Illinois Class of 2024 Rankings: First Look


By Andy Sroka, Drew Locascio, and Diego Solares
Illinois Staff

It is still extremely early, perhaps even premature, to be forecasting Class of 2024 prospects, especially since many of these rising sophomores haven’t even played a varsity game. Then again, with the recent acceleration of recruiting, high-level 2024 prospects are already making verbal commitments.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen an impressive amount of talented 2024 prospects, several of whom should become national prospects.

With that said, we have released our initial 2024 rankings, a modest list of 35 prospects who have stood out among their peers. Certainly this list will change and evolve in time, as we know many players will grow, develop and mature. We also know that we likely haven’t seen many other 2024 prospects that may be deserving of this list.

NATIONAL TOP-500

There are 14 Illinois natives who made the latest national top-500, and PBR’s VP of scouting, Shooter Hunt, coincidentally broke down our state’s best of the best in this piece published on Thursday. We’ll share some of his takeaways within that story below:

Illinois’ strongest prep class could very well be this 2024 group. Five players reside in the top-100 overall, with 14 situated in the top-500… Leading the way as the top player in the state and No. 3 overall, 3B/OF George Wolkow (Downers Grove North), a South Carolina recruit, is one of the most imposing bats in the class with a sweet left-handed stroke that is equal parts hit-tool and power potential." 

George Wolkow (8/4/21)

Helping to make this group so exciting, fellow position players in the top-50: CF Cole Crafton (No. 44, Lincoln-Way West) and C/INF Collin Mowry (No. 49, Lincoln-Way Central) are a pair of Louisville recruits with intriguing athleticism and a knack for coming up big in big spots. Crafton, a high school quarterback with an uber-projectable 6-foot-3 185-pound frame, sports big upside at the plate where his left-handed stroke is already providing glimpses of considerable power potential. Mowry, a consummate gamer, finds a way to impact most games that he plays in, especially with a heavy barrel that he turns with authority from the right side. Adding to the depth of the class, frontline arms like RHP Luke Oblen (No. 54, DePaul College Prep), a Louisville recruit, and RHP Ryan Sloan (No. 60, York), a Wake Forest recruit, combine right now stuff with even higher upside. Oblen, already up to 91 mph, holds a full arsenal of pitches that play up even higher thanks to advanced pitchability and polish. Sloan, a durably-built 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has workhorse starter potential, and creates HOP with the fastball thanks to a flatter vertical approach angle, and shows aptitude for spin including a future out-pitch in the slider, which has the makings of a wipeout pitch moving forward.

Cole Crafton OF / 3B / Lincoln-Way West, IL / 2024

From PBR Illinois State Games (6/27/21): "Crafton has a 6-foot-2, 175-pound, highly-athletic, high-waisted, frame and has been driving balls with authority all weekend long. Crafton is quiet and relaxed in the box with minimal moving parts. Crafton stays short and quick through the zone and creates extremely easy bat speed. Crafton launched a deep home run to right-field in his second at-bat and then lined a double into the right-center field gap in his third at-bat."

(6/27/21)

Collin Mowry C / INF / Lincoln-Way Central, IL / 2024

From IHSA Scout Blog (5/7/21): "Strong, 5-foot-10 170-pound build, developed lower-half. Defensively impressed at third-base. Lightning-quick reaction time, made two spectacular plays on hard hit balls to him that would have eaten up lesser defenders. Smooth hands with a quick transfer. Showed the ability to make the slow-roller play with ease in IO. Well above-average arm with strong/accurate throws across the infield. Offensively, the right-hander starts in an athletic stance. Quick,strong hands that work directly to the ball. Creates advanced bat speed for his age... "

(7/8/21)

+ While we broke down both Oblen and Sloan above, another Illinois right-hander has broken into the state’s top-10 overall and has made his national debut in the process: Ryan Anderson (Minooka; uncommitted). Anderson was one of the few ‘24s who earned a spot on Team Illinois at this summer’s PBR Future Games, following a break-out performance at a PBR tournament in the Milwaukee area earlier in the summer. It’s easy to dream on Anderson’s physical projection, thanks in part to his 6-foot-6, 188-pound high-waisted frame that’s attached to a clean arm. He works on-line down the mound, repeats fluidly, and the ball comes out of the hand with great ease. Anderson has been up to 86 mph, with plenty more in the tank and rounds it out with an above-average three-pitch mix.

Ryan Anderson (7/28/21)

+ One of several Nazareth Academy products inside the state’s Class of 2024 rankings, INF/RHP Nick Drtina is also one of Illinois’ five sophomores committed to Louisville. His two-way potential has drawn attention early in his prep career, especially his advanced left-handed bat. He has quick hands that work off a flat path, and he uses the whole field effectively, with a knack for hard contact. Drtina also saw varsity innings as a freshman for his high school, and the Roadrunners should be intriguing again in 2022. From the mound, Drtina is a strike-thrower who sits comfortably in the low-80s with a breaking ball he lands for strikes.

Nick Drtina (3/13/21)

+ Another two-way player, Charlie Vercruysse (Normal University; uncommitted), can also be called one of the class’ best athletes. Listed at a highly athletic, projectable, and tooled-up 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Vercruysse’s arm strength is one of his most obvious assets, as he’s reached an 89 mph high across the infield, and he’s been up to 86 mph from the mound, too. Additionally, Vercruysse is a 7.11 runner who generates noteworthy bat speed and above-average pop that we’ve seen play in-game, most memorably at the inaugural PBR Illinois State Games in Rantoul this past summer. 

+ LHP Justyn Hart (Marian Catholic; uncommitted) impressed most recently at the PBR Midwest Fall Championships, held at Grand Park in Indy, in front of Hunt as well. He published this report on the big lefty in the days that followed: “Hart was a close follow, for me, coming out of the summer after a quality performance at LakePoint, and the athleticism and ease of the arm stroke continue to promise much more to come. He worked 81-83 with the fastball which included minimal effort from a ¾ slot, and showed impressive mound presence going up against a talented lineup. Repeating a simple delivery with ease, Hart was able to find a consistent slot on the fastball, and while the breaking ball is still developing, there is a chance he develops a firmer slider to tunnel the fastball in the near future.

Justyn Hart (8/20/21)

ILLINOIS CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS

RANK NAME STATE SCHOOL CLASS POS. COMMITMENT
1 George Wolkow IL Downers Grove North 2024
3B/OF South Carolina
2 Cole Crafton IL Lincoln-Way West 2024 OF/3B Louisville
3 Collin Mowry IL Lincoln-Way Central 2024
C/INF Louisville
4 Luke Oblen IL DePaul College Prep 2024
RHP Louisville
5 Ryan Sloan IL  York 2024 RHP Wake Forest
6 Ryan Anderson IL  Minooka 2024 RHP -
7 Dennis Butler III IL Simeon 2024
OF Louisville
8 John Hughes IL  Nazareth Academy 2024  LHP -
9 Nick Drtina IL  Nazareth Academy 2024
INF/RHP Louisville
10 Malachi Paplanus IL Huntley 2024
RHP -

Keep an eye out for additional content coming out from our first edition of the PBR Illinois Class of 2024 Rankings. Next week, we’ll spend some time breaking down the players making their debuts on this list as we round out the state’s top-35.

CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED ILLINOIS 2024 RANKINGS *

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