Illinois Class of 2023 Rankings Updated
September 7, 2022
The conclusion of our ‘Rankings Week’ series begins today, as we’ve already updated the state’s 2024 and 2025 boards over the past few weeks. You can find those stories by clicking HERE and HERE, respectively.
We’re wrapping things up by updating the state’s 2023 class, expanding our board after an extensive dive into these prospects throughout the spring and summer circuits. We’ve become increasingly familiar with this group over the years and, in one of its final updates, we’ll take a look at the class in its entirety over the next few days.
For now, however, we’ve highlighted some notable names nestled within the top 10, as well as some other high-end prospects scattered throughout the upper spots on this update. You’ll find brief nuggets of information and videos on each below.
TOP 10 NUGGETS
+ Remaining at the top of the rankings is RHP Zander Mueth (Belleville East; Mississippi commit). The right-hander looks every bit of what the top prospect in the state should, running his fastball up to 96 mph and pairing it with a wipeout slider that spins at over 2,300 RPM. It’s hard to find anyone in the country that moves with the fluidity and ease that Mueth does, which is all the more impressive considering he stands at 6-foot-5, 190-pounds. Mueth’s name has been cemented atop our rankings for some time now and for good reason, and he has continued to prove himself consistently against top competition throughout this past summer. Mueth’s electric arm paired with his tremendous amount of upside have him looking as one of the top pitching prospects to come out of Illinois in recent memory.
“Mississippi commit, currently ranked No. 1 in the Illinois 2023 class and No. 11 in the country. Long-limbed, elastic frame, standing 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, ultra-projectable and fluid moving. Mueth got the start against No. 1 Edwardsville and went 3.2 innings while racking up five punchouts to just one walk, one hit and didn’t allow a single run. The right-hander’s arm is ultra loose throughout his arm swing into release, playing long out of the glove and into a ¾ slot with effortless arm-speed. Down the mound, it is hard to find many pitchers that replicate the fluidity and flexibility of Mueth; coiling into balance point with a high leg-kick before moving down the mound with an athletic drop/drive lower-half, creating elite hip/shoulder separation at foot strike with impressive mobility throughout, also controlling his long limbs with ease and repeating consistently. Mueth’s fastball explodes out of the hand with heavy sinking action to the arm-side, sitting 93-95 mph, mostly 94-95 and topping out at 96 mph; locating often to the outer half of the plate to righties and missing barrels constantly. The separator in Mueth’s arsenal is his wipeout slider; thrown with fastball arm-speed and out of a near identical release window, diving off a 10/4 plane with late/sharp action and kept down, 80-82 mph - also collecting a number of swing-and-misses. He flashed a changeup very briefly in his outing at 83 mph, playing with heavy fading action to the arm-side and coming out of a similar fastball release slot. It is hard to find anyone in the country with the pure electricity that Mueth possesses on the mound; already able to control his long limbs, we can surely expect to only see an up-tick in velocity as he continues to develop physically.”
+ You would be hard-pressed to find many players in the country that rival the pure athleticism OF Dillon Head (Homewood-Flossmoor; Clemson commit) possesses. Routinely getting down the line in under four seconds, the No. 2 prospect in the state, has game-changing type speed that plays all over the field. Head’s left-handed swing is routinely on the barrel, working to the gaps to complement his elite speed, while also threatening to beat out any ball on the ground. He is an elite defender in center field with an arm that can reach upwards of 90 mph. Head looks to be a perfect table-setter profile atop the lineup at the next level, and his overall skill set makes him one of the most exciting players to watch in the country.
“...stands at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds with twitchy strength and a quick left-handed bat. A plus-plus runner, he doesn’t need power to lead his tool set, but he does possess at least average pop. That was evident when he pulled a fastball that was up and tailing away from him off the wall in right center field. A Clemson recruit, he is an exciting player with dynamic tools and a high motor.”
+ RHP Parker Detmers (Glenwood, 2023) continues to impress as one, if not the most polished pitcher in the state and sits at No. 4 in the state. He can land any of his three pitches for strikes whenever he wants, running his fastball easily into the low-90s from a strong, sturdy 6-foot-3, 205-pound starter’s frame. Detmers’ aptitude to spin his breaking ball for strikes is advanced, and he’ll turn over a darting changeup in the low-80s on occasion, too. The youngest brother of a family that oozes baseball pedigree, Detmers continues to cement his status as an elite-tier arm in the Midwest:
“Louisville commit, currently ranked No. 4 in the Illinois 2023 class. 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame, strong-bodied with a physical lower-half, durable build. Started on the mound in the State Semifinals and dominated; tossing a complete game one-hitter with 14 strikeouts - also while displaying pitchability and mound presence well above his years. Controlling his tempo throughout, Detmers moves with an athletic leg-kick, slightly coiling into balance point before moving with a tall/fall operation down the mound, remaining in-line with the plate and landing with a closed foot. His arm works with a clean/repeatable arm-circle, transitioning into a high ¾ slot. He showed above-average fastball command over the zone, primarily pitching to his glove-side but showing the ability to come inside on righties as well. His fastball plays with some finish/ride through the zone, holding 90-91 mph throughout most of his outing and topping out at 93 mph a couple times. He went to his breaking ball often throughout the outing, thrown both for strikes and to put hitters away while manipulating shape, playing with sharp 11/5 action and depth at 73-78 mph. He flashed a couple changeups throughout his outing as well, thrown with arm-speed and playing with late diving action, 82 mph. High-level 2023 that profiles as a starter at the next level.”
+ Long regarded as one of the top players in the state, C/OF Zion Rose (Brother Rice; Louisville commit) continues to impress in each look we get and jumps up a spot to No. 5 in the state. He stands at an ultra-physical 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, broad shouldered with brawny forearms and a developed lower-half. Rose’s athleticism and raw strength are rivaled by few people in the country, and his ability to hammer balls off his right-handed barrel as a result are evident. He is a legitimate power threat at the plate and a menace on the basepaths, swiping 30+ bases this spring for the Crusaders’ potent offense. A brief nugget on the Louisville commit from earlier this spring:
“Louisville commit, currently ranked No. 6 in the Illinois 2023 class, No. 76 overall. Strong, athletic build, round shoulders with evenly distributed weight, standing 6-foot-1, 205-pounds. Started behind the plate and hit in the lead-off spot for Brother Rice and impressed on both sides of the ball. The right-handed hitter starts in an athletic stance, moving with a quick/repeatable stride into footstrike; his hands start low and work into an uphill path with present hand speed, creating easy lift and effortless power - also putting together quality at-bats and working counts, seeing the ball well and spitting on pitches out of the zone. Behind the plate, Rose is an athletic and willing blocker, moving well into blocking position and deadening the ball out front. His hands work under the ball, actively trying to frame pitches around the zone. His arm looks to have gotten stronger as well, playing with back-spin and guiding throws to the bag with ease. High-level 2023 prospect with a dangerous power/speed combination.”
+ Rising a couple spots thanks to a helium spring/summer circuit is RHP Ryan Geraghty (Mundelein; Wichita State commit). The 6-foot-1, 192-pound right-hander possesses one of the more high-octane arms in the state, running his fastball into the mid 90s throughout multiple looks. The separator for Geraghty however is his aptitude to spin the breaking ball, ripping off an upper 70s slider with over 2,800 RPM confidently. Geraghty has proved to be more than just a fire-baller thanks to his off-speed polish, and this alone sets him apart from many other hard-throwing right-handers in the country.
“Wichita State commit. Durable 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. Former PBR Future Games participant, ranked inside the top-20 in the Illinois’ junior class. Started at home against McHenry on a cold afternoon. Quiet tempo and rhythm on the mound, coils into the backside and shows the front hip before engaging downhill in a simple, controlled manner. Maintains direction to target, athletic finish. Easy, low-effort operation for the most part, did reach back for some at times. Loose arm path finishes out of a high ¾ slot. Fastball sat 89-93 mph, touched 94 mph; held velocity throughout his entire outing and was up to 93 mph in the fifth inning. Most effective down in the zone, induced several weak ground balls with some late sinking action to it. Slider appeared to be the separator in this look. Threw it with more confidence and conviction than we had seen in the past, turning to it often in two-strike counts as the game went on. Played at 76-80 mph with sharp, late swing-and-miss action off a 10/4 plane. Still developing a complete feel for the pitch, but the improvements made throughout the off-season are noteworthy. Did flash an above-average changeup with hard tumbling action in warmups, didn’t throw it in the game. Finished with five strikeouts through five no-hit innings, generating an abundance of weak contact throughout. Looks the part of an upper-tier pitching prospect in the Midwest that should garner some professional attention this summer and into next spring if the velocity boost remains.”
+ Making his debut in the Top-10 is OF Brayden Bakes (Huntley; Wichita State commit). The left-handed hitting outfielder was turning heads all throughout the spring and into the summer. He stood out perhaps the most notably at the PBR ProCase, showing all sorts of tools to pair with his high-motor in the field. His power-speed combination places him in the upper-tier of outfielders in the state, and his athleticism profiles him to remain in the outfield at the next level. Here is what our scouts had to say about him from this past summer:
“...Bakes ascent over the last few weeks started at the PBR ProCase - Midwest, where he was arguably the top follow in attendance, and parlayed over to a strong showing at Creekside last weekend. Built at a chiseled 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, Bakes punished baseballs off his left-handed barrel and tied for the tournament lead in home runs with three. He’s always been one of the toolsiest athletes in Illinois, running a 6.45 60 and reaching exit velocities north of 101 mph, but Bakes has started to translate those tools into success on the diamond. Committed to Wichita State, he’s firmly an arrow-up name in the Midwest’s 2023 MLB Draft cycle.”
OUTSIDE THE TOP 10
+ Arguably the biggest winner from this year’s circuit, RHP/INF Dominic Voegele (Columbia, 2023; Kansas commit) jumps more than 35 spots in this update, sitting at 11th overall. A lanky 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect, Voegele helped lead the Eagles to the 2A state playoffs and earned second team all-state honors as a result. He’s a premium prospect on the mound, generating easy low-90s heat with his fastball from a loose, clean arm slot, suggesting plenty more is yet to come. His ability to spin two sharp breaking balls at 2,600+ RPM each is highly impressive, especially an 80-82 mph slider with lateral swing-and-miss action. A 6.68 runner in the 60-yard dash with quality attributes as a position player and multi-sport talents, Voegele’s upside on the hill is rivaled by few in this class. We recently saw him at the Illinois State Games, where our staff had this to say about the Jayhawks’ recruit:
“...who toed the rubber Wednesday afternoon. Standing at a lean 6-foot-2, 180-pounds with upside, Voegele easily pumped his fastball at 90-91 mph, touching 92 mph with more left in the tank, and commanded it to both corners of the plate. Voegele threw two breaking balls with distinct shapes, too. He tossed a more gradual 75-79 mph breaking ball at 2,600+ RPM, landing it more comfortably for strikes, while turning to a firm low-80s slider as a more swing-and-miss pitch at 2,550+ RPM. Voegele impressed at the plate throughout the event, staying up the middle from a short, quick right-handed stroke. A high level athlete who’s a multi-sport standout at Columbia, Voegele remains a top-end uncommitted prospect in Illinois.”
+ Another high rising arm from the central part of the state, climbing 50 spots after truly breaking out this year: RHP Blake Wolters (Mahomet-Seymour, 2023; Arizona commit). Wolters dominated for the Bulldogs this spring, earning PBR first team all-state honors and leading his high school team deep into the 3A IHSA playoffs. He’s a multi-sport athlete at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds and has seen a pretty impressive climb in velocity over the past few months, now sitting at 91-94 mph. Wolters compliments his lively fastball with three secondary offerings, including a firm 79-81 mph slider that he’ll spin on average at 2,500+ RPM. Wolters’ ceiling on the mound rivals that of any in the class.
+ INF Ryan Niedzwiedz (West Aurora, 2023) climbs 10 spots in this update and is one of the top prospects in this class still on the market. At 6-foot, 190-pounds, Niedzwiedz generates high end bat speed from the left side and has performed in front of our staff several times over the last few years. Niedzwiedz most recently caught our attention at Creekside, with our scouts having this to say about his performance:
“...6-foot, 190-pounds; currently sits as one of the top uncommitted left-handed bats in the Illinois 2023 class. Physical at the plate with advanced bat speed and consistently works on the barrel with little swing-and-miss. Launched a no-doubt home run on Field 4 that comfortably cleared the right field fence by 30 or so feet. Took a highly impressive BP round at the Illinois Preseason All-State this winter, 101.8 mph max EV, 94.4 mph average EV, and also ran a 7.02 60 with 90 mph arm strength across the infield. Profiles as a middle-of-the-order type bat at the next level with thump from the left side.”
+ One of the biggest risers in this update is RHP Gabe Smith (Father McGivney; Mississippi commit). Standing 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, Smith certainly passes the eye test when he steps on the mound, and it doesn’t take long to realize that there's more to the right-hander’s game than just looking the part. Smith moves with impressive ease and repeatability down the mound, flowing with seemingly minimal effort throughout his operation to pair with a loose and uninterrupted arm path. We saw his fastball reach highs of 89 mph this past winter and have heard reports of an increase in velocity over the summer. Here’s what our scouts had to say about him earlier this spring:
“Long-limbed, 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, starters build. The tall right-hander’s arm works with a long circle out of the glove, moving into a loose ¾ slot. His delivery is fluid down the mound, working with a controlled tempo and little perceived effort, also striding slightly across his body at-times - creating deception and added sink on pitches to his arm-side. Smith’s fastball was lively, jumping out of his hand at 86-88 mph with natural sinking action, filling up the zone with strikes and challenging hitters. He went to a changeup at 78-79 mph to pair off his fastball, thrown with similar fastball arm-speed and released from a similar window. Impressive right-hander that looks to have more velo in the tank.”
+ OF Bryce Nevils (Brother Rice, 2023) emerged the Illinois State Games as one of the event’s biggest takeaways, stealing the show and impacting the game in multiple aspects. He’s a high level athlete that posted some of the event’s most impressive athletic testing metrics, and that was fairly evident during the gameplay portion of the event. Nevils recently committed to Western Kentucky, and his performance over the last calendar year has him rising almost 10 spots in this update. A nugget on him from our two-day stretch in Rantoul, found below:
“...was another major winner from this event, committing to Western Kentucky a few days afterwards. At a strong, athletic 6-foot-1, 188-pounds, Nevils ran a 6.89 60-yard dash, reached a peak exit velocity of 97.8 mph, and topped at 87 mph from the outfield during Tuesday’s workout. That strength and athleticism translated seamlessly in-game for Nevils, who launched a no-doubt home run and short hopped the left field fence on day two. He also flew around the basepaths, taking extra-bases at will and serving as an offensive manufacturer for his squad throughout the event. Over the course of the two days, no one stood out on the bases more than Nevils. He is ultra-aggressive, runs better than his frame would indicate, showed tremendous feel gaining ground on his leadoffs, especially at second base and utilized a delayed steal numerous times without much recourse. Nevils all-around baseball abilities, to go along with his in-game at-bats, set him apart from most of his peers.”
+ After a breakout showing at the IHSA 2A state playoffs, LHP/QB1 TJ Schlageter (Joliet Catholic, 2023; Louisville) ascends nearly 100 spots, occupying a top-30 spot on our updated board. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw sat 85-87 mph with his fastball in that look, peaking at 89 mph from a short, clean arm action, and there’s certainly more velocity to come down the road. Schlageter spots a 75-78 mph changeup below the zone, and he’ll comfortably spin a low-70s breaking ball around the zone, too. Schlageter recently committed to Louisville, and he’s quickly becoming one of the top left-handed arms in the Midwest.
+ RHP Zachary Kwasny (Lincoln-Way East, 2023; Ball State) has always performed in front of our staff, earning PBR all-state honors and rising to No. 28 on our updated board. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander owns a relatively high-ceiling as an arm, pitching in the upper-80s with his fastball and spotting two above-average secondaries for strikes around the zone. Kwasny strung together a highly impressive performance at Creekside this summer, and our scouts in attendance had this to say about him:
“...Kwasny flat-out dominated for Top Tier Americans in relief on Saturday evening. He ran his fastball up to 90 mph multiple times, sitting at 87-89 mph with downhill tilt created from a high release point. Kwasny landed a low-70s curveball for strikes in any count and commanded a 72-74 mph changeup around the lower third of the zone throughout his outing. His mentality on the mound is worth mentioning, as Kwasny has long been known to our staff as a bulldog-type that attacks hitters with confidence. At a lanky 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, Kwasny could comfortably add quality mass onto his frame over the next few years and see an even greater uptick in his stuff. He’s one of the top prospects in the Illinois’ 2023 class.
+ OF Luke Stulga (St. Laurence, 2023; Illinois State) slots at 29th overall in this update, climbing nearly 20 spots after a strong spring for one of the top programs in Illinois. At 6-foot-3, 190-pounds, Stulga’s upside offensively is undeniable, and his ability to generate easy bat speed from a simple right-handed stroke is evident. He’s a 6.54 runner in the 60 that reached exit velocities into the upper-90s this winter and he proved pivotal for the Vikings offensively as a middle-of-the-order bat all season long. We saw Stulga up close in April, where our staff had this to say about the Redbirds’ recruit:
“...ultra-athletic, 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, developed lower-half with wide shoulders. Impressed with numerous barrels throughout the day and finished 3-for-4 with a double. The right-handed hitter uses very little wasted movement throughout his swing; working with a minimal stride into a flat path through the zone, hands working quick to the ball with an uphill path, flat at times. He displayed easy bat-strength with a double to the opposite field, as well as numerous barrels throughout batting practice; scorching balls straight into the wind and using the whole field.”
+ C AJ Malzone (St. Rita, 2023) continues to prove himself as a true left-handed threat offensively in this class and he rises up a handful of spots on our updated board as a result. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound backstop came away from the Illinois State Games as a winner, hitting during the gameplay portion of the event and showing our staff improved catch-and-throw skills behind the plate, too. Our scouts had this to say about Malzone’s performance in Rantoul:
“...continues to ascend up our board everytime we see him. Long known for his prowess with his bat, the left-handed hitting catcher has made big strides behind the plate, especially with his arm. There were a number of times where Malzone came out of the chute and showed off a well above-average arm that played accurate and with life. His bat continued to look like one of the better still on the market, playing with extreme ease and comfort in the box. Malzone is never in a rush, rarely chases and when he gets the pitch he is looking for, rarely misses. Malzone provided one of the hardest hit balls of the event, a no-doubt home run to deep right-field on the first evening.”
THE TOP 10
||Downers Grove North
|| South Carolina
|| Wichita State
|| Florida State
|| Wichita State