Illinois 2021 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Over the last couple of months we have updated and expanded the 2019 and 2020 rankings in Illinois. Last week the Overall 2021 rankings got a facelift and were also expanded to 400. Over the last couple of weeks and months we have also taken a hard look at the 2021 class in Illinois and expanded it to the Top-100 prospects in the state.

There have been a number of showcases, camps and high school games since the last rankings update and in that time many new sophomores have come to the forefront. The Underclass Invitational took place in February and featured many of the top players in the Illinois 2021 class. Also, a large number of sophomores on the updated list are playing a role on varsity rosters this spring.

When it comes to the top of the class, nothing has changed since the last update. 3B/RHP Vytas Valincius (St. Laurence) remains as the head of the class. Valincius, a South Carolina commit, is ranked No. 27 in the overall rankings. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound, physical specimen, is known for his advanced right-handed bat and that continues to be the case. Valincius, is more than just an all-or-nothing power bat. The middle-of-the-order right-handed hitter, has feel for the zone, recognizes spin, covers the plate and can hit to all fields with authority. Valincius and senior Matt McCormick, combine for one of the more intimidating, one-two punches in a lineup, in the state.

Noah Smith, a Louisville commit, remains at No. 2 in the state. The Marist product has been a mainstay on varsity since his freshman year. Smith, a shortstop by trait, has the talent and athleticism to fit in wherever is needed for the Redhawks. Smith, ranked No. 154 overall, has a long, athletic frame, loose right-handed swing and a high-ceiling.

The biggest move at the top of  the Top-10 came from 6-foot-3, 200-pound, LHP Adam Dowler (Oswego East). Dowler, a recent Purdue commit, put together the most impressive bullpen at the Underclass Invitational this winter and jumped six spots, up to No. 3. The broad-shouldered southpaw sat 84-86 mph, touching 87 and pounded the zone with an advanced three-pitch mix. We were able to get another look at Dowler early this spring at the Metro East Kickoff Classic and he was equally as impressive. The top ranked left-handed pitcher in the class is just beginning to tap into his enormous upside.

Adam Dowler (2.17.19)

Two right-handed pitchers, Landen Looper (Lincoln-Way East) and Brennyn Cutts (Toledo-Cumberland), round out the top five. Looper, a Louisville commit, has a clean, easy arm, mid-80’s fastball and gets advanced depth on his curveball. Cutts, a downstate product, is the top ranked uncommitted prospect in the state. Cutts has a durable, 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, live strong arm, fastball up to 86 mph and a breaking ball that has a chance to be a plus-offering in the future.

Notre Dame commit, SS/RHP Nicholas Demarco (St. Charles North) has been a mainstay in the Top-10 and is currently No. 6 in the class. Demarco is an advanced up-the-middle defender with soft confident hands and enough range to stick at shortstop. Demarco also will flash advanced actions, an ultra-quick release and strong, accurate arm across the diamond. Offensively, the right-handed hitter, has middle-of-the-order potential at the next level. If that is not enough, Demarco came out of the bullpen in a game last Saturday sitting 87-88 mph while mixing in a swing-and-miss breaking ball. Demarco looks to be a rare two-way prospect at the next level.

OF Drew Gray (Belleville East), RHP Ben Hess (Charleston), RHP Lazaro Marquez (Homeschool) and SS Ryan Moerman (Lockport) round out the Top-10 and are on the rise since the last update. Gray, an Arkansas commit, rose three spots to No. 10 and is yet another prospect at the top of the class who has been a mainstay on varsity since his freshman season. Hess and Marquez both put together electric performances at the Underclass Invitational. Hess, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound, right-hander, topped at 88 mph while his slider and changeup have action in the zone. Marquez, has an extremely live/quick arm and topped at 91 mph this winter. The barrel-chested right-hander is still harnessing his offspeed but the arm speed and arm strength is undeniable. Moerman, the starting shortstop at Lockport since his freshman year, continues to add strength and confidence to his game. Moerman, an Illinois commit, has all the tools to stick at shortstop and has taken big strides with his right-handed swing.

Ben Hess (2.17.19)



1 Vytas Valincius IL St. Laurence 2021 3B South Carolina
2 Noah Smith IL Marist 2021 SS Louisville
3 Adam Dowler IL Oswego East 2021 LHP Purdue
4 Landen Looper IL Lincoln-Way East 2021 RHP Louisville
5 Brennyn Cutts IL Toledo-Cumberland 2021 RHP  
6 Nicholas Demarco IL St. Charles North 2021 SS Notre Dame
7 Drew Gray IL Belleville East 2021 OF Arkansas
8 Ben Hess IL Charleston 2021 RHP  
9 Lazaro Marquez IL N/A 2021 RHP  
10 Ryan Moerman IL Lockport 2021 SS Illinois


We will touch more on the 2021 class in the coming days when we break down some of the top newcomers and a few more risers in the state.

CLICK HERE for complete 2021 Illinois Rankings.

CLICK HERE for the 2021 Overall Rankings Story.