Prep Baseball Report

Updated and Expanded 2016 Illinois Rankings

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Illinois’ 2016 class is quickly becoming one of the state’s most exciting group of prospects in recent years. This crop of sophomores features high-end national talent and impressive overall depth. And the scary part is we have only begun to scratch the surface of this class.

That point became abundantly clear over the last three months when we attended numerous camps, practices and showcases. More and more new names emerged, while many prospects made significant leaps in their games.

The 2016 class also seems to be on an accelerated track than past classes. Certainly part of it has to do with the fast-track recruiting process these days, but the bottom line is schools wouldn’t be offering sophomores if they weren’t deserving. Already nine prospects in the 2016 class have made their verbal commitments, including five of the top 10.

After a long off-season in which we’ve seen hundreds of sophomore prospects all over the state, we have updated and expanded the 2016 rankings. It was amazing to us how many previously unknown players emerged over the last three months, which made the process that much more difficult. In many instances, players did nothing to have their rankings drop; there were just a lot of new prospects put into the mix.

With so much high-level talent in the class, the top 10 can be somewhat interchangeable. But from what we saw this offseason, a clear new No. 1 prospect has taken the fore: RHP/3B Cal Coughlin (Carmel HS). The physically impressive 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is a high-level prospect both as a switch-hitting 3B and on the mound. Coughlin stole the show at the Preseason All-State Showcase when he earned top prospect honors among all 2015 prospects. Coughlin, who had been out with a back injury, sat 90-92 mph with little effort, and showed four-pitch feel. He also demonstrated power potential from both sides of the plate, to go along with a strong arm from third base (86 mph) and ran a 7.10 60.

Frankly, a Herculean showing was needed to usurp RHP Drake Fellows (Joliet Catholic Academy HS) from the top spot. The 6-foot-5 Vanderbilt recruit is one of the top prospects in the nation and has the current talent and future upside to become something extremely special down the road.

Both SS Nick Derr (Geneva HS/Florida State) and SS Tyler Fitzgerald (Rochester HS/Louisville) are also elite national prospects. Derr is arguably the best offensive prospect in the state, as he showed at the Underclass Invitational, when he showcased an explosive bat and ran an all-time event-best 6.63 60. Fitzgerald is an extremely athletic and projectable prospect who has all the tools to stick at shortstop at the next level.

A prime example of the top-end strength of this class is RHP Brenden Heiss (Jacobs HS). I can’t ever remember having a sophomore pumping 90-92 with all-around electric stuff and be ranked No. 5 in the class. Same goes for RHP Anthony Holubecki (Kaneland HS/Notre Dame), a long-limbed 6-foot-4 right-hander who was sitting 89-90 at the Underclass Invitational. Offensively, 3B/1B/RHP Joe Polak (Quincy Notre Dame HS) is a clear standout with his power potential.

The 2016 class also features a lot of catching depth. Cooper Johnson (Carmel HS) has emerged as the top backstop in the class after his showing at the Underclass Invitational, narrowly edging out Sam Ferri (Niles Notre Dame HS/Notre Dame commit), AJ Lewis (Mount Carmel HS), Danny Oriente (Downers Grove South HS), Cal Elvers (Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin HS), and Bryce Gray (Homewood-Flossmoor HS).

The two biggest risers in the class are OF Jack Wassel (Geneva HS) and SS/RHP Brandon Bossard (Nazareth Academy), who jumped into the top 20 after being previously unranked. Other big risers include: 3B/RHP Joe Dittmar (Richmond-Burton HS), RHP Ryan Hodgett (St. Francis HS), RHP Garrett Acton (Lemont HS), 1B Christian Bullock (Morgan Park HS), LHP Brandon Petersen (Waubonsie Valley HS), RHP/OF Austin Galindo (Normal University HS), RHP Brady Huffman (Genoa-Kingston HS), LHP Ty McCulloch (Downers Grove South HS), LHP/1B Jack Suwinski (Taft HS), and RHP Reese Dolan (Mundelein HS), to name a few.

Enough reading about. See for yourself.

Rank Name State School Class Pos Commitment
1 Cal Coughlin IL Carmel 2016 3B
2 Drake Fellows IL Joliet Catholic Academy 2016 RHP Vanderbilt
3 Nick Derr IL Geneva 2016 SS Florida State
4 Tyler Fitzgerald IL Rochester 2016 SS Louisville
5 Brenden Heiss IL Jacobs 2016 RHP
6 Cooper Johnson IL Carmel 2016 C
7 Anthony Holubecki IL Kaneland 2016 RHP Notre Dame
8 Joey Polak IL Quincy Notre Dame 2016 3B
9 Sam Ferri IL Notre Dame 2016 C Notre Dame
10 AJ Lewis IL Mount Carmel 2016 C

>> Illinois 2016 Top 125 Player Rankings

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