Illinois Class of 2026 Rankings: Initial Release

By: Drew Locascio & Diego Solares
PBR Illinois Staff

It is still extremely early, perhaps even premature, to be forecasting Class of 2026 prospects, especially since they have yet to play a high school spring season. Then again, with the acceleration of recruiting over the years, high-level 2026 prospects are already making verbal commitments.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen impressive talent in the 2026 class, ready to make their way through the high school scene. Several of the high-end talents should also be known on a national level as well. 

With that said, we have released our initial 2026 rankings, a modest list of five prospects that have stood out among their peers. Certainly this list will grow and change over time, as we know many players will grow, develop and come to the forefront of the class at different speeds. We also know that we likely haven’t seen a number of other 2026 prospects that may be deserving of this list.

However, we are confident that the five players included in the list have extremely bright futures, barring injuries, of course.


+ Heading the charge in this initial release is RHP/INF Callaghan O’Connor (Bishop McNamara), who we’ve become increasingly familiar with over the last two years or so. He stole the show at the McCook Rising Stars ID this April and impressed again at The Rock in June. O’Connor has been a member of Team Illinois at the PBR Junior Future Games twice, most recently this August as a standout prospect on a talented 14u squad. At 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, O’Connor produces easy mid-to-high-80s heat from a clean, repeatable delivery, and there’s plenty more in the tank that we’ll likely see down the road. The arm is free-flowing, loose and quick while showing the ability to spin a sharp breaking ball in the mid-to-high-60s as well. O’Connor rounds out his three-pitch repertoire with a quality changeup that plays with late fade and feel, giving him a starter profile moving forward. O’Connor has as high of a floor and ceiling as anyone we have seen in the class, to-date.

 Callaghan O'Connor

+ INF Ethan Bass (Glenbrook North; Illinois commit) slots in at the second spot on our first look at this class. Bass first made himself known to our staff at the McCook Rising Stars ID in April, putting together an impressive all-around showing and riding that momentum to The Rock in June. There, Bass shined across the tournament weekend, showing a high-level right-handed swing that hit for average and power while playing quality defense on the infield. He committed to Illinois later on in the summer and recently attended the Underclass Showcase in October where we received an up-close look at him prior to the winter starting. Bass showed more bat strength at that event, averaging 89.7 mph per batted ball with a 96.8 mph max and 370 ft. peak batted distance. He also ran a 7.09 60-yard dash and pitched in the low-80s with his fastball, spinning it at 2500+ RPM on average. Bass has the polish and tools to be a high-end offensive threat in this class moving forward. 

Ethan Bass

+ CIF/COF TJ McQuillan (Mount Carmel; Louisville) checks several boxes as a future middle-of-the-order impact bat and he debuts at No. 3 on the initial rankings. The 6-foot, 210-pound, physical freshman runs around the diamond better than his frame would indicate (7.15 60) while swinging a physical left-handed barrel with bat speed. McQuillan regularly reaches exit velocities in BP in the high-90s, including a 99.7 mph peak last March. Asides from his well advanced raw power, McQuillian owns an above-average feel to hit as well, finding the sweet-spot at a high rate and utilizing the whole field as a result. McQuillan is another member of Team Illinois’ Junior Future Games squad that looks like a high end name in this class. 

TJ McQuillan

+ MIF Landon Thome (Nazareth Academy) occupies the fourth spot on our state board. Thome, who’s the son of Hall of Famer Jim Thome, made himself known to our staff at The Rock this past summer. There, Thome showed polish and maturity at the plate for his age, using the whole field from a short, smooth left-handed stroke while unwillingly expanding the zone. He has the offensive profile to hit towards the top of a lineup moving forward. Thome’s fluid on the infield defensively as well, further enhancing an already impressive all-around skill set. 

Landon Thome

+ MIF Joey Ireland (Mount Carmel) rounds out our initial top-five in the state of Illinois. The 5-foot-11, 135-pound, loose-limbed, upside shortstop was yet another standout for Team Illinois at the Junior Future Games. Ireland is an advanced defender at shortstop who plays with fluidity, confidence and pace to his game to go along with soft hands, quick feet and advanced infield actions. His right-handed swing works flat and stays through the hitting zone a long time. Ireland also showed a knack for the barrel with a 70% sweet-spot percentage during his round of BP in September while working gap-to-gap. Ireland's tools should only continue to tick up as he adds quality strength to his upside frame down the road. 

Joey Ireland

Stay tuned for more coverage of some more 2026 names to know in Illinois, coming in the next couple of days.