Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 19 Sacred Heart-Griffin


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting 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: Sacred Heart-Griffin
Preseason Rank: No. 19
2019 Record: 21-11
Conference: Central State 8
IHSA Class: 2A
Head Coach: Nick Naumovich

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Sam Antonacci INF 2021 Heartland CC
Louis Bartletti OF/1B 2021 Quincy
Jayden Davis RHP/1B 2021 Illinois College
Paul Gilmore OF 2021
Nolan Healey OF  2021
Brannan Kraft RHP  2021 Lincoln Land CC 
Isaiah Thompson  OF/LHP  2021  Indiana State 
Mitch Dye  RHP  2022   
Jack Davis  RHP  2022   
Teddy Hobson LHP 2022  
Ramon Jimerson Jr.  OF 2022 Oklahoma

STAT RAT 

10. Head Coach Nick Naumovich returns 10 players with varsity experience to the 2021 roster. Arguably no other club across the state will have that many players with varsity experience this spring. A young team that won 21 games in 2019 is now experienced and ready to make a statement in Class 2A in 2021. 

UNDERCLASSMAN/PLAYER TO WATCH

With 10 returners with experience there is no clear underclassman to watch this spring. However, junior OF Ramon Jimerson Jr., who started in the outfield as a freshman is poised for a big junior season. Jimerson, an Oklahoma commit, is known for his offensive ability and should anchor the middle of the order around a number of other talented bats. 

Ramon Jimerson Jr. (3/20/21)

X-FACTOR

When looking at one player who could impact this squad in a number of ways, left/left, OF/LHP Isaiah Thompson, stands out. The senior Indiana State commit, ranked No. 22 in Illinois, is one of the top outfield prospects in the state and also possesses ace-type stuff on the mound. Thompson has a quick arm, pitches in the low-to-mid 80's and features one of the better breaking balls in the class, that plays as a true out-pitch. When not on the mound Thompson is a dynamic center-field defender, causes havoc on the bases and should hit towards the top of the order.

OUTLOOK

On paper, the Cyclones return as much experience as anyone else across the state and should be towards the top of the list when it comes to favorites in Class 2A. They boast two division I commits and a couple others who have the talent to finish there as well, after stops at their respective junior colleges. On the mound, the Cyclones should be plenty stout with Thompson and senior RHP Brannan Kraft at the top of the rotation. Kraft was one of their top arms as a sophomore and by all indications will be leaned on heavily once again. Another senior who should add depth to the staff is RHP/1B Jayden Davis, an Illinois College commit. An emerging junior arm to keep an eye on is Mitch Dye. Dye has a high-waisted, 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame and has seen his velocity tick up in a big way over the last couple of years. At this winter's Preseason All-State, Dye, a quick-worker, sat a lively 86-87 mph, touching 88 with a hard sinking changeup. Two other junior arms who will provide depth to the staff is RHP Jack Davis and LHP Teddy Hobson.

On the offensive side of things, the Cyclones should be particularly dangerous. The aforementioned Thompson and Jimerson are impactful bats that can hit for average and the occasional power. Senior infielder Sam Antonacci, arguably one of the top bat-to-ball left-handed hitters in the state, will be an anchor in the lineup as well. Antonacci, a Heartland CC commit, has advanced feel for the barrel, in unfazed by velocity and sprays hard contact to all parts of the field. He also has the ability to handle shortstop as well. Four other seniors who will help fill out the lineups are OF/1B Louis Bartletti, a Quincy commit, 1B Jayden Davis, OF Paul Gilmore and OF Nolan Healey. Gilmore is a well above-average runner who can put pressure on the defense and covers plenty of ground in the outfield. When Gilmore, Thompson and Jimerson are in the outfield at the same time, it gives them one of the top defensive outfields in the state. 

Sam Antonacci (7/7/20)

BOTTOM LINE

The expectations are high for the Cyclones entering the 2021 season and rightfully so. They are experienced, have plenty of high-level talent and should be one of the deepest teams in Class 2A. 2A continues to get deeper with the likes of Joliet Catholic, Normal University in the mix, along with a host of others but do not be surprised if Sacred Heart-Griffin is one of the four teams left standing in 2A come mid-June.


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

Find more information on the 2021 Cyclones below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ School Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN