Prep Baseball Report

Final Illinois 2018 Rankings Updated

By Illinois Scouting Staff

The 2018 IHSA season is in the books and with the year coming to an end we put our finishing touches on the Class of 2018 Rankings with our final update for the senior class.

OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel) finishes his high school career holding on to the top billing for a wire to wire lock on the top spot in the state. The Class of 2018 Rankings were launched in July of 2015 with Thomas headlining our initial top 20.Three years later, Thomas still holds on to that spot and was the top high school prospect drafted out of Illinois. Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft, 63rd overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks. His sneaky left handed pop and plus defensive prowess in centerfield made him one of the more coveted prospects throughout his high school career.

The rest of the top four go unchanged from the preseason, as OF Zaid Walker (Homewood-Flossmoor), RHP Jacob Maton (Chatham-Glenwood) and SS Branden Comia (Sandburg) all lived up to expectations their farewell campaign. Walker put up gaudy power numbers this season hitting .432 with 12 HR and 49 RBI on his way to a .968 SLG. Walker also finished his career hearing his name called in the MLB Draft with a 36th round selection by the Cincinnati Reds. Three rounds later, Maton was selected in the 39th round by the Seattle Mariners. The Coastal Carolina commit showed premium stuff this season racking up 98 strikeouts to just eight walks and a 0.81 ERA. Brandon Comia did it all for Sandburg this season, not only a captain on the infield, leading the Eagle to a fourth place 4A finish, Comia also closed out several crucial contests on the mound. Comia will be headed to Illinois next year where he has the ability to impact the roster right away.


1 Alek Thomas IL Mount Carmel 2018 OF Texas Christian
2 Zaid Walker IL Homewood-Flossmoor 2018 OF Michigan State
3 Jacob Maton IL Chatham-Glenwood 2018 RHP Coastal Carolina
4 Branden Comia IL Sandburg 2018 SS Illinois
5 Antoine Kelly IL Maine East 2018 LHP Central Arizona JC
6 Nathan Lavender IL El Paso 2018 LHP Illinois
7 James Kulak IL Neuqua Valley 2018 LHP Purdue
8 Francois Castillo IL Lake View 2018 RHP Eastern Illinois
9 Jacob Plastiak IL Andrew 2018 SS Wichita State
10 Steven Sanchez IL Mundelein 2018 LHP Arkansas


Moving on to No. 5, LHP Antoine Kelly (Maine East) showed us incredible swing and miss stuff this year and proved it with his strikeout numbers of 98 over 42.1 innings pitched, totalling all but 19 of his outs on the season via the strikeout. In his last outing of the year he showed dominant command of a 90-95 mph fastball and after Thomas, was the next highest high school draft pick out of Illinois is the 13th round by the San Diego Padres. Kelly jumped over ten spots to make his first appearance in our top ten.

Antoine Kelly (5.24.18)

At No. 7 LHP James Kulak (Neuqua Valley) moves up two spots. Kulak may be the most college ready pitcher in the class. His arsenal is above average all the way around, and his savvy for using it in game is unmatched in the state. Kulak is highly confident and competitive and it translates into his performances. His ability to add and subtract from his fastball, and reach for his premium stuff late in games makes him the quintessential weekend starter at the next level.

Andrew’s Jacob Plastiak is the last big riser in the top ten. Plastiak swings a premium switch-hitting bat and will likely play third base or a corner outfield spot at the next level. Regardless of where he matches up defensively, his bat will play in any lineup, and the main reason he was drafted in the 28th round by the Padres. Plastiak moves up ten spots to No. 9.

When looking outside the top 10 there were a number of players who had big senior spring seasons and as a result climbed in the rankings. Most notably is RHP Riley Gowens (Libertyville), who has one of the liveliest arms in the class and climbed into the top 15. In one of the last starts of the spring the 6-foot-3, Illinois commit sat 92-93 mph, touching 94 in his first inning and was still touching 91 in the late innings.

Illinois-Chicago commit Ryan Hampe continued to prove this spring that he is one of the top bats in the class. Hampe, who climbed 17 spots started at catcher for Sandburg, the Class 4A fourth place finisher and entered the state tournament hitting .425 with 19 doubles and six home runs.

A trio of highly-projectable, strong-armed right-handed pitchers, Brady Miller (Plainfield North), McCade Brown (Normal West) and Tyler Stuart (Herscher) also ascended up the rankings after impressive springs. Miller, a Western Michigan commit and three-sport athlete helped guide Plainfield North to the 4A state title. Miller spots up a fastball that climbed as high as 91 mph at the state tournament and has feel for three pitches. Brown, an Indiana commit, that stands 6-foot-6 may have the liveliest arm and highest ceiling of the three. Stuart, a Southern Miss commit and imposing figure on the mound at 6-foot-8, 235-pounds, sat 85-89 mph at the Class 2A state tournament with feel for his breaking ball.

Another position player on the rise this spring was Sam Jones (Brother Rice). Jones, an Indiana commit, was one of the top offensive threats for the Crusaders and has turned himself into an advanced defender at third base. Jones jumped into the top 30 of the updated rankings.

CLICK HERE for complete Illinois 2018 Rankings.