Baseball: Cary-Grove's Priester impressing MLB scouts
Quinn Priester draws a crowd whenever he takes the mound.
A slew of Major League Baseball scouts point radar guns at the Cary-Grove senior right-hander's every pitch and chart the effectiveness of a potential first-round draft pick who boasts mid-90s velocity offset by a sharp curveball.
The future is bright for Priester regardless of draft slot. He has been committed to the successful Texas Christian baseball program since his sophomore year. TCU appeared in four straight College World Series between 2014-17.
The 18-year-old said he remains focused on pitching and hitting for the Trojans. The rest will take care of itself.
"Honestly, it's a really cool opportunity but I really have to block it out," Priester said after a 4-3 win over Huntley Saturday. "My goal is to go out and pitch as best I can right now for Cary-Grove and represent my high school as best I can when I'm on that mound or off that mound. Whether or not these scouts show up, I'm going to be pitching the exact same way, competing every single pitch for these guys next to me."
His coach said Priester handles the spotlight glare with a maturity level rare for his age.
"I don't know how you could handle it better," Cary-Grove coach Ryan Passaglia said. "I mean, I'm nervous for the kid but he's Cool Hand Luke."
DuKing it out: Batavia lost 2 out of 3 games to Lake Park in the inaugural DuKane Conference series for both teams this week.
While Lake Park coach Dan Colucci called the switch to the DuKane "a parallel move" from a competition-level standpoint for the Lancers and former DuPage Valley Conference teams Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North and Glenbard North, the new league is a step up for former Upstate Eight Conference teams Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North.
All eight DuKane baseball teams entered conference play with a winning record, whereas the UEC teams the Tri-Cities schools no longer play have a combined 5-23 record through Thursday.
"It's great to play better competition, even if that comes with losses like these," said Batavia senior Dylan Schick, who absorbed the loss Tuesday in a 3-1 decision against Lake Park, which placed third in Class 4A last season. "It is better to learn from these losses than to get wins that are not as competitive."
Batavia and St. Charles East do not need to be reminded what regular-season preparation can mean. St. Charles East won the UEC River last year and Batavia won 19 games, yet both were ousted in regional play by Marmion. The Cadets entered the postseason five games below .500 after a challenging season in the ultracompetitive Chicago Catholic League Blue Division.
"It's good. Every day is a challenge," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said of moving to the DuKane. "It's only going to help us in the playoffs."
Milestones for Coach J: Huntley baseball coach Andy Jakubowski recently won the 400th game of his 20-year career and 300th as Red Raiders coach.
Huntley is off to an 11-4 start following last year's Class 4A runner-up finish and 33-7 final record. Jakubowski, who previously coached at Rockford Boylan and Jacobs, is 405-301-2 overall and 310-186-2 at Huntley.
"I've been blessed with having great coaches and great players to make it happen and, obviously, I've been around for a long time," Jakubowski said. "It's a nice milestone but it comes back to our coaches and players buying into a system and our guys executing it."