5 players who could be 2025 Daily Chronicle Player of the Year – Shaw Local

The Daily Chronicle looks ahead to the 2024-25 sports season and five different player of the year competitions. Today we look at five potential baseball players of the year.

With the returning player of the year back, it doesn’t seem like an open race for the Daily Chronicle 2025 Baseball Player of the Year.

But for all the outstanding numbers HInckley-Big Rock’s Martin Ledbetter put up this season, it was a close call between him and DeKalb’s Jackson Kees for the award. Throw in a handful of up-and-coming dark horse candidates, and it’s a race that’s exciting.

Martin Ledbetter, sr., 1B/C/P, Hinckley-Big Rock

For three years, Ledbetter has put up eye-popping numbers and has been a Daily Chronicle All-Area first-team selection, including Player of the Year honors this year. He hit .507 with six homers and a 1.576 OPS as a rookie. His numbers dipped after launching 12 home runs with a 1.911 OPS and a .563 batting average as a sophomore, but much of that was because teams started walking him a lot more. This past year, he hit .492 with nine home runs and a 1.774 OPS.

All that offense, and he pitches too. He had some arm issues that kept him off the mound a lot this year but was 2-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 21⅔ innings, striking out 49 and walking 16.

With multiple offers from mid-level NCAA Division I teams, including Cincinnati and NIU, Ledbetter is poised for a big 2025 and a repeat Player of the Year nod.

Jackson Kees, sr., P/SS, DeKalb

Kees is the reason this is such an exciting battle going into 2025. The DeKalb ace is a three-time all-area selection, including the last two years on the first team. He plays the notoriously difficult position at the high school level very well, finishing with a .951 fielding percentage this season. He hit .387 and drove in 31 runs while going 6-4 on the mound. He had a 2.43 ERA and struck out 78 while walking 23 in 57⅔ innings.

The Barbs were a young team last year that should only get better. And with everyone around Kees poised for bigger and better seasons, that can only mean great things for the stalwarts of the DeKalb lineup over the last three seasons.

Tyler Townsend, jr., OF/P, Sycamore

As the season progressed for the Spartans, the role Townsend played continued to grow as Sycamore made its third straight supersectional. He made the second team all-area selection.

He took over as the No. 2 starter and finished 1-1 with a 1.44 ERA and a save in 34 innings, third most on the team. He struck out 36 and walked 13. He also hit .250 with a pair of home runs.

With an increased role on the mound more likely, if he can make a leap offensively while the Spartans have the on-field success they’ve had the past two seasons, he could have a big role in that success.

Davis Collie, sr., 1B, Sycamore

This list could include even more Sycamore players like Kyle Prebil, a rising senior third baseman and outfielder, but Collie, a first-team all-area selection, gets the nod after a productive junior campaign.

Collie had a 1.051 OPS, tops on the team among players with more than three at-bats. He hit .371, hit three homers, drove in 32 runs and scored 27 times. He is expected to be sizzling in the middle of the Sycamore lineup with great potential to once again produce big offensive numbers.

Skyler Janeski, Jr., P/SS. Hinckley-Big Rock

One of the smallest schools in the area puts two players on the roster. But considering what Janeski did in the backfield as just a sophomore, that makes him someone who could turn even more heads as a junior.

Janeski did not allow an earned run in Little Ten Conference play, even pitching a no-hitter against Newark. He finished the year 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA, striking out 74 and walking 26 in 46⅓ innings.

If his offense makes a leap — he hit .272 this year — and his pitching dominance expands beyond Little Ten country, he has a chance to be in the mix for player of the year in a very qualified field.

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