Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2021 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

This 2021 Illinois rankings update is one of the biggest rankings updates in recent memory. Thanks to an extensive showcase season the number of players ranked went from 175-to-250. There were a number of high-level 2021s who made big jumps over the winter as well as a number of new faces who emerged over the last couple of months, providing plenty of new names to the list as well. 

To begin our coverage of the Illinois 2021 rankings, we take an in-depth look at the updated top-10 prospects. We will breakdown much more of the rankings over the coming weeks, including some of the biggest risers and top newcomers to know. 

The top of the list remains the same with highly-athletic SS Noah Smith (Marist), holding down the No. 1 spot, once again. Smith, a Louisville commit, continues to add quality lean muscle to his high-waisted, 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame. Smith is a slick defender at a premium position and has all the tools to stick there moving forward. Smith showed well at multiple national events last summer and was selected to participate in this summer’s USA PDP (Prospect Development Program). The league brings some of the top draft prospects together and is a qualifier for the USA 18U National Team. Both Ed Howard (Mount Carmel) and Ben Hernandez (De La Salle), the top two prospects in the Illinois’ 2020 class, participated last summer and both eventually were selected to represent Team USA. 

The biggest riser at the top of the list was OF/LHP Drew Gray (Belleville East), who jumps from No. 6 to No. 2 in the state. Gray, an Arkansas commit, has long been known for his high-upside as a position player but it was his eye-opening performance on the mound at the Preseason All-State that has catapulted him to the top of the Illinois class. Gray, a high-waisted 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, has a long, loose and easy arm action and his fastball was jumping out of his hand at 87-89 mph, with much more in the tank. Gray also flashed a dynamic slider that is thrown with conviction at 79-83 mph and could be a swing-and-miss offering moving forward. Gray's performance this winter reconfirmed his status as one of the top prospects in the state and makes him a legitimate two-way prospect moving forward.

Drew Gray (2.9.20)

LHP Adam Dowler (Oswego East) and INF/RHP Nicholas Demarco (St. Charles North), mainstays at the top of the Illinois rankings, come in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.  Dowler, a Louisville commit, has long been one of the top arms in the state thanks to his 6-foot-4, 220-pound, durable frame, clean arm, fastball that climbs into the upper-80’s, along with one of the best slider’s in the class at 76-80 mph. Demarco, a Notre Dame commit, is a dynamic athlete that plays multiple sports and is a dual threat on the baseball field as well. Demarco runs his fastball up to 90 mph with a swing-and-miss curveball but he arguably is more talented as a position player. Demarco has advanced actions at shortstop, more than enough arm for the left-side of the diamond and profiles as a middle of the order type of bat. Demarco has a quick, twitchy swing from the right-side of the plate with power potential. 

The new No. 5 on the list is RHP Ben Hess (Charleston). Hess has a physical, 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and has been making a case this winter as the top arm in the state. Hess missed the Future Games last summer due to a lingering injury but committed to Indiana later in the fall and has continued to see his velocity and stuff tick up since. Reports have the durable right-hander sitting comfortably in the low-90’s with two advanced off-speed offerings this winter. Hess will be a must-see for pro scouts and ourselves whenever baseball resumes in Illinois. 

LHP Reed Gannon (Minooka) and RHP Brennyn Cutts (Toledo-Cumberland), two Future Gamers in the summer of 2019, hold the No. 6 and No. 7 spots in the state. Gannon, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound, Kentucky commit, sat an extremely easy 85-87 mph at the Future Games commanding the fastball at the knees and to both sides of the plate. Gannon also flashes a four-pitch repertoire giving him a starter profile at the next level. Cutts, an Indiana State commit, has a broad-shouldered, 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame and is one of the top power arms in the Midwest. Cutts has a clean, quick arm and gets late heavy action to his fastball which has sat 90-91 mph, touching 92 in the past. 

Reed Gannon (7.31.19)

6-foot-1, 198-pound, RHP Tyler Fullman (Marian Catholic), is another physical right-hander, who comes in at No. 8. Fullman, a Michigan commit, has a workhorse build with a thick lower half, clean arm and runs his fastball into the upper-80’s with minimal effort. 

The only new prospect to the Top-10 is left-handed hitting catcher, Ty Batusich (Joliet West), who comes in at No. 9. Batusich, a Western Kentucky commit, stood out at the Future Games last summer and only reaffirmed his status as one of the top bats in the class with his performance this winter at the Preseason All-State. Batusich has a knack for not only finding the barrel, but finding it with authority. Everything Batusich hit in his round of BP was on the screws and he flashed some of the best pull-side power in the class. On top of the head-turning BP, Batusich runs a 6.86 60, flashes sub-2.0 pop times and is 82 mph from the crouch. 

Ty Batusich (2.9.20)

SS Ryan Moermann (Lockport), an Illinois commit, and one of the steadiest producers in the class, rounds out the Top-10. Moermann has been a mainstay at shortstop for Lockport since his freshman year and his right-handed bat has only become more potent over the years. Moermann is calm and confident in the box and has started to flash pull-side power along with his advanced feel to hit. Defensively, he is a steady defender with smooth actions and a high baseball IQ.


1 Noah Smith IL Marist 2021 SS Louisville
2 Drew Gray IL Belleville East 2021 OF Arkansas
3 Adam Dowler IL Oswego East 2021 LHP Louisville
4 Nicholas Demarco IL St. Charles North 2021 SS Notre Dame
5 Ben Hess IL Charleston 2021 RHP Indiana
6 Reed Gannon IL Minooka 2021 LHP Kentucky
7 Brennyn Cutts IL Toledo-Cumberland 2021 RHP Indiana State
8 Tyler Fullman IL Marian Catholic 2021 RHP Michigan
9 Ty Batusich IL Joliet West 2021 C Western Kentucky
10 Ryan Moerman IL Lockport 2021 SS Illinois

for the complete Illinois 2021 rankings. 

Stay tuned over the coming days and weeks as we dive deeper into the Illinois’ 2021 class.