Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2021 Rankings Updated

By Andy Sroka & Drew Locascio
Illinois Staff

At the start of September, our PBR Illinois staff released the first edition of the state’s Class of 2021 Rankings. We’ve had ample opportunities since then to update and expand upon the state’s sophomore board, including a handful of fall showcases as well as the PBR Fall Championships tournament.

With that, we’re releasing the second edition of the Class of 2021 Rankings and expanding the board by 15 prospects, to a top 40. There are also a couple of high-profile commitments among these top-ranked sophomores to report on today.

We’ll start by discussing Illinois’ top-ranked sophomore: 3B/RHP Vytas Valincius (St. Laurence), who recently committed to South Carolina. There isn’t much else to say about Valincius since we last outlined his status as the top sophomore in the state – and among the top-25-ranked 2021s in the nation. This fall Valincius continued to prove he has one of the top bats in the Midwest and in October, PBR National Crosschecker Shooter Hunt, was able to get his eyes on him against high-level competition. According to Hunt, Valincius “screams power projection” and noted how well the 6-foot-3, 240-pound, sophomore moves light on his feet at third base despite his extra-large, imposing frame. If Valincius is able to stick at the hot corner, it will only help elevate his stock even more moving forward.

Vytas Valincius (10.6.18)

The top-10 rankings within this class looks extremely similar to the September update, meaning Louisville commits SS Noah Smith (Marist) and RHP Landen Looper (Lincoln-Way East) are ranked back-to-back at Nos. 2 and 3 once again. Both players should have a chance to make a big impact this upcoming spring, for two high school programs with legitimate 4A state title hopes.

With Valincius having announced his commitment, we now have a new top-ranked uncommitted sophomore in Illinois: RHP Brennyn Cutts (Toledo-Cumberland). The 2018 PBR Future Gamer is on the rise headed into the offseason, after showing well at both the Underclass Games in July and the aforementioned Future Games, which we covered extensively in September. Cutts is built at a highly-athletic 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, and has a clean, quick arm, mid-80s fastball along with a hard-biting breaking ball.

top 10 board

1 Vytas Valincius IL St. Laurence 2021 CIF/RHP South Carolina
2 Noah Smith IL Marist 2021 SS Louisville
3 Landen Looper IL Lincoln-Way East 2021 RHP Louisville
4 Brennyn Cutts IL Toledo-Cumberland 2021 RHP
5 Nick DeMarco IL St. Charles North 2021 INF/RHP Notre Dame
6 Tyler Fullman IL Marian Catholic 2021 RHP
7 Ryan Kraft IL Lincoln-Way Central 2021 LHP/OF Indiana
8 Cory Ronan IL Routt Catholic 2021 LHP/OF
9 Adam Dowler IL Oswego East 2021 LHP
10 Drew Gray IL Belleville East 2021 OF Arkansas


The No. 5-ranked Nick DeMarco (St. Charles North) is the other top-10 prospect who has committed since the September update. DeMarco verbally committed to Notre Dame in late October. Demarco balanced football and baseball this fall and helped his high school’s football team reach the IHSA 7A state title game for the first time ever. He actually took over the backfield for his older brother Sam, a senior, who went down with an injury midseason. The North Stars predominantly featured DeMarco at running back where he racked up nearly 900 rushing yards and tallied five touchdowns on the season.

Back on the diamond, DeMarco is among the top two-way talents in the state. He consistently finds the barrel and possesses a quick-twitch, compact swing from the right-handed batter’s box. The St. Charles North sophomore has been up to 87 mph on the mound and has flashed feel for a sharp slider. After starring for the North Stars on both the gridiron and baseball field in 2018, DeMarco remains one of the top 2021 prospects in the state.

Nick DeMarco (7.23.18)

Physical RHP Tyler Fullman (Marian Catholic; uncommitted) once again comes in at the No. 6 spot. Fullman, has been on the radar for a long time and nothing has changed since the initial update. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound, right-hander has a clean, easy arm and works comfortably in the mid-80s. There looks to be plenty more velocity in the tank and his stock will only continue to ascend as he refines his offspeed repertoire.

Three lefties hold onto their No. 7, 8, and 9 rankings since the September update: Ryan Kraft (Lincoln-Way Central; Indiana), Cory Ronan (Routt Catholic; uncommitted), Adam Dowler (Oswego East; uncommitted). All three are highly-projectable and feature low-to-mid-80s fastballs with above-average offspeed offerings. Kraft, who headlines this crop of lefties, has a loose, easy arm with some of the best pitchability and feel in the class.

Finally, we welcome the lone newcomer to the top-10 rankings: Arkansas commit OF Drew Gray (Belleville East). Over the last year, Gray launched himself onto the top of the state’s pile of sophomore outfielders. Gray, who started as a freshman for Belleville East this past spring, is a long, loose, high-ceiling, outfielder. The left/left prospect is a fluid athlete, that hits with rhythm and creates bat speed with his loose, whippy levers. Defensively, he floats around the outfield and has a strong, accurate arm. The Belleville East prospect committed to Arkansas back in the spring and will be one to watch over the coming years.

CLICK HERE for the complete Illinois Class of 2021 rankings.

Stay tuned over the coming days for a look at the top newcomers to the updated top-40 board and some players who just missed the cut but should be followed moving forward.