Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor


By: Peter Hamot
Area Scout

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on March 14, opening day for regular season action under IHSA regulations. Over the next two weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2022 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down 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 2022 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Homewood-Flossmoor
Preseason Rank: No. 4
2021 Record: 22-9
Conference: Southwest Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: John McCarthy

Roster Preview

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Waylon Deck RHP 2022 Heartland CC
Charlie Faoro INF/RHP 2022 Christian Brothers
Will Goldberg OF/LHP 2022 -
Jaden Jackson OF 2022 Joliet JC
Shane Jones 1B 2022 South Suburban JC
Shai Robinson SS 2022 Illinois State
Jason Ballard OF 2023 -
Niko Bilgi INF 2023 -
Breyan Brooks LHP/OF 2023 -
Carter Green LHP 2023 -
Tommy Haggerty RHP 2023 -
Dillon Head OF 2023 Michigan 
Preston Lund C 2023 -
Evan Nieter LHP 2023 -
Robert Tate INF 2023 -
Vince Waterman LHP 2023 Kent State


Key Players Lost

+ INF/OF Josh McAlister (2021; Ohio State)
+ RHP Keegan Buksa (2021; Heartland CC)
+ MIF Gallien Coupet (2021; Creighton)
+ RHP Chad Readey (2021; Northwestern)

X-Factor

(4/30/21)

OF Dillon Head (2023; Michigan commit): Returning to the lineup for the Vikings in 2022 is one of the top ‘23 prospects in the entire country, Dillon Head. As just a sophomore last season, Head provided the Vikings with an extremely versatile bat at the top of the lineup. The Michigan commit scored 40 runs in 30 games while hitting his way to a .358 batting average, demonstrating impressive bat-to-ball skills that plays well above his years; only striking out nine times in 95 at-bats. Head is also a game changer on the bases, leading the team with 25 stolen bases as a sophomore. Head boasts tremendous athleticism that easily plays out of the box on top of his 6.79 60-time, while taking aggressive angles around the basepaths that make his already impressive 60-time play that much quicker in-game. On top of the offense, Head brings lock-down center field defense to the table as well. His aforementioned athleticism makes him one of the best outfield defenders in the state, and he will also bring a mature presence to the defense on a daily basis, too. With all of the tools that Head possesses, don't be surprised if the talented junior puts up PBR All-State type numbers this spring. 

Outlook 

The Vikings have the luxury of turning the ball over to a plethora of talented arms, and their pitching should be a cornerstone in their overall success this coming season. The Vikings are returning a number of their top arms from the 2021 season to their staff in 2022, running out four quality starting pitchers each week. Do not let last year's ERA's on some their top arms fool you, as the Vikings played one of the toughest 4A schedules in the state. One of the most notable arms is the Kent State commit, LHP Vince Waterman (2023). Waterman is a talented southpaw with a high-level arm; he can work his fastball up to 87 mph which sets up a curveball and changeup combination, surely looking to profile as a pitcher that can miss bats deep into games. As just a sophomore, Waterman turned out 27.1 innings for the Vikings to go along with a 3.07 ERA, seeing most of his time in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen. With a full year of varsity experience under his belt, the Vikings will look to him as a leader engulfed inside their already talented rotation.

Vince Waterman (8/5/21)

RHP Waylon Deck (Heartland CC, 2022) returns after leading the Vikings in starts (eight) and wins with four. Deck features an impressive repertoire and will be looked at as one of the senior leaders of this staff. The right-hander’s fastball has swing-and-miss capabilities on it’s own, reaching up to 87 mph while topping out at 2,451 rpm. To pair off his fastball, Deck also features a pair of breaking balls (one being an above-average cutter)  with similarly impressive swing-and-miss characteristics, as well as a fading changeup that he is able to throw for strikes. The Heartland commit threw a total of 29.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA.

Waylon Deck (8/5/21)

Moving down the list of talented arms, we come to RHP Tommy Haggerty (2023). Haggerty is an uncommitted junior that also saw a noteworthy amount of work during the 2021 season. With a 3-1 record, 23 innings, 25 strike outs and a 3.95 ERA, Haggerty provided a reliable arm out of the bullpen for the Vikings all season. His fastball works easily into the mid-to-upper 80s – topping out at 89 mph, and should supply the Vikings with some firepower in the rotation this coming season.

Tommy Haggerty (6/27/21)

Two more members of the Vikings roster that will see some valuable innings this spring will be LHP Carter Green (2023) and OF/LHP Will Goldberg (2022). 

Green is an athletic southpaw that saw time on varsity as only a sophomore; compiling a total of 18.2 innings with 23 punch-out's. He is a polished arm, running his fastball up to 86 mph, and will be able to contribute heavily to the Vikings in 2022 with a full year of varsity experience under his belt already. 

Goldberg, a left/left two-way prospect, provides depth in multiple ways to Flossmoor’s roster. Last season, the uncommitted southpaw struck out 24 hitters in 19.2 innings, while also pitching to a 3.2 ERA. On the other side of the ball, Goldberg hit his way to an impressive .373 batting average with nine doubles and 27 RBIs during his 2021 campaign. Heading into his senior year, Goldberg is expected to contribute to the Vikings lineup every day, and will surely be an important part in their overall success - as he is expected to start in the outfield for the Vikings as well as on the mound.

Other names such as INF/RHP Charlie Faoro (Christian Brothers, 2022), INF/RHP Niko Bilgi and LHP Evan Nieter (2023) will be counted on out of the bullpen to provide quality innings late in games. 

Speaking of Charlie Faoro, the Christian Brothers commit will be seeing time on the infield, too. Faoro hit his way to a .313 batting average in 2021. Faoro's best attribute may be his defense and he will help round out some big losses across the infield, most likely locking down the third base position for much of the spring. 

The Vikings certainly have lost some of their main offensive contributors with the likes of Gallien Coupet and Joshua McAlister graduating, but they also return six of their starters from last year to this spring’s roster. While the lineup might not replicate the same extra-base power as some other teams in the state, they certainly still have a number of talented bats in the order that will make for tough outs and they will look to score runs in a variety of ways.

One of the most talented players in the state that will also be cemented in the heart of the Vikings lineup is SS Shai Robinson (Illinois State, 2022). The right-handed hitter has shown an increase in power over the last year, and will provide Flossmoor with a veteran bat on the rise; coming off a strong 2021 campaign where he batted .333 to go along with three home runs and 21 RBIs. Regardless of the offensive output, Robinson’s defensive capabilities are virtually unmatched, possessing some of the smoothest infield actions in the entire country as well as a plus arm that plays easy (T90 mph across the infield). He glides around the infield with ultra-clean actions and a very prominent confidence, and the Vikings should not have to bat an eye any time the ball is his in his general direction. 

Shai Robinson (2/6/22)

Names such as C/INF Preston Lund and 1B Shane Jones (South Suburban CC, 2022) return from last year's squad and will provide veteran experience. Lund, a talented catcher in his own respect, will be handling most of the heavy lifting behind the plate for the Vikings this season. Jones will also be relied on for a reliable bat in the middle of the order, finishing up the 2021 season with a batting average just under .300, seven doubles and 24 RBI's. Jones is also a patient hitter, walking more times than he struck out, good for a .436 OBP.

OF Jaden Jackson (Joliet JC, 2022) has been showing well this offseason and his dynamic speed could play a big role on the bases and in the outfield this spring. It looks like juniors Niko Bilgi and Robert Tate will battle for the second base spot and provide added depth across the infield. Junior Jason Ballard will provide depth in the outfield as well. 

Bottom Line

Toting one of the best starting rotations in the state, it is no question that the Vikings will be able to compete late in a conference series or in the playoffs thanks to their depth. The Vikings also have four quality left-handed arms that should see a number of innings throughout the spring, arguably more than any other 4A team in the state. However, the only hindrance they might face is their lack of power in the lineup, but don’t look for that to hold them back long enough to not compete for a State Title. The number of quality bats they still possess should not make for an easy match up for opposing pitchers, with quality bat-to-ball hitters throughout their entire lineup, as well as the pressure they will consistently be putting on the defense thanks to their team speed. As a young team in 2021, Flossmoor returns many of the same players - but with an entire year of varsity experience under their belt. Coach McCarthy has the pieces to make his furthest run yet as head coach of the Vikings.

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2022 season.

Find more information on the 2022 Vikings below:

Team Website
Team Schedule
Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN