Prep Baseball Report

Class of 2021 Showcase: Quick Hits

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Sunday, Oct. 13th the Class of 2021 Showcase took place at The MAX in McCook, IL. The event was open to all high school juniors from across the state and featured close to 70 uncommitted prospects.

Today we take an early look at some of the players who made strong impressions from the Sunday event. Many of the players below have elevated themselves into high-follows in the class. 


+ The lone Michigan prospect in attendance, Nicholas Zappia (Detroit Catholic Central, MI), made a strong impression. Zappia packs an aggressive, quick swing in a 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame from the right side. Zappia has loose, athletic hands and consistently made hard contact into the pull-side gap. 

+ If looking for a long, lean projectable, two-way prospect with upside, look no further than OF/RHP Wilken Benjamin (Mundelein). Benjamin, a 6-foot-4, 165-pound, right/right prospect has a loose arm and pitched at the bottom of the zone with a three-pitch mix and fastball up to 83 mph. Offensively, he has natural lift in his swing and a gap-to-gap approach. Benjamin will be one to watch mature and develop over his final two high school seasons.

+ Another projectable junior in attendance was left-handed hitting outfielder Julian Jimenez (Romeoville). Jimenez has a 6-foot-2, 170-pound, loose-bodied, high-waisted frame and a fluid swing with a level path. Defensively, he is a natural outfield defender, with smooth footwork, steady hands and a clean release.

+ Kyle Hayes (St. Charles East) is a physically-imposing right-handed hitter catcher who stood out on Sunday. Hayes swings with intent, has advanced bat strength and big power potential. Hayes is also more than capable to stay behind the plate. Hayes is athletic for his size, is clean out of the crouch, has soft hands and his arm plays true with carry at 79 mph from the crouch. 


+ OF/LHP Joey Hagen (Johnsburg), an athletic, left/left prospect, has legitimate two-way potential. Hagen carries strength in his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame, ran a 6.93 60, took one of the best rounds of BP on the day and sat in the low-80’s with a three-pitch repertoire on the mound. 

+ 6-foot-1, 195-pound, INF/RHP Kyle Mack (Yorkville) stood out Sunday with his right-handed bat and ability on the mound. Mack has a fast bat, level path and the ball jumps off the bat. On the mound, his arm works loose and quick, he sat 80-83 mph with feel for both offspeed pitches. 


+ Jack Stellano (Reed Custer) emerged as a high-follow left-hander at his first ever PBR event on Sunday. Stellano, still uncommitted, is slightly coiled at balance point, creating deception, works out of a ¾ slot with a loose, quick arm out front, creating an uncomfortable at-bat. All of Stellano’s offerings were lively with action. His fastball sat 84-85 mph with late run and sink. Both his curveball and changeup flashed swing-and-miss action but were not consistently in the zone. Talented left-hander to follow moving forward.

+ Hawaii commit, LHP Cory Ronan (Routt Catholic) was in attendance and showed off some recent gains in velocity. Ronan, a 6-foot-2, 160-pound, lean, loose-bodied left-hander has a fast arm and dynamic stuff. Ronan’s fastball was jumping through the zone at 85-87 mph, touching 88, a three mph jump from his previous high fastball. Ronan should continue to see velocity jumps moving forward as he adds strength to his lean frame. 


+ Another prospect to emerge at his first-ever event was 6-foot-1, 195-pound, RHP Drew Burkholder (Eastland). Burkholder impressed with a clean, easy arm and polished three-pitch mix. Burkholder wasted minimal effort pumping strikes throughout his ‘pen including a fastball 83-85 mph. 

+ RHP Gavin Schmitt (Plainfield East) has added quality strength to his 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame and his stuff has taken a step forward as well. Schmitt’s 85-86 mph played best when he was able to get downhill tilt with heavy action. 

+ Dane McDonald (Stagg) saw a recent bump in velocity from an August event he attended. McDonald, who works primarily from the stretch, sat 82-84 mph on Sunday, two mph harder than his previous high. The separator for McDonald is his curveball which flashed sharp, late action and 11/5 shape.

+ One of the more complete, polished bullpens on the day belonged to RHP Jake Jakubowski (Huntley). Jakubowski did not wow with big velocity but he works from a side-arm slot, creating a tough look and threw nothing but strikes in his bullpen setting. Jakubowski gets run and sink on his fastball and his changeup looks to be a go-to secondary offering, working at the bottom of the zone while maintaining arm speed.


+ A pair of Warren HS products, Michael Rivera and Ryan Risch worked out as two-way players and both show promise on the mound. Rivera, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound, right-hander was one of the top arms of the day. Rivera has a loose arm with quickness out front, topped at 87 mph and paired it with a sharp-biting mid-70’s breaking ball. Risch has a strong, athletic, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, sat in the low-80’s and showed feel for a changeup.


+ Jaylon Nauden (Marian Catholic) and Jayden Gonzalez (De La Salle) put together two of the more impressive days when looking at infielders. Nauden, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound, right-handed hitter continues to get more physical, is confident in the box, made a lot of hard contact and is a smooth defender with range on the infield. Gonzalez is another infielder who continues to make strides in his game. Gonzalez has a compact, repeatable swing, stays short to the ball and sprayed line-drives to all fields.