Class Of 2023 Showcase: Quick Hits


By: Diego Solares & Peter Hamot
Illinois Scouting Staff

On Sunday, October 10, the PBR Illinois staff returned to The MAX Sports Complex to host the Class of 2023 Showcase. This annual event serves as an opportunity for prospects in the state’s current junior class to display their talents in front of our scouting staff prior to the start of the off-season. There were more than 60+ prospects that made the trip to The MAX on Sunday and participated in a pro-style workout in front of our evaluators.

For a complete look of which prospects were in attendance, and more details on the day, click HERE.

Now, at the event’s conclusion, our scouting staff has collaborated with a few notes from the day’s standouts inside this Quick Hits piece. Below you’ll find which players' performances caught the attention of our scouts and a brief nugget on them.

POSITION PLAYERS

+ Arguably the top prospect in attendance, CIF Graham Mastros (New Trier) continues to cement himself as one of the top right-handed power bats that is still on the market in the state’s 2023 class. Built at a physical 6-foot-2, 225-pounds with room to add even more muscle, Mastros kicked his workout off by running an impressive 6.73 in the 60-yard dash. He then proceeded to take the day’s loudest round of batting practice, thumping multiple balls deep into the pull-side gap at 98+ mph, peaking at 99.4 mph - leading the event by nearly five miles per hour. His furthest batted ball traveled 362 feet. He held his own on defense as well and showcased a strong, accurate arm that topped at 87 mph across the diamond. Mastros is amongst the state’s top uncommitted prospects.

+ Another top-65 player in the class, per our state rankings, impressed this past Sunday: OF Luke Stulga (St. Laurence). The multi-faceted athleticism that Stulga has inside a highly projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame is evident when he’s on the diamond. He ran a 6.72 in the 60-yard dash, peaked at 86 mph from the outfield, and nearly all of his Blast Motion numbers are in the upper-echelon of our new “Performance Tiers” feature inside each specific player profile. Stulga’s operation in the batter’s box is extremely controlled as he stays short to the baseball and comfortably sprays line drives right back up the middle.

+ OF Kevin Hall Jr. (Munster, IN) put together a strong all-around showing at The MAX on Sunday. Built at an athletic 5-foot-8, 160-pounds with clear compact strength attached, the left-handed hitting Hall kicked his day off with a fluid, athletic round of outfield defense. He showed impressive rotational acceleration in the batter’s box (25.1 g avg.) and attacked the pull-side gap with barrel after barrel during his BP round. Hall is a top-75 prospect in the current Indiana junior class.

+ A winner from this year’s Midwest Fall Championships at Grand Park, INF Sohrab Rezaei (University of Chicago Laboratory Schools) continues to trend upward after showing well at this event. He’s a quality athlete with some twitch in his muscle fibers that help him stay short and quick to the baseball in BP, repeating well while spraying line drives throughout. Rezaei’s most impactful asset may be his glove, as he took a polished round of infield defense with soft funnels and smooth feet throughout.

+ C Cameron Marson (Grayslake Central) led this group of backstops as the biggest standout to our staff. He’s built at a sturdy 6-foot, 190-pounds with easy strength in the batter’s box, repeating a short, quick swing on the barrel. Marson led all catcher’s from an arm strength standpoint, reaching a 76 mph from the crouch and popping an event-best 2.01 seconds thanks to a smooth, quick trigger to release.

+ OF Gianni Royer (Lake Forest) paced the entire event in the 60-yard dash, running a 6.69 on our lasers, and there’s plenty to project on his current game when paired with that level of athleticism. Royer’s comfort in the batter’s box is evident, as he confidently stepped in and took a polished round of BP, repeating a loose right-handed swing throughout while back spinning line drives off the barrel. His athleticism was evident in the outfield, as he attacked the baseball in a controlled manner and topped at 85 mph to home, which was one of the day’s best bullets.

+ CIF NJ Gott (Glenbrook North) has some intriguing gap-to-gap power potential inside a strong 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame. Gott’s batted ball data was amongst the day’s best in multiple categories, including average exit velocity (86.87 mph), average batted distance (260 ft.), and peak batted distance (353 ft.).

+ It’s easy to see the raw power nestled inside the left-handed barrel of 1B Blake Binkowski (Lincoln-Way East). A physical 6-foot-3, 225-pound athlete, Binkowski comfortably led the group with the day’s highest average batted distance (275 ft.) and his farthest hit ball traveled 351 feet, leaving his bat at 94.85 mph. He looks to elevate the ball to the pull-side gap in the batter’s box and certainly has upside as a power bat moving forward.

+ Making his PBR debut last Sunday, OF Amarion Paxton (Clifton Central) is an intriguing athlete that boasts an extremely physical and sturdy 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame. Paxton ran a 7.04 in the 60-yard dash, a noteworthy number given his size, and recorded the day’s hardest throw from the outfield at an 87 mph high. He produced multiple hard hit line drives in batting practice by simply flicking his wrists and throwing his hands at the baseball, squaring his best ball up at 93.40 mph.

+ OF Michael Penzone (Oswego) is a projectable 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete that looked the part during BP. He repeated a simple right-handed stroke with loose feel for the barrel and a knack for staying on plane through the zone, all while peppering line drives back up the middle.

+ Some other noteworthy bats from the event were INF Matt Spell (Brother Rice), 1B/OF Jayden Malone (Metea Valley), OF Dylan Harer (St. Viator) and SS/OF Easton Steck (Galesburg).

+ Spell is a 5-foot-9,175-pound right-handed hitter with a compact, muscle-bound frame. He showed above-average strength and bat speed from the right side of the plate, lining balls to all fields and registering a max exit velocity of 92.88 mph. He also ran a 7.27 60 and was 84 mph across the infield.

+ Malone, is a broad shouldered 5-foot-10, 175-pound athlete, who paced all hitters in average exit velocity (88.83 mph) and his short, level path to contact made for consistent line drives off the barrel. His Blast Motion metrics also slotted inside the upper echelon level of our “Performance Tiers”, leading the entire event in average hand speed (26.31 mph) and nearly did in average bat speed (73.04 mph) as well.

+ Harer, a switch-hitter, took some of the most polished rounds of BP on the day. It is a loose/whippy swing with a consistent level path from both sides of the plate and a top exit velo of 93.49 mph. The switch hitter’s swing looks almost identical from both sides and showed the ability to repeat.

+ Steck, a right-handed hitter, who worked out on the infield and in the outfield made some hard contact as well in his round of BP and ran a 6.97 60.

PITCHERS

+ A huge winner from today’s event was RHP/INF Josh Katz (Lane Tech), as he stood out on both sides of the ball. Built at an evenly distributed 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame, Katz made a strong impression with one of the best bullpen sessions on the day. The right-hander works from a loose ¾ slot with present arm-speed. Down the mound, Katz maintained direction to his target with a slight drop-and-drive lower half movement pattern. His fastball sat comfortably in the 86-87 mph range (T2493 rpm) with life through the zone and also flashed a tight 11/5 breaking ball at 73-77 mph (T2693 rpm) with the ability to land it for strikes. He also featured a changeup at 79-81 mph with swing and miss action when thrown at the bottom of the zone. Katz also ran a 6.97 in the 60-yard dash and led the entire event in max throwing velocity on the infield, firing two 89 mph strikes across the diamond to first base during his workout. 

+ RHP Xzavier Vargas (Lyons Township) appeared as an intriguing arm to follow moving forward. The right-hander possesses a quick arm that works from a high ¾ slot, while also moving athletically down the mound with a drop-and-drive lower-half. Vargas displayed a lively fastball that sat 80-84 mph and topped at 85 mph (T2352 rpm) with arm-side life and feel for the corners of the plate. Vargas featured two distinctly different breaking balls; an 11/5 curveball in the 66-68 mph range (T2393 rpm) and a slider with 10/4 action at 69-71 mph (T2359 rpm). To finish off Vargas’ four-pitch mix, he featured a fading changeup with feel for the bottom of the zone in the 73-75 mph range.

+ 3B/RHP Alex Day (Andrew) showed a relatively intriguing ceiling on the mound, standing at a lanky and projectable 6-foot-2, 180-pounds. Though he’s still fully harnessing his arsenal, Day’s fastball played at 83-85 mph in his ‘pen from a loose, whippy arm. His ability to spin his heater was noteworthy, as it averaged 2,300+ RPM while peaking at 2,510 RPM, per TrackMan. Day’s breaking ball also flashed late, sharp spin off an 11/5 plane when his wrist worked out front.

+ LHP Tate Roley (Morton) toed the rubber towards the end of the event and made an emphatic impression on our scouting staff in his PBR showcase debut. A lanky 6-foot-3, 185-pound southpaw, Roley showcased a high-upside arsenal paired with an equally projectable frame. Roley’s fastball sat at 85-87 mph throughout his pen, topping at 87.17 mph from a whippy ¾ slot. Though he’s still fully developing his secondary pitches, Roley’s slider did flash some sweeping action created from the angle at which his arm releases the ball. He’ll be a follow throughout the winter and into the IHSA season as a potential key contributor for Morton this spring.

+ The final ‘pen on Sunday was amongst the day’s best, as RHP Joseph Martin (Newark) solidified our preconceived notions of him with an impressive showing. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound right-hander bumped his fastball up to 87 mph, sitting at 85-86 mph throughout. Martin’s fastball characteristics are extremely analytically friendly, as he averaged roughly 19 inches of vertical break from a low release angle (4.71 ft. average) naturally creating upward vertical carry through the zone. Martin ripped off his mid-70s slider with fastball conviction and threw his changeup at arm speed, killing spin and averaging 17.6 inches of horizontal movement.

 

CLICK HERE for a look at the full roster and stats from the event.

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