Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2020 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Taking into consideration the late fall, winter season and national events such as the Super 60 scouted over the last couple of months, we have updated the Illinois 2020 rankings once again.

Over the course of the last four months, the depth of the class has continued to strengthen as well as some of the high-end talent at the top. This year’s senior class has a number of guys at the top who should draw plenty of pro interest this spring.

The top three on the Illinois’ 2020 board remain the same. At the top of the list is SS Edward Howard IV (Mount Carmel), who has been a mainstay atop the class since August of 2018. Howard, an Oklahoma commit, is also one of the top prospects in the country and is currently holding tight at No. 10 on the PBR Draft Board, which factors in all players eligible for the 2020 MLB Draft. Depending on how the spring plays out, there is a chance Howard could be the first high school position player chosen in the MLB draft this June. Howard has all the tools to play a high-level shortstop at the next level, continues to strengthen his athletic, high-waisted, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame and his bat continues to take strides. 

Next on the list were two standouts at this winter’s Super 60, RHP Ben Hernandez (De La Salle: UIC commit) and SS Christian Knapczyk (Joliet Catholic; Louisville commit). Hernandez threw one of the cleanest pens’ of the event, sitting an easy 95 mph out of the gates and showing off his patented swing-and-miss changeup. Knapczyk recorded the second-highest rotational acceleration at the event (32.9 g) according to “Blast Motion, which helps explain his ability to create the jump off the barrel despite his 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame. Knapczyk also showed off his bouncy, natural infield actions and plenty of arm strength to keep him at shortstop in the future (89 mph). 

Ben Hernandez (Super 60 - 2.2.20)

1B Drake Westcott (Edwardsville; Louisville commit) is the new No. 4 prospect in the state. Westcott is a physical 6-foot-4, 205-pound, left-handed hitter who continues to clean up his frame and improve his game, especially his feel around the bag at first base. Westcott has one of the rarest tools of all, as well, legitimate power from the left side of the plate with an advanced feel in the box. 

Rounding out the Top five is another Louisville commit, C/OF Jack Payton (Brother Rice). Payton gets better every time we see him and showed the athleticism, foot speed (6.83 60) and talent at the Super 60, to play behind the plate or in the outfield at the next level. Payton was 86 mph from the crouch, 93 mph from the outfield and creates leverage at the plate and made a lot of hard contact into the pull-side gap at the event. 

Jack Payton (Super 60 - 2.2.20)

A quartet of arms make up the next batch of prospects in the top-10; RHP/SS Jack Mahoney (St. Viator; South Carolina commit), RHP Ben Wiegman (Carmel Catholic; Louisville commit), RHP/OF Isaiah Jackson (Champaign Central; uncommitted) and RHP Jack Crowder (Plainfield East; Illinois commit). Mahoney is a multi-sport talent who is competitive on the mound, pounds the strike zone with three pitches and runs his fastball into the low-90’s. Wiegman showed off one of the strongest arms at the Super 60, sitting mostly 93-94 mph with a power breaking ball at 83-85 mph. Jackson has a huge-ceiling with his 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame, electric easy arm and fastball that sat 90-93 at the Super 60. Crowder has a thick, durable 6-foot-4, 225-pound, loose, clean arm and fastball that has been up to 94 mph and sits mostly 88-93.

INF/CF Tre Hondras (Homewood-Flossmoor; Michigan commit) rounds out the final spot on the Top-10. Hondras is a 6.60 runner who is talented enough to play all over the diamond and had the top bat speed of the Super 60 (75.6 mph), according to “Blast Motion.”


1 Edward Howard IV IL Mount Carmel 2020 SS Oklahoma
2 Ben Hernandez IL De La Salle 2020 RHP Illinois-Chicago
3 Christian Knapczyk IL Joliet Catholic 2020 SS Louisville
4 Drake Westcott IL Edwardsville 2020 1B Louisville
5 Jack Payton IL Brother Rice 2020 C Louisville
6 Jack Mahoney IL St. Viator 2020 SS South Carolina
7 Ben Wiegman IL Carmel Catholic 2020 RHP Louisville
8 Isaiah Jackson IL Champaign Central 2020 RHP  
9 Jack Crowder IL Plainfield East 2020 RHP Illinois
10 Tre Hondras IL Homewood-Flossmoor 2020 SS Michigan

CLICK HERE for a look at the updated Top-315.