Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2020 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The gauntlet of the summer showcase and tournament season, including the PBR Future Games, just finished and the update and expansion of the 2020 Illinois Rankings is well overdue. We’ve had the opportunity to evaluate a ton of talented in-state prospects – whether it was at the Midwest ProCase or at events like Chicago’s Top Prospect showcase – and we’ll find out how their most recent performances, development, and maturation have affected their position in the rankings.

The top two players on the board in Illinois remain the same in SS Edward Howard IV (Mount Carmel) and RHP Ben Hernandez (De La Salle). Howard, an Oklahoma commit, continues to establish himself as one of the top high school shortstops in the country. Howard has played in seemingly every high-profile event this summer and is sure to draw plenty of draft interest next spring. Hernandez, a UIC commit, emerged as one of the top high school arms in the country last winter when he sat an easy 93-94 mph in a bullpen setting and has continued to ascend since. Like the aforementioned Howard, Hernandez has pitched in a number of high-profile events this summer. In the Under Armour All-American Game, Hernandez struck out the side, consistently showing off his advanced swing-and-miss changeup and low-90’s fastball.

Edward Howard IV (5.23.19)

Moving up to No. 3 is RHP Jack Mahoney (Saint Viator). Mahoney is a three-sport athlete who has seen his velocity and stuff take a step forward this summer. The South Carolina commit now pitches anywhere from 88-93 mph and features two advanced offspeed offerings. 

Dynamic left-handed hitting infielder Christian Knapczyk (Joliet Catholic) remains in the top five, where he has been a mainstay since the inception of the 2020 rankings. Knapczyk, a Louisville commit, is a natural on the infield, plays with a high-level baseball IQ and is a top of the order bat with sneaky pop. 

A trio of Louisville commits, 1B Drake Westcott (Edwardsville), C Jack Payton (Brother Rice) and RHP Ben Wiegman (Carmel Catholic) are next on the list. Westcott, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound, middle-of-the-order bat has some of the best raw power in the Midwest and arguably impacted his lineup (4A State Champs) this spring, more than any other bat in the state. Payton is a high-level receiver who consistently makes hard contact at the plate and handles velocity. Wiegman has a 6-foot-3, 200-pound strong, workhorse type frame and is a true power arm. Wiegman pitches anywhere from 90-94 mph and flashes a hard-biting breaking ball in the low-80’s. 

Another workhorse right-handed pitcher Jack Crowder (Plainfield East) comes in next at No. 8 in the class. The Illinois commit has a loose, clean arm, reaches as high as 93 mph with his fastball with seemingly more velocity to come. Crowder also has a three-pitch mix including a developing slider and feel for a changeup.

OF Briar Stinson (Rushville-Industry) and OF/RHP Isaiah Jackson (Champaign Central) round out the top 10. Stinson, a Kentucky commit, has an advanced set of tools and is one of the best overall bats in the class. Stinson features feel for the barrel and present power. Jackson, still uncommitted, is as toolsy as it comes and it still remains to be seen if he will end up as a position player or on the mound. On the mound, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound, two-way prospect, has a clean, quick arm and has been up to 94 mph. Jackson also runs a 6.63 60, is 95 mph from the outfield and has strength in his swing.

TOP 10

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


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

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.