schultz and RHP Ashton Izzi

Schultz is widely regarded as one of the top prep pitching prospects in the nation and you can make a case for the 6-foot-9, 215-pound southpaw to be the top arm in Illinois, regardless of class, on any given day. We saw him bump his fastball up to 91 mph at the PBR Midwest Fall Championships in September and he also showed a swing-and-miss slider that’s reached a peak spin rate of 3,000-plus rpm. 

Noah Schultz (9/13/20)

As for Izzi, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander is a major arrow-up prospect in the class that recently debuted on our updated national rankings at No. 156 overall. He represented Team Illinois at the PBR Future Games this past August and committed to Wichita State shortly after. Izzi also attended our Joliet Preseason I.D. two weeks ago, where he consistently sat at 92-94 mph with his fastball and showed improved feel for his slider too. 

Ashton Izzi (8/2/20)

The senior depth that Oswego East has alongside both Schultz and Izzi is impressive. RHP Cole Collander and RHP Christian Jensik are both ranked arms in the state’s senior class with impressive arsenals in their own right. Collander is a sturdy 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete with a fastball that’s been up to 85 mph in previous looks. As for Jensik, he emerged as a winner from our Unsigned Senior Showcase back in February after comfortably pumping his fastball at 88-89 mph and showing a sharp, well-spun breaking ball at 75-77 mph, too. RHP/OF Austin Miller is another ranked name in the state’s senior class that’s showcased a low- to mid-80s fastball in the past and is yet another quality arm that’ll log innings for the Wolves. This staff, from top to bottom, is among the deepest in the entire state, regardless of classification. 

As stated above in our ‘Stat Rat’ category, the Wolves are expected to surround their deep pitching staff with eight senior starters on a day-to-day basis. Patrolling the outfield for them is an athletic trio that could all see time at the top of their lineup in some capacity: Camden Ruby, Jackson Lamboley, and Donovan Zielke

Parkland JC commit Jonas Gulbrandsen is currently penciled in as the projected starter at shortstop for Oswego East. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound athlete is a sure-handed defender that can slot in at multiple spots on the infield if needed, although the six-hole figures to be his home for the time being. Joining him up the middle is Anthony Dudzinski, yet another senior infielder that should compliment Gulbrandsen nicely with the glove at second base. Rounding up their defensive up the middle is Joey Hansen, a senior backstop that will have the challenging task of navigating all the talent this team possesses on the mound. Nick Caruso is expected to lock down the hot corner for Oswego East and provide impact contributions offensively as a middle-of-the-order bat for this Wolves’ offense, while the aforementioned Collander will play first base when he’s not on the rubber.

BOTTOM LINE

The Wolves will rely on their deep pitching staff to anchor them throughout the spring, especially when conference play and the IHSA playoffs begin. They have two true lock-down aces in Schultz and Izzi that give them a chance to win each game they toe the rubber, respectively, and the arms they’ll trot out along with those two are impressive as well. How far they go will ultimately fall on the shoulders of a senior-heavy bunch that will likely all take the field in tandem for the first time, but this team is certainly capable of making a run at the Southwest Prairie Conference title and potentially beyond if their offense starts to click.

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Wolves below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN