Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2020 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio and Andy Sroka
Illinois Staff

With the new school year just around the corner and the summer showcase season ending, it’s time for us to update the Illinois Class of 2020 Rankings. Since we last updated our rankings, there have been a number of Illinois-represented showcases, in addition to our biggest Future Games event yet, not to mention the numerous tournaments we’ve attended over the summer. This incoming junior class update is an important one because it reflects how the top prospects in the state performed within a jam-packed summer.

Today, we’ll see what the top 10 looks like headed into the end summer and who we can welcome aboard. Later this week, we’ll expand outside the board’s top 10 and take a look at those surging up the ranks as well as those who’ve earned their rankings debut.

For a look at the complete up-to-date 2020 rankings, CLICK HERE.


1 Ed Howard IV IL Mount Carmel 2020 SS Oklahoma
2 Ben Wiegman IL Carmel Catholic 2020 RHP Louisville
3 Jack Mahoney IL Saint Viator 2020 RHP/SS South Carolina
4 Christian Knapczyk IL Joliet Catholic 2020 SS Louisville
5 Briar Stinson IL Rushville-Industry 2020 OF Kentucky
6 Jack Payton IL Brother Rice 2020 C Louisville
7 Ben Hernandez IL De La Salle 2020 RHP Illinois-Chicago
8 Drake Westcott IL Edwardsville 2020 1B Louisville
9 Jack Crowder IL Plainfield East 2020 RHP Illinois
10 Anthony Livermore IL Mount Carmel 2020 SS

You’ll notice we have a brand new No. 1 sitting atop the rankings: SS
Ed Howard IV (Mount Carmel; Oklahoma commit). Howard is arguably the best true defensive shortstop in the Midwest and continued to prove it throughout the summer. Howard has advanced, easy actions, fluid feet, soft hands and a big arm across the diamond. Howard continues to add strength to his lean, athletic build and has seen his offense take strides as a result. The right-handed hitter stays short to the ball, has quick-twitch in his swing, and is starting to drive baseballs to both gaps. Howard should be a high-interest draft follow in 2020.

Another prospect with their arrow pointed north is RHP Ben Wiegman (Carmel Catholic; Louisville). Wiegman is the state’s new No. 2-ranked prospect after a summer in which he substantiated his next-level arsenal at multiple national events. Wiegman, who possesses a 6-foot-3, 205-pound strong, muscular, workhorse-type frame, consistently sits in the 88-90 mph and has been as high as 91. He also features a sweeping breaking ball that flashes swing-and-miss action at times. Given Wiegman's frame and fast arm it would not be a surprise to see his velocity continue to rise moving forward.

Ben Wiegman (6.19.18)

Another riser within the top 10 was Jack Payton (Brother Rice). Payton, the top-ranked catcher in the class, continues to improve every time we see him and stood out all weekend at this summer’s PBR Future Games. The strong, athletic, 5-foot-11, 185-pound, backstop is a highly-advanced receiver. Payton has soft, quiet, strong hands and is adept at getting borderline pitches called strikes due to the way he gets around and underneath the baseball to present pitches. Payton, who recently committed to Louisville, also looks to have middle-of-the-order potential at the plate. The right-handed hitter has advanced bat strength and can hit the ball with authority to both gaps. Payton is also an above-average runner for a catcher (6.91 laser-timed 60).

The final two prospects who round out the top-10 board are new to the list: RHP Jack Crowder (Plainfield East; Illinois) and SS Anthony Livermore (Mount Carmel; uncommitted). Both players leapt out from the 20s to earn a place within the top 10.

For Crowder, our staff has had the chance to see the physical righty a couple times in the past six months and there is a lot to like in the 6-foot-3, 185-pound, broad-shouldered, right-handed arm. Crowder has a loose, quick arm, and the ball jumps out of his hand with ease, finishing with life through the hitting zone. We have seen Crowder multiple times sit comfortably in the 85-88 mph range, touching 89. The changeup is currently Crowder’s best secondary but the breaking ball is not far behind.

Finally, no position player for Team Illinois at the Future Games saw his stock rise more following the event than Livermore. Livermore, a left-handed hitter, has a loose, quick swing, and he seemed to barrel everything in sight in Westfield, Ind. He profiles as a top-of-the-order bat. Livermore, the top uncommitted prospect on the board, plays with instincts and a high baseball IQ. He's a lively defender, plays with bounce anywhere on the infield, and has soft, confident hands. Livermore should be a high-follow 2020 moving forward.

Anthony Livermore (8.1.18)

Stay tuned over the next few days for an inside look at the Illinois rankings. We will dissect some of the biggest risers and top newcomers to the 2020 updated rankings.

CLICK HERE for Illinois' complete Class of 2020 Rankings, expanded to 120 total prospects.