Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 20 Joliet Catholic


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: Joliet Catholic
Preseason Rank: No. 20
2019 Record: 35-7
Conference: East Suburban Catholic League
IHSA Class: 2A
Head Coach: Jared Voss

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Drew Buss RHP 2021  
Brody Munch INF 2021  
Ben Stoner INF 2021 Wright State
Ryan Louthan C 2022
Luka Radicevich RHP/UTIL 2022
TJ Schlageter LHP 2023  
Trey Swiderski UTL 2023 Louisville


UNDERCLASSMAN TO WATCH

It’s hard not to expect big things from sophomore outfielder Trey Swiderski. Ranked No. 9 in the state’s 2023 class and 261st nationally, Swiderski boasts one of the loudest all-around profiles in the state, regardless of class. Built at a strong, barrel-chested 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, Swiderski has some of the best raw power in the class. On top of the offensive upside, the talented outfielder has seen his footspeed tick up (6.80 60), as well as his arm strength; topped at 93 mph from the outfield this winter. At the Underclass Invitational this winter Swiderski recorded an average exit speed off the bat of 97.57 mph during BP, best of the event. Swiderski provides an impact power bat in the middle of the lineup, given he is able to adjust smoothly to varsity competition for the first time.

X-FACTOR 

One of the top athletes on the Hilltoppers squad this spring should be RHP/UTIL Luka Radicevich. The wiry, live-bodied 6-foot, 170-pound uncommitted junior represented Team Illinois at the PBR Future Games this past summer and he’s improved his all-around arsenal since then. On the mound, Radicevich can run his fastball up to 90 mph with a hard slider that spins at an average of 2472 rpm, as well as an above-average changeup. Radicevich is just as talented as a position player. He can play all over the diamond, most likely manning centerfield this spring and his bat profiles somewhere towards the top of the lineup. Radicevichs ability to help all over the diamond will be imperative to the teams success this spring.  

Luka Radicevich (3/20/21)

OUTLOOK 

Perennially one of the state’s most competitive programs, this Joliet Catholic team doesn’t have the high-octane talent we’ve seen in the past, per say, but they’re still a talented bunch certainly capable of making some noise at the 2A level. 

Leading this senior class is Wright State commit Ben Stoner, a top-100 prospect in the state that brings varsity experience up the middle and talent to pair. He’s a high-waisted, athletically built 6-foot-2, 175-pound athlete with a top-of-the-order offensive skill-set and comfortable defensive actions. Stoner is slated to patrol the infield at shortstop and is one of the few members of this year’s team that has logged innings at the varsity level too, which is valuable to a team this young and inexperienced. Brody Munch is another talented senior who should slot next to Stoner on the left side of the infield at third base. Munch is an actiony defender who could slide around the infield if/when needed. 

Two juniors who will be key contributors on the offensive side of the ball are the aforementioned Radicevich as well as Ryan Louthan. We spoke at length about Radicevich's role on the club and Louthan's will be equally as important. Louthan, a left-handed hitting catcher, will be in charge of handling this year's pitching staff and providing some offensive punch somewhere in the middle of the order. Another junior who has impressed in our looks this winter but it is still unclear his role on this year's club is C/INF Lorenzo Rios. Rios' calling card looks to be a loose, quick left-handed bat that continues to ascend thanks to improved overall strength to his frame. 

Without having a 2020 season, things are still very much so up-in-the-air as far as roster and playing time this spring for the Hilltoppers this spring. Besides Rios, some other names that should give coach Voss plenty of options are senior OF Clemente Torres and juniors CIF Mike Ascencio, OF Dominic Coda and 1B Jackson Cullen

When it comes to the pitching staff, unsigned senior Drew Buss, is in line to handle the role of the teams ace. Buss has shown well in preseason workouts with feel for a three-pitch mix and a competitive nature that should be able to handle the lead role. Outside of Buss look for Radicevich and sophomore left-handed pitcher TJ Schlageter to get plenty of chances. Schlageter is one of the top southpaws we have seen to-date so far in the state. The multi-sport athlete is polished for his age, has an even-keeled demeanor on the mound, features an above-average three-pitch repertoire and a fastball in the low-80's. Another arm that was set to help last year's club and could provide depth this spring is senior, RHP/INF Gavin Sebby, committed to Black Hawk JC.

There are a lot of question marks entering the season but given the clip at which Head Coach Jared Voss' clubs have won at in the past (two state titles since 2009) there is no reason to expect anything different in 2021.

BOTTOM LINE

Joliet Catholic continues to trot out a competitive bunch that’ll look to keep this program’s winning pedigree going in 2021. Now at the 2A level, the Hilltoppers slot in as one of the early season favorites to take home the state title at their respective classification. 

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

Find more information on the 2021 Hilltoppers below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN