2024 Top Prospect Games: Quick Hits


By Illinois Staff

On Saturday, the PBR Illinois team hosted the first event of its kind: the 2024 Top Prospect Games. In an attempt to gather the state’s best incoming freshmen in one place, the staff invited over 50 of Illinois’ rising Class of 2024 prospects to participate in the showcase. Today, we’ll be sharing our rapid analysis following the event, and it’s very clear that the future of Illinois baseball is in good hands.

QUICK HITS

POSITION PLAYERS

+ C Seth Impson (Springfield) is a switch-hitting catcher with athletic hands both at the plate and behind it. With a spray-type approach, Impson has a simple and handsy swing from the left side that stays inside the baseball, and he showed more pop with a stronger swing from the right side. Impson doubled to deep center field, from the right-side of the plate in his second at-bat of game play. Vocal leader behind the dish, natural actions as a catcher, takes pride in the position. Athletic receiver who plays with bounce.

+ Samuel Chapman (Woodstock) is an upside athlete at 6-foot, 150 pounds with a loose, connected left-handed swing that presents above-average bat speed. He plays aggressively and confident in the outfield and he recorded some of the day’s firmest throws home.

+ 3B Cash Campbell (Montini Catholic) has been on our radar for most of the 2020 calendar year. The corner infielder again showed some easy pull-side power out of a fluid left-handed swing. Campbell posted one of the top exit velocities from the tee at 92 mph.

+ 1B Tomas Valincius (Lockport) has advanced hands, both at the plate and at first base. His impressive hand/eye coordination help him land barrels from the left-handed batter’s box with relative ease, pounding line-drives into both gaps. Valincius also showed soft, receptive hands at first base and looks extremely comfortable navigating around the first base bag.

+ A physical athlete with high-end tools, C Randall Nauden (Marian Catholic) looks like a prospect to know inside this blossoming 2024 class. Nauden has an aggressive right-handed swing with bat strength and bat speed present, and he uses it to attack the baseball with intent. Defensively, Nauden showed one of the stronger arms from behind the plate on the day and, when he syncs up out of the crouch, it plays true and with carry.

+ OF/3B Savion Flowers (Kenwood) has built at an extremely projectable 6-foot, 154 pounds. He’s a left-handed-hitting athlete who played multiple positions and shows promise at both the outfield and third base. The swing is highly athletic – it’s short and easy and he repeats it well, generating hard line-drive contact from gap to gap. Flowers’ approach in the box is advanced, too. He has a strong sense of the strike zone and takes pitches out of the zone with confidence, looking comfortable the whole way. He’s a high ceiling 2024 prospect to know headed into the fall and his first spring of high school ball.

+ SS/2B Jameson Martin (St. Laurence) looks the part of a savvy middle infielder, with especially soft hands that work well on the move, controlling his body well with athleticism as he ranges around the dirt. He’s also a right-handed hitter with a middle-of-the-field approach. In gameplay, Martin went 2-for-3 with an RBI double to center field, and he added a hard single up the middle later on. 

+ Per TrackMan, no prospect struck the ball harder on average than C/3B Collin Mowry (Lincoln-Way Central). Listed at an athletic 5-foot-10, 169 pounds, Mowry gets the most out of his right-handed swing, averaging an 89.8 mph exit velocity during batting practice, with an average carry of 282.3 feet. Defensively, behind the plate, Mowry has a plus arm for his age that carried through the infield at 78 mph, all while displaying accuracy. His athleticism makes him mobile and quick on the reception and out of the crouch, as he carefully sticks pitches on the edge of the zone. Mowry also took a smooth and athletic round of defense on the infield, too, with those same soft and athletic hands that helped him get to his big arm strength. He’s a useful, versatile defender with right-handed pop to know this early in the Class of 2024.

James Novakovic (New Trier) is a 6-foot, 156-pound, left-handed-hitting shortstop who showed loose hands and a lot of hard, lifted contact to the pull-side during BP. Novakovic had the second-best average distance traveled off the bat during BP at 245.86 feet, according to TrackMan. During gameplay, Novakovic showed his ability to use the whole field, staying inside the baseball and lining a single through the left-side. Defensively, he is a bouncy defender with the range and hands to stick at shortstop.

+ Lincoln-Way West’s Cole Crafton is quickly earning some attention belonging near the top of this class unofficial rankings. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Crafton swings an electric bat, fit with premium bat speed, connecting loose barrels with an up-the-middle approach. He showed an innate ability to stay within himself while generating high-end bat speed, attacking the baseball. Defensively, Crafton’s arm carries across the diamond with accuracy, and he has soft hands and athletic actions that should keep him stick on the dirt long term. Naturally, the arm strength translates to on-mound success, where he filled up the strike zone and was 81-83 mph, touching 84, in his lone inning of work.

PITCHERS

+ At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, RHP Ryan Sloan (York) has a lanky and projectable frame. Sloan’s arm action is extremely live for his age; a long-levered arm path creates advanced life through the zone, with arm-side run and ride that he showed the ability to control, while sitting 80-83 mph. The aforementioned arm action suggests his slider should complement his arsenal well. The pitch plays well out of his arm slot with a 10/4 shape, short action, tight spin, that he showed the feel to spot at 69-70 mph. 

+ LHP Jackson Ugo (Andrew) is a high-upside, low-effort arm that plays loose and clean out of 6-foot, 150-pound frame. The fastball features late arm-side action at 75-78 mph and he also utilizes an advanced breaking ball thrown with real feel. The pitch works off a 2/8 plane, thrown with aggression, at 67-70 mph with an average spin rate of roughly 2,000 rpm.

+ RHP/INF David Cox (Nazareth Academy) has two-way appeal at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, equipped with a live and loose arm. That arm strength plays well with carry through the infield on defense, and it also helped him strike out the side in his inning of work following a couple walks to start the frame. Cox’s fastball sits 75-78 mph, touching 79, at an average spin rate of  2,000 rpm, with finish through the zone. Cox didn’t throw many offspeed in his outing, as his long levers helped him gain some deception on the fastball, enough to earn the swings and misses it took for him to K three straight. At the plate, from the right side, Cox walked twice and lined out hard to second base, showing there’s some upside to uncover from the batter’s box too.

+ Another live-armed two-way player to follow: C/RHP Angel Jimenez (Disney II Magnet). Jimenez’s arm strength shows especially well on the mound, with a clean, low-effort arm action that produces run and sink at 80-83 mph from a ¾ slot. He made quick work of a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of punchouts. When he’s not pitching, Jimenez is also an athletic receiver with natural actions for the position. He’s quick and clean from the chute all while being consistently on target, aided by his inherent arm strength. In gameplay, Jimenez threw out a base-stealer at third.

+ Two-way player Henry Brummel (Pontiac) really impressed on the mound on Saturday from an easy tall-and-fall delivery, with a loose quick arm that works out of a high ¾ slot. Showed excellent feel for the fastball at his age, that flashed late sink action at 78-82 mph. He pairs the fastball with an 11/5 curveball and feel for a fading changeup at 72-75 mph.

CLICK HERE for a look at the entire roster from the day.

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