Prep Baseball Report

Illinois Class of 2024 Rankings: On the Radar

By Andy Sroka & Drew Locascio
Illinois Staff

Last week, the PBR Illinois staff released its first edition of the state’s Class of 2024 rankings. Within that story, we broke down the state’s top-14 prospects, considering that Illinois’ 14 best are each ranked on the national top-500, giving it a chance to become one of the deepest groups in recent memory.

Today, we’ll continue to break down our initial top-35 by discussing some of the players ranked in spots Nos. 15-35, all of whom are currently uncommitted.


Luke Teschke RHP / SS / Monticello, IL / 2024

Debuting at No. 15 overall in the state’s sophomore rankings: RHP Luke Teschke (Monticello). Teschke was invited to July’s Underclass Games where he stood out as one of the top arms in attendance. Teschke gets down the mound fluidly, has a clean, quick arm, ran his fastball up to 86 mph and threw a high-volume of strikes. He also has above-average feel and action on his three-pitch mix which gives him a starter profile moving forward. High-floor, high-ceiling prospect from the central part of the state.


+ While ranked near each other as top-20 prospects in this class, RHP Aidan Hayse (Morris) and LHP Luca Fiore (Nazareth Academy) are very different types of pitchers. The two starred multiple times this summer and fall at The Rock Complex in Wisconsin at a couple different PBR Tournaments, and their in-game performances helped assert themselves as top sophomores in the state.

Hayse is a highly projectable 6-foot-3, 170-pound righty with a live arm that reached an 86 mph high back in September, paired with a sharp breaking ball that exhibits swing-and-miss action. As for Fiore, the southpaw continually demonstrates advanced pitchability traits with high-level spin metrics, and not just for his age. His clean and smooth arm produces a low-80s fastball from a ¾ slot that sneaks up on hitters, and Fiore has an excellent feel to spin and locate two different breaking balls, as well as a fading change. Fiore has performed in each and every one of our looks, routinely missing barrels and controlling the game from the mound. Competitive left-handed who should continue to see his velocity tick up as he moves through high school.

Luca Fiore (9/24/21)

+ RHP/INF Landon Mensik (Lincoln-Way Central) is sandwiched between the aforementioned arms on the ‘24 board, at No. 19 overall in the state. Built at a lean and athletic 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, Mensik has a simple, clean and athletic delivery to go along with a compact, uninterrupted arm action that projects for much more to come. Mensik, who saw quality innings for Lincoln-Way Central’s varsity squad (21-5-1 record in 2021) as a freshman, pounds the strike zone with a low-80’s fastball and has advanced feel to land his breaking ball for a strike. From our looks, Mensik arguably has just as much upside as a position player thanks to his right-handed bat. Mensik has athletic, twitchy hands, stays short and compact to the baseball while creating natural backspin and lift to both gaps. 


Cooper Malamazian SS / RHP / Nazareth Academy , IL / 2024

Ranked at No. 17 overall in the state, INF/RHP Cooper Malamazian (Nazareth Academy) propelled himself up our internal list throughout the year, stemming from March’s Underclass Invitational where he took one of the showcase’s best rounds of infield defense, fit with the traits to continue playing shortstop at a high level, and for the foreseeable future. Malamazian maintained the momentum throughout the IHSA season, starting at shortstop for Nazareth who finished 27-11 on the season. The 5-foot-11, 150-pound frame continues to get better upon each look and he has plenty of continued physical development to tap into moving forward. He should be a staple on the left-side of the diamond for years to come and his loose right-handed swing should only continue to improve as he adds more strength.


+ INF Jonathan Fleaka (Lake Zurich) has been another one of the year’s most productive in-game performers in front of our staff. At a number of PBR Tournaments and events in 2021, Fleaka’s right-handed bat has stood out amongst his peers. He stands in the box with confidence and is selectively aggressive with an advanced feel for the strike zone. Fleaka hunts mistakes and given his high-level bat to ball skills, flat path that stays through the hitting zone a long time, he makes consistent loud/hard contact to all fields. He’s a compact 5-foot-10, 165 pounds with budding strength and minimal swing-and-miss. 

Jonathan Fleaka (9/25/21)

+ INF James Novakovic (New Trier) 6-foot-1, 180-pound has long been on our radar thanks to strong performances at the Junior Future Games and events in the past and he continues to improve his skillset at each look. Most recently, Novakovic made a statement at the PBR Midwest Fall Championships at Grand Park in September thanks to his heady, advanced shortstop play and upside left-handed swing: “Has a fluidness to everything he does on the diamond. Athletic defensive actions, was comfortable playing on the move and can throw from multiple slots. Made a highlight-reel sliding play up the middle, flipping the ball to second base for the force out. Offensively, pre-pitch rhythm and aggressive swing. Path works uphill, selectively aggressive, heavy barrel at times and sneaky strength in swing. One of the better left-handed hitting shortstops we have seen to-date in the ‘24 class.

+ Two De La Salle middle infielders land on the inaugural 2024 rankings list; Kenny Perez and Joey Barboza.

Perez has fluidness, confidence and rhythm to everything he does on the field. Offensively, he has active pre-pitch rhythm and a loose, long swing that stays through the zone a long time. Defensively, he is a natural infield defender who plays light on his feet with a bounce in his step. The confidence is evident, especially on the move where he trusts his hands, plays through the baseball and his whippy arm plays accurately across the diamond. 

Barboza impressed at August’s White Sox ACE Scout Day event, where we reported this: “... another up-the-middle defender to show well at this event. Built at a wiry 5-foot-11, 155-pounds, Barboza’s intentful right-handed stroke peppered the entire field with line drives and comfortably took pitches on the outer half to right field. He showed some twitchy hand speed and repeated well, keeping the barrel through the hitting zone a long time. Defensively, Barboza has some of the better actions we have seen to-date in the class. He fields with a different confidence and demeanor than most kids his age with a natural feel for the middle of the infield and the arm and feet to stay up the middle. His glove-to-hand exchange is quick and his arm plays short and loose with the ability to throw from multiple slots depending on the play. Barboza topped out at 85mph across the infield. Barboza is a high follow 2024.


+ C Randall Nauden (Marian Catholic) was one of the only underclassmen to earn an invitation to the PBR Future Games this past summer to represent Team Illinois. His performance inside the 15U division at June’s PBR National Program Invitational helped get him there: “5-foot-10, 175-pound frame with broad shoulders, strong lower half and present strength throughout. Turned in a stellar performance for Top Tier during its 10-1 victory, driving in half the team’s runs with five RBI. Nauden spun on a fastball for a home run in his first at-bat, and followed it with a double down the left-field line. Flashed above-average arm strength for age behind the plate. High-follow in the 2024 class.”

Randall Nauden (7/28/21)

+ An enhanced offensive profile has pushed C Sir Jamison Jones (St. Rita) into a high-follow category of prospect, demonstrated most recently at the White Sox ACE Scout Day as well as the PBR Fall Championship at Grand Park. Here is a note on him from the Scout Day at the end of August: “... now standing at a well-proportioned 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. That added strength continues to enhance his impactful offensive profile. Jones made loud contact seemingly everywhere he went this summer and showed it once again at the event. Jones has a short, compact swing with feel for the barrel and makes hard contact to both gaps. Jones took one of the more polished rounds of BP on the day. Defensively, Jones has long featured above-average receiving abilities and soft hands behind the plate. The biggest takeaway for us was the improvement he has shown in his arm, topping at 74 mph. The velocity plays up as well, due to the fact that he gets on top of the baseball and throws a true ball with carry to the second base bag.”

Sir Jamison Jones (8/20/21)


Jonah Weathers UTL / RHP / Marian Catholic, IL / 2024

UTIL/RHP Jonah Weathers (Marian Catholic) features one of the high-upsides on this list. A two-sport standout (basketball), Weathers has routinely shown a knack for the barrel and hard contact in game. It is an extremely simple, repeatable, right-handed swing that spends a long time staying through the hitting zone with the ability to handle both sides of the plate. Weathers natural hit tool and upside 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame make it easy to dream on what he could become a few years down the road. He has seen his 60 time drop from 7.68 in 2019 to a 6.93 in 2021 and his other tools have taken big steps as well. In 2021, he topped at 85 mph across the infield (up from 69 mph in 2019), 86 mph from the outfield and his exit velocity is up to 90 mph. For good measure, he also hops on the mound and pounds the strike zone behind a fastball that we have had up to 83 mph. High-upside 2024 who continues to make strides every time we see him.


+ OF Mason Phillips (Oak Park-River Forest) brings to the ballpark eye-catching athleticism that’s easy to spot. Phillips, a 6-foot, 175-pound, defined, center fielder, runs a 6.67 60 and started on varsity this past spring. During the spring we saw him take a number of competitive at-bats against high-level velocity as well as playing a well-above average center field covering ground with ease. He once again showed well at September’s PBR Midwest Fall Championships: “6-foot, 175-pound, highly-athletic, high-waisted, right-handed hitting outfielder. Started in center field and hit at the top of the order for Cangelosi North. Bounces around the field, light on his feet and speed (6.67 60 in the past) plays in game. Takes consistent, quality at-bats against velocity. Strong, athletic hands, short and quick to the ball and looks to control the barrel. Well above-average defensive center fielder. Quick first step and flashes elite closing speed. Also showed off a strong, accurate arm, firing a strike to home plate…”


Eric DeCosta CIF / C / Wheaton Warrenville South, IL / 2024

CIF/C Eric DeCosta (Wheaton Warrenville South) burst onto the scene this past March at the Underclass Invitational and looks capable of becoming one of this class’ top power threats. He is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound, long, loose-limbed prospect with plenty more room for continued physical development down the road. He took one of the more eye-opening rounds of BP back in March, saw some time for the Tigers varsity squad during the IHSA season and caught our eye once again this June at the PBR Illinois State Games. High-ceiling offensive profile.


+ A couple of physical left-handed bats in the class to take note of: CIF Cash Campbell (Montini Catholic) and 1B/OF Jack Swaney (Springfield). Both Campbell and Swaney played big roles on varsity this past spring and offer similar middle-of-the-order profiles. Campbell has loose, strong hands with the ability to wrist flick baseballs to all fields with authority. Swaney was critical to his high school squad’s IHSA 3A state title this past spring as only a freshman. Swaney stands in the box with a relaxed confidence that is well beyond his years. He has a quiet overall swing while creating advanced bat speed with relative ease. He made some of the loudest contact we saw at the 3A State Finals, as only a freshman. 

+ SS/3B Nate Harris (Yorkville), coming in at No. 25 on the list, burst onto the scene at the 15U National Championship and then again this fall at the PBR At The Rock Fall Championship. Harris has a 6-foot-3, 190-pound, highly-advanced, strong frame and made some of the hardest contact we saw all tournament long at The Rock. Harris destroyed a home run to left-center field that looked to be still rising as it went over the fence. To go along with the present power, he also showed a feel to hit and he runs extremely well for his size at his age. Defensively, we have seen him at shortstop but given his frame it would be easy to envision him moving to third base down the road. Regardless, the size and right-handed bat warrant a top-25 ranking in the class.

+ UTIL Savion Flowers (Kenwood) carries considerable projection, at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, and he’s athletic enough to use his long levers to run a 7.14, recorded at the White Sox ACE Scout Day. His loose left-handed swing offers significant upside, while, defensively, his best position is not yet clear – though we’ve seen his versatility play all over, from catcher, third, to the outfield.