By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Mount Carmel High School junior Alek Thomas was named Gatorade’s 2016-17 Illinois Baseball Player of the Year, for the first time in school history.
The prestigious award honors and recognizes not only outstanding baseball performances on the field from a player, but also a high standard of academic achievement and exemplary character off the field as a student.
Thomas is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award and with a win, would join the likes of former and current Major League Baseball superstars and past award-winners; Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo High School, Mich.), Jon Lester (2001-02, Bellarmine Preparatory School, Wash.), David Price (2003-04, Blackman High School, Tenn.), Clayton Kershaw (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas), Rick Porcello (2006-2007, Seaton Hall Preparatory School, N.J.) and Kris Bryant (2009-10, Bonanza High School, Nev.) who currently plays for the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs.
After leading his team to a 26-9 record throughout the regular season, Thomas earned a robust .470 batting average with five triples, 11 home runs, 43 RBI and 59 runs scored through 35 games.
The 5-foot-11, 179-pound junior outfielder led the Caravan in multiple categories and put his name in the record books by becoming the first baseball player in school history to earn a Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year award.
Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate to the youth organization of their choice and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support.