Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2021 Rankings Updated

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The gauntlet of the summer showcase and tournament season is behind us as well as the PBR Midwest Championships, which finished up on Sunday. In turn, the update and expansion of the 2021 Illinois Rankings is well overdue. We’ve had the opportunity to evaluate a number of in-state talent over that time, whether it was at the All-State Games, PBR Future Games and countless other events – and we’ll find out how their most recent performances, development, and maturation have affected their position in the rankings.

The former No. 1 2021 in Illinois, CIF Vytas Valincius (St. Laurence; South Carolina commit) has transferred to the Baylor School in Tennessee, which opens up the top spot in Illinois. Louisville commit SS Noah Smith (Marist) has earned the nod with his performances over the last few months. Smith is a highly-athletic, middle-infielder who stood out this summer at the USA National Team Development Program. Smith has slick hands, natural infield actions and makes difficult plays look easy. Smith ranges with ease and fluidity to both sides and plays on the move with advanced body control. Offensively, he has taken strides with his right-handed swing over the past year. Smith has loose hands and advanced bat-to-ball skills.

Big-bodied, LHP Adam Dowler (Oswego East), another Louisville commit, sits right behind Smith at No. 2 in the class. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound, left-hander has a loose arm from a ¾ slot, pounds the zone with a fastball up to 87 mph and his hard 76-80 mph is a swing-and-miss offering, separating himself from a lot of the other left-handers in the state.

SS/RHP Nicholas Demarco (St. Charles North) is a high-level, two-way prospect, ranked No. 3 in the class. The Notre Dame commit, is an action-y defender who can play anywhere on the diamond, has quick-twitch and power potential in his swing. He also was the closer for St. Charles North, who finished runner-up in class 4A and runs his fastball up to 90 mph. 

A pair of Team Illinois arms, LHP Reed Gannon (Minooka) and RHP Brennyn Cutts (Toledo-Cumberland) come in a No. 4 and No. 5. Gannon, a smooth-operating left-hander, sat 85-87 mph with a true four-pitch repertoire and worked two spotless innings. Gannon recently committed to Kentucky. Cutts, the top uncommitted prospect on the board, is physically-impressive at 6-foot-3, 215-pound, has a clean, fast arm and a fastball up to 92 mph.

Reed Gannon (7.31.19)

Arkansas commit, OF Drew Gray (Belleville East), is a high-waisted, 6-foot-2, 165-pound, fluid left/left athlete with a fluid, quick left-handed swing and a chance to be a high-level center fielder at the next level. Gray seems to just be scratching the surface of his immense upside. 

A trio of Big Ten commits, RHP Tyler Fullman (Marian Catholic; Michigan commit), RHP Ben Hess (Charleston; Indiana commit) and SS Ryan Moerman (Lockport; Illinois commit) fill out spots Nos. 7 to 9. Fullman and Hess both have power arms and strong, durable frames with much more in the tank. Moerman, long known for his savvy defensive abilities, continues to add strength to his frame and his right-handed bat has taken huge strides as a result. 

Another power arm, RHP Lazaro Marquez (Home School), rounds out the top-10. Marquez is a barrel-chested, strong Texas commit with a fast arm and lively fastball that has been up to 91 mph. As Marquez continues to refine his offspeed offering,  his stock will climb.

TOP 10

1 Noah Smith IL Marist 2021 SS Louisville
2 Adam Dowler IL Oswego East 2021 LHP Louisville
3 Nicholas Demarco IL St. Charles North 2021 SS Notre Dame
4 Reed Gannon IL Minooka 2021 LHP Kentucky
5 Brennyn Cutts IL Toledo-Cumberland 2021 RHP  
6 Drew Gray IL Belleville East 2021 OF Arkansas
7 Tyler Fullman IL Marian Catholic 2021 RHP Michigan
8 Ben Hess IL Charleston 2021 RHP Indiana
9 Ryan Moerman IL Lockport 2021 SS Illinois
10 Lazaro Marquez IL N/A 2021 RHP Texas

For a look at the complete up-to-date 2021 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 2021 updated rankings.