Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 22 Yorkville


By Andy Sroka
Illinois & Wisconsin Assistant Director

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 begins today.

Team: Yorkville
Preseason Rank: No. 22
2021 Record: 17-13-1
Conference: Southwest Prairie (West)
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: Tom Cerven

roster preview

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Connor Corrigan 3B/RHP 2022 Aurora
Gavin Dobbels 2B 2022 Ashland
Michael Hilker Jr. RHP 2022 Wisconsin-Whitewater
Lorenzo Rios C 2022 Presbyterian
Owen Ross SS/RHP 2022 Kirkwood CC
Adam Klemm INF 2023 -
LeBaron Lee Jr. LHP/1B 2023 Illinois State
Nate Harris INF/RHP 2024 -
Simon Skroch LHP 2024 -

 

NEWCOMER TO WATCH

+ INF/RHP Nate Harris (2024): There might be an ace in the hole in Yorkville’s dugout – the sophomore Harris exited February's Preseason All-State showcase with some of the event’s loudest buzz. He's listed at a muscular 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and yet he’s a 6.82 runner who showed repeated bat-to-ball skills during batting practice that maximizes his inherent strength from the right side. During infield defense evaluations, Harris recorded a 92 mph high to first base and, because he earned innings on the mound for his travel club last summer, it could make him a two-way weapon for the Foxes to fire in 2022. They won’t be counting on this talented sophomore to thrive right away this season, but he just might anyway.

X-FACTOR

(3/20/21)

+ C Lorenzo Rios (2022; Presbyterian commit): (Scouting Report from 3/1/21): “[Rios] is an impressive looking 6-foot-1, 195-pounds and was arguably the best 2022 hitter in attendance. A left-handed hitter, Rios has above average bat strength and speed and created consistent hard contact throughout his round. He’s an in rhythm hitter that showed no problems finding the barrel with consistency and authority. Defensively, Rios showed equally as well behind the plate as he did on the infield while his arm was among the event's best in both spots; 79 mph from the crouch and 85 from across the infield.”

OUTLOOK

Young in 2021, the Foxes are able to return many of the pieces that helped them collect 17 wins last spring which molds them into a contender this season. A sturdy senior-led foundation powers Yorkville, backed by experience: RHP Michael Hilker Jr. (Wisconsin-Whitewater), SS/RHP Owen Ross (Kirkwood CC), 3B/RHP Connor Corrigan (Aurora), 2B Gavin Dobbels (Ashland), and the aforementioned Lorenzo Rios. 

Their inexperience and youth made for a turbulent 2021 season, but one that was ultimately very successful. They started hot, winning nine of their first 11 games, but struggled in May before rebounding in the postseason. The Foxes made it all the way to the Sectional title game where they were downed by the eventual 4A champs Plainfield East, pinning them on the ropes with three outs to go holding onto an 8-3 lead. Losing that late lead underscores how their inexperience may have cost them in 2021, but can now be considered a strength in 2022. Those seniors like Ross, Dobbels, and Corrigan were counted on as middle-of-the-order contributors in 2021, and while they graduated a couple other top-of-the-order hitters, they’re welcoming in transfer Rios. And with all this being stated, their lineup isn’t even necessarily their greatest asset, it’s the pitching they return.

Owen Ross (6/20/21)

Hilker Jr. broke out last spring and earned his status as the team’s go-to arm as a junior. He’s back in 2022 to head the rotation, behind fellow senior Corrigan, and talented sophomore LHP Simon Skroch. Corrigan was the one who pinned down Plainfield East through six innings in last year’s Sectional championship game, before running out of steam at the very end. Skroch, on the other hand, earned varsity action as just a freshman in 2021 and he’s due for an increased role in the rotation this season. Last year, Skroch pitched a substantial 34.2 innings as a freshman on varsity, recording a very respectable 3.64 ERA with 48 punch-outs. Walks were something of an issue for Skroch in 2021, but based solely on a recent bullpen at February’s Preseason All-State event, there’s reason for optimism. There, he was up to 84 mph while throwing three pitches for strikes, and the changeup in particular looked like an offspeed weapon.

That trio combines to form a dependable staff with high-end relief options, in the form of senior shortstop Ross, who has always shown big velocity on the infield that has translated to high-leverage relief success at Yorkville – and he’ll hit right in the heart of the daily lineup, too. And keep in mind, junior LHP/1B  LeBaron Lee Jr. (Illinois State) is here as well. Fresh off an excellent basketball season, Lee Jr. is a sturdy 6-foot-4 southpaw who was reportedly into the mid-to-upper 80s in the summer and fall of last year. He could carve out more regular work for himself sooner than later, which would only bolster this impressive staff.

BOTTOM LINE

The depth on this staff is significant, and the experience gained in 2021 should help them jumpstart themselves this spring, much like they did last year, only with a greater chance of sustaining that success throughout the long season. The lineup doesn’t have that same kind of depth, but the top of it commands the opposing pitcher’s respect. It’s a talented senior core that should balance out the excellent rotation, providing the arms some breathing room game to game. Yorkville was three outs away from a Sectional title in 2021, and many of the same names that were heartbroken that day are back this spring to make sure they claim the hardware this time, with preseason goals aimed even higher.

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

Find more information on the 2022 Foxes below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN