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After a decade of watching local HS players fall short of their goals, Phil Apostle saw a need for kids to have real summer and fall experiences against top talent throughout the Midwest. He also noticed the lack of effort high school coaches put into the college search process. Thus, in the fall of 2007, Phil started the Chicago Jacks, an elite 16U travel/showcase team made up of players from six different high schools. The Jacks quickly took off, winning multiple tournaments over the next few years on the 16-18U tournament circuit.
Nine original Jacks members would go on to start in and win the 2009 Illinois State Championship for New Trier High School, while another five would play in college, something that was not an opportunity for some student-athletes without Phil's tireless work with college coaches. In 2012, an original Jack, Ben Klimesh, who oddly had been cut by his high school, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.
In 2008, Phil and Director of Baseball Operations Zach Martin opened AcademyELITE Baseball and the Jacks became part of AE. The program again doubled, boasting teams from 14-18U. Since then, AE teams have went on to win a dozen tournaments including an 18U DSP World Series in 2011. That same summer, AE's Charlie Tilson became the program's highest draft-pick to date when he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals early in the second round.
Under Phil's guidance as AE's Collegiate Recruiting Director, over 160 student-athletes have gone on to play college or pro ball worth over $7 million in scholarship money. In 2010, Phil and Zach founded the Homestead Ranchers -- a summer collegiate/semi-pro team -- for the dozens of players that were now playing in college who had played or trained with AE.
In 2013, all teams at every age group under the AE umbrella were rebranded as the Homestead Ranchers. The Ranchers also expanded to have teams from 13-18U. Keeping with AE's tradition of excellence, the 17U Homestead Ranchers went on to win two tournaments, as well as assist player recruitment and eventually signings at Northwestern, Villanova, Lehigh and Santa Clara, to name a few.
In 2015, the Ranchers hope to expand into 10U and 11U baseball.
For more info on Homestead Ranchers teams from 10-18U, please visit RancherNation.com. For info on our collegiate-semi-pro team, please visit HomesteadRanchers.com.
Directors/Who to Contact by Age Group
DIRECTOR OF BASEBALL OPERATIONS (ages 17U & 18U + College/Semi-pro)
(847) 858-8149 (text message friendly)
JUNIOR DIRECTOR OF BASEBALL OPERATIONS (ages 10-16U)
224.944.8534 (text message friendly)
Director of Collegiate Recruiting