Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 6 Huntley


By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

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: Huntley
Preseason Rank: No. 6
2019 Record: 28-10
Conference: Fox Valley
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Andy Jakubowski

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Tyler Castro INF/RHP 2021 McHenry County JC
Jake Jakubowski RHP 2021 Heartland CC
Alexander Janke OF 2021 -
Eric Lin RHP 2021 Triton JC
Michael Moise RHP 2021 Triton JC
Trent Ottavino RHP 2021 Rock Valley JC
Aiden Pavoris RHP 2021  Oakton CC
John Persino III RHP 2021 Kishwaukee CC
Josh Good INF/RHP 2022 -
Adam Guazzo RHP 2022 -
Brandon Hanley C/INF 2022 -
Chase Jetel 1B/LHP 2022  -
Ryan Kelly RHP/C 2022 -
Michael Vitellaro LHP 2022 -
Brayden Bakes OF 2023 -
Ryan Bakes C 2023 South Carolina
Ryan Quinlan INF/OF 2023 -
Andrew Ressler RHP 2023 -
Malachi Papalanus RHP/INF 2024 -

STAT RAT

317: In a year where coaching will matter more than ever, the Red Raiders return head coach Andy Jakubowski and his 317 wins at the helm of the Huntley dugout – and 422 overall in his coaching career. We’re all in uncharted territory, navigating through a 2021 season having not played IHSA ball since 2019. Jakubowski’s experience should properly prepare the Fox Valley heavyweights for another rigorous season inside the conference, returning for more postseason glory.

UNDERCLASSMAN TO WATCH

The sophomore twins Ryan and Brayden Bakes are a pair of the most athletic and talented members of the state’s 2023 class. Ryan, committed to South Carolina, possesses some special strength inside his right-handed bat. Listed at a stout, strong 5-foot-10, 187 pounds, Ryan impacts baseballs that regularly leave his barrel in the 90-plus mph range, and he topped 101.2 max at a showcase last year. Ryan’s also a 6.70 runner and has been up to 84 mph out of the crouch, where he projects best on defense.

Ryan Bakes (1/31/21)

Brayden is nearly back to full health in 2021, and he’ll likely earn regular playing time in the outfield. He’s a left-handed hitter with a similarly impressive batted-ball profile and his athleticism works well in the outfield. Brayden’s among the top uncommitted players inside this ‘23 class, and he and his brother will have important run-production roles inside Huntley’s lineup, balancing out their rotation, which is among the deepest and most talented in the state.

X-FACTOR

INF Tyler Castro will be a key cog atop the Red Raiders’ everyday lineup, setting the table for some fellow seniors behind him, as well as the Bakes brothers who project to feature in the middle of this order everyday. Castro’s an athletic 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, who should be this team’s starting shortstop while operating as its lead-off man. Huntley’s pitching staff is as deep as it gets in the state, but they’re somewhat light offensively, as compared to some of the more recent editions of the Red Raiders’ lineup. Still, Castro at the top sets the table for a unit that should be able to score enough runs for their arms to seal the deal.

Tyler Castro (2/9/20)

OUTLOOK

Huntley is staffing one of the deepest pitching groups in the state, and we witnessed several of them break out this past winter, like juniors RHP Adam Guazzo and RHP/C Ryan Kelly. While this unit is stacked with a high number of potential contributors and inning-eaters, they’re without a slam-dunk ace-type arm to lean on – at least, prior to Opening Day. Guazzo has the stuff to turn into a No. 1 arm long-term for Huntley, even in his first year at the varsity level.

The physical 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty attacks the strike zone with upper-80s velocity, and he’s showcased the feel for a pair of different breaking balls, and a sinking changeup. Guazzo blossoming into this staff’s go-to arm would be a welcome development, but Kelly contains a similar upside.

Adam Guazzo (3/20/21)

Kelly showcased very well as a two-way player this past winter; he was up to 87 mph from the mound with an aggressive curveball and an effective straight change. He also swings a simple right-handed bat with intent, and this lineup could use another bat like his. It remains to be seen where Huntley will most often deploy Kelly, but he’s too talented to miss out on regular playing in some form.

The 2021 class will occupy a large portion of Huntley’s pitching staff, underscoring its depth: RHP Michael Moise, RHP Jake Jakubowski, RHP Trent Ottavino, RHP Eric Lin, RHP Aiden Pavoris, and RHP John Persino – and each of the aforementioned are committed to play some level of JUCO ball in the fall, too. Moise, a Triton JC commit, seems fully likely to earn the Opening Day start on the mound; he’s a mid-80s type with arm-side action and a sharp breaking ball and sinking change combo. Jakubowski is a tough at-bat, as an athletic submarine arm who attacks the strike zone, which allows his unique slot to help the rest of his arsenal play up. The remainder would be shoo-in mid-rotation starters on most other staffs, but they’ll have to compete against each other for regular innings – though, that’s a good problem to have for coach Jakubowski.

Michael Moise (8/11/20)

Expect sophomore RHP Andrew Ressler to see plenty of work in his first year at this level. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound righty came out hot at the McHenry I.D. back in late January, where he was up to 89 mph with the feel to land a sharp breaking ball for strikes, in addition to a complementary changeup. Having seen Ressler translate this kind of stuff in-game, there’s reason to believe the sophomore can break through the upperclass depth on staff to earn varsity starts in 2021.

Andrew Ressler (1/31/21)

So, it’s to be expected that Huntley will stifle opposing offenses, so its run creation will be pivotal to the team’s success by playoff time. Athletic senior OF Alex Janke is another key part to all this, as well as junior C/INF Brandon Hanley. Hanley’s athletic, smooth right-handed swing should translate into middle-of-the-order opportunities from the get-go at Huntley, and he can be one of this team’s difference-makers, as he’s already familiar with the varsity scene. Fellow juniors like INF/RHP Josh Good, LHP/1B Chase Jetel, and LHP Michael Vitellaro are even more depth arms to make note of, though Good and Jetel should also help cover the back half of the daily lineup efficiently.

There’s even more talent lurking in Huntley’s underclass, like sophomore INF/OF Ryan Quinlan and freshman RHP/INF Malachi Papalanus, and while both are follow prospects long-term, they’re also talented enough to break into this year’s team eventually – so stay tuned.

BOTTOM LINE

Huntley is, perennially, in the mix for the FVC crown and that’s no small feat. This is a conference that’s historically been able to produce an under-the-radar state title contender, and Huntley’s even been that team in the past. While they’re not flying under any radars anymore, the Red Raiders roster one of the deepest squads in Illinois, again, and they warrant respect as 4A state challengers again in 2021.

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

Find more information on the 2021 Red Raiders below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN