But by the following year, when he was touching 90 mph en route to a state title, the righty had emerged as the Wildcats' ace. The Roark brothers -- Dillon is one year younger -- and Wilmington won it all again two years later, with Tanner claiming MVP honors both times.
It was an impressive showing for the public high school in a town of about 5,000, an hour outside Chicago. Roark's athletic prowess wasn't limited to the diamond -- he was the starting quarterback and a "punishing" free safety, according to Feeney, in the fall -- but baseball was No. 1.
And, man, was he smooth in the field.
"He was lights-out as a shortstop. He could do it all," Feenway said. "He was as good as I've seen."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.