Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 4 Mount Carmel


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: Mount Carmel
Preseason Rank: No. 4
2019 Record: 19-16
Conference: Chicago Catholic League - Blue
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Brian Hurry

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Sam Del Valle OF 2021 -
Tom Egan RHP 2021 Iowa Western CC
Gino Gazzillo DH/C 2021 Joliet JC
Martin Walsh OF 2021 -
Chris Whelton RHP/1B 2021 Belmont
Shane Curtin LHP 2022 Creighton
Elias Hachem RHP 2022 -
Julien Hachem LHP 2022  Oklahoma
Colin Horneman C 2022 -
Michael Kelly LHP 2022 -
Brandon Rogers OF 2022 Oklahoma
Colin Small INF 2022 -
Myles Supurgeci OF 2022 -
Jorgie Vazquez INF 2022 -
Jacob White INF 2022 -
Austin Mallee INF 2023  -

STAT RAT 

6-foot-8 & 6-foot-7: The listed heights of the highly physical twins LHP Julien and RHP Elias Hachem, respectively. The giant duo are expected to contribute largely to Mount Carmel’s pitching staff, which is arguably the most talented in the state. The lefty Hachem, Julien, is committed to Oklahoma and wields big arm strength, up to 89.4 mph at Preseason All-State, while featuring premium spin rates that add to its already substantial swing-and-miss capabilities on its own. Julien’s fastball averaged a spin rate of 2,469 rpm at an event last month, with hard arm-side action. He’s still harnessing the feel for his breaking balls and changeup, but he has the feel to mix often enough to keep batters off balance, as the fastball’s a prominent weapon on its own.

Elias, still uncommitted, was sitting 86-89 mph at that same showcase last month, up to 90 mph. While Julien’s profile feels like it’d be more effective in a lights-out reliever role, Elias’ repertoire could potentially be best served in a starter’s role. He pounded the bottom of the zone with his carry fastball that also spins at above-average rates. Elias also has sharpened his slurve-type breaking ball, and his sinking changeup makes for a viable three-pitch mix.

Elias Hachem (3/20/21)

Regardless, these two juniors will be intimidating at-bats for opponents, further extending the outstanding arms that fill out the rest of the staff.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH

Junior OF Brandon Rogers transfers into Mount Carmel via Brother Rice where he’s continued to blossom on the gridiron, as his stellar athleticism has earned him starting opportunities at wide receiver, and he’s also earned next-level attention as a quarterback. Rogers first landed on the radar for his work on the diamond, as he represented Team Illinois at the PBR Future Games last year and committed to Oklahoma (for baseball) soon after. He’ll finish out the football season for the Caravan before transitioning to baseball, but Head Coach Brian Hurry will be eager to jot Rogers’ name into the starting lineup. The multi-sport athlete is one of the top-ranked players in the state, as well as a nationally ranked player, with sub-6.60 speed and twitchy right-handed bat speed and strength.

Given that the Caravan could use an offensive lift to balance out their obvious skill inside the rotation, Rogers’ impact to this daily lineup is a key component to Mount Carmel’s season.

Brandon Rogers (8/2/20)

OUTLOOK

The Caravan rotation should hoist this squad through the exhausting trek through the CCL, in addition to the competitive non-conference schedule this program is accustomed to playing. Led by senior RHP Tom Egan, this rotation has a case to be called the state’s best.

Egan, an Iowa Western CC commit, is an athletic 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, with advanced pitchability. He competes in the strike zone with an excellent fastball, sitting in the upper-80s, up to 90 in previous looks, with reports that he has been even firmer of-late. The peripherals on that fastball – like its spin and vertical break – suggest that it’s going to be a weapon on its own, and Egan adds to its effectiveness by locating it well. He backs it up with a high-spin slider, a tight swing-and-miss offering, as well as the feel for a separate curveball and effective change. He’s a prototypical No. 1 arm at this level.

Tom Egan (6/14/20)

There are a couple other quality candidates to occupy the No. 2 spot after Egan in the rotation, and both would be presumed No. 1s in the large majority of other pitching staffs: pop-up senior RHP Chris Whelton and junior LHP Shane Curtin. Whelton stole a ton of preseason attention at our Unsigned Senior event in February, where he was up to 91 mph with another high-spin Caravan fastball to recognize. Whelton has sharp breaking ball and advanced sinking changeup, too. Whelton committed to Belmont shortly following the event. Curtin is one of the top-ranked left-handers in the state’s 2022 class, and he’s repeatedly shown well for his advanced pitchability. He attacks the strike zone with mid-80s velocity from a loose, clean arm action that he repeats well. Curtin spins an above-average slider and uses his hard fading change as his go-to offspeed.

The stuff and pitchability with these three were enough to push this program inside the top-five on our Preseason Power 25 rankings – mixing in the Hachems only makes the rich richer. And there’s another junior southpaw here to further reinforce this rotation: LHP Michael Kelly. He was one of the winners of last month’s Preseason All-State showcase, where he was up to a clean and easy 88.9 mph, with the feel for three pitches, including a feel change and a curve with above-average spin traits.

Michael Kelly (3/20/21)

As previously mentioned, however, the Caravan could be in the search for some offense, as they’re lighter inside the lineup as compared to recent iterations of this lineup that’s featured MLB Draft-caliber talent. Outside of Rogers, who they’ll be without until the end of the football season, Mount Carmel will lean on junior OF Myles Supurgeci, who fits the lead-off man mold as a sub-6.70 runner with a barrel control right-handed bat, as well as additional juniors like C Colin Horneman, INF Colin Small, INF Jacob White, and INF Jorgie Vazquez. Horneman swings a loose right-handed bat while playing an athletic backstop that will capably receive these stand-out starters on staff, so his importance to the team cannot be overstated. Vazquez swings a fast, strong right-handed bat that should hit in the middle of this order, and he’ll be the team’s everyday shortstop as well.

Colin Horneman (3/20/21)

Seniors DH/C Gino Gazzillo and OF Sam Del Valle will be useful bats to fill out this daily order; Gazzillo has some twitchy strength in his hands and Del Valle is an above-average athlete who swings a smooth, rhythmic right-handed bat and will be able to capably play center field while Rogers is away.

Also, keep an eye out for INF Austin Mallee, a sophomore listed at an upside 6-foot, 185 pounds. He could earn a starting opportunity at third base, where he looks most comfortable on defense, with smooth hands and actions.

BOTTOM LINE

Coach Hurry’s constructed a winning culture inside the Caravan dugout since 2000, though Mount Carmel looks like a different kind of threat in 2021. We’ve been used to a collection of exciting offensive firepower inside Mount Carmel’s lineup, and they’re missing that kind of explosiveness in their order. Conversely, the Caravan’s rotation looks prepared to carry this unit through the CCL and beyond, equipped with the star-studded talent to earn this program some more postseason hardware.

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

Find more information on the 2021 Caravan below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN