Illinois Underclass Showcase: Quick Hits

By Illinois Staff

On Oct. 25, the PBR Illinois staff hosted its final event of the year: the Underclass Showcase. This event was open to all of the state’s prospects in its 2023, 2024, and 2025 graduating classes, and allowed us to end our annual showcase circuit with a bang. Our staff was treated to a look at some of the brightest up-and-coming talents in the state, and we’re assorting our notes today, collaborating with each other on the day’s highlights inside of our Quick Hits analysis below.


+ The 6-foot-2, 165-pound, long-levered Luke Stulga (St. Laurence, 2023) is an aggressive action-y defender in the outfield, who really attacks the baseball and plays uptempo. Long, loose arm action, throws played true and on target, showing carry and accuracy. His rhythm on defense is supported by his 6.85 speed, the second-fastest 60-yard dash time of the event, and Stulga also impressed offensively. He showed a repeatable right-handed swing with bat speed and rhythm while working uphill through the zone. Stulga also recorded one of the top max exit velocities of the event, at 92.3 mph according to TrackMan.

+ Frederick Ragsdale III (Lyons Township, 2023) is an athletic left/left prospect who moves around the outfield well, with natural actions, where his 7.13 speed plays. Offensively, he’s a top-of-the-order type of bat who utilizes the whole field from the left side, with loose hands capable of spraying line-drives around the diamond. Ragsdale’s stock will only continue to rise as he continues to mature and develop physically, adding strength.

+ Krew Bond (Mendota Township, 2023) has aggressive actions in the outfield; he attacked the baseball with an in-stride, athletic crow hop while unleashing throws that carried home, topping an event-high 89 mph. From the right-handed batter’s box, he shows more controlled aggression. Bond swings with fluid, loose hands that produce a quick bat, helping him connect for a lot of line-drive contact.

+ The Oswego East sophomore trio of Polubinskis – Zach, Mike, and Josh – each showed well as outfielders on Sunday, grading similarly across the board. Each stands in at a physical 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3, wielding above-average arm strength from the outfield, while swinging projectable right-handed bats. Mike topped 85 mph to home, one of the event’s highest, though Josh moved around the outfield fluidly as well, while recording some hard-hit contact. Mike also ran the quickest 60 of the three (7.20), and he and Zach both offered some consistent, hard line-drive contact with frequency.

+ OF Drew Gilley (New Trier, 2023) has an innate strength that appears on both sides of the ball. His throws home from the outfield topped 86 mph, the second-highest at the showcase, and his left-handed bat produced some loud barrels.


+ Cal Sefcik (Marist, 2023) has an authentic case to have recorded the day’s best and loudest round of batting practice, while also turning in one of the best sessions of infield defense. Offensively, Sefcik’s right-handed bat was constantly on-time and on the barrel, making for some especially loud contact into the left-center gap – and not just for his age. He looks like a long-term fit anywhere on the infield, too, demonstrating advanced body control and athleticism, in addition to the day’s firmest throws to first (87 mph).

+ St. Laurence’s Jesse Contreras (2023) sticks out for his easy, smooth left-handed bat. His swing is short and fluid, which allows him to repeat it well and spray line-drives to all fields. A sophomore middle infielder to know as he continues to get stronger.

+ Ryan Niedzwiedz (West Aurora, 2023) has emerged as a high-follow sophomore in Illinois after his complete performance on Sunday. Most notably, his left-handed bat proved to be one of the best in attendance. During his round, Niedzwiedz showed off easy, twitchy swings that work off a natural inclined plane in a gap-to-gap profile. His top batted ball left the barrel at 96.0 mph, one of the day’s hardest hit balls, while also producing bat speed with plane accuracy. There’s some added upside on the infield as well, with steady and improving actions coupled with arm strength – and he’s a 7.27 runner.

+ Cristian Ruiz (Oak Lawn Community, 2023) was responsible for another one of the day’s standout performances on defense. He plays with a confidence, swagger, and bounce making it easy to picture him patrolling the middle of the diamond. He’s also an athletic switch-hit bat to follow and check back in on after the offseason.

+ Colin Schmitke (Stevenson, 2023) put together a standout day overall on Sunday. In addition to showcasing plus actions on the infield – with an athleticism and glovework that should allow him to continue projecting as a shortstop – Schmitke’s round of BP was also among the day’s most memorable. He swings a fluid and fast right-handed bat, with strength in his hands, that helps him barrel balls into both gaps, on repeat.

+ Eduardo Letamendi (Von Steuben, 2023) has an upside frame that comfortably projects, listed at a thin, broad-shouldered 5-foot-11, 165 pounds. He’s a right-handed hitter with a loose, athletic swing that requires minimal effort to make a loud impact. He recorded among the day’s hardest hit balls, on average, with a natural lift in his swing that projects for pull-side power as he continues to fill out his physical potential. Defensively, Letamendi demonstrates the hands and actions to project to the left side, he’ll just need to grow into a little more usable arm strength.

+ SS/3B Charlie Wolf (St. Ignatius, 2023) is also built at a projectable 6-foot, 155 pounds, with lanky levers while establishing that he’s well-adapted to his size, having run a 7.07 in the 60-yard dash. His athleticism showed through on defense where he looks like he can become an asset at third base, with soft hands and arm strength. On offense, Wolf’s right-handed bat recorded above-average bat speed consistently, working off a short, direct path off an uphill plane, with extension through contact. Keep an eye on this upside sophomore.


+ C Colin Barczi (Naperville Central, 2023) is looking more and more like a high-follow member of this state’s sophomore class. Inside a projectable, strong 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, Barczi still managed to run a 6.91 while also taking an impactful round of batting practice. His measurements were at or near the top of each of the categories he participated in. He was constantly on the barrel, pounding the gaps at an average exit velocity of 88.3 mph while producing one of the highest average bat speed marks (74.2 mph). Barczi will work on reining in his premium arm strength from behind the plate (topping an event-high 78 mph), but he has all of the necessary actions to grow into the position.

+ Oswego’s Tyler Stack (2023) is built at an impressive and imposing 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and his long levers do not get in his way, defensively. In fact, Stack proved to harness premium athleticism for someone his size and age, starting the day with a 7.03 time in the 60, eventually producing the lowest average pop times by a considerable margin. His throws topped 77 mph, with accuracy, and he also swings a gap-to-gap bat from the right-handed box. Stack averaged an exit velocity of nearly 83 mph and he should continue to tap into more bat strength as he efficiently fills out his upside build.

+ C/1B Andy Roman’s (Wheaton Academy, 2023) aggressive right-handed swings made for some of the hardest-hit contact of the day, supported by TrackMan, as his top exit velocity (98.8 mph) was also the event’s highest. He’s a physical 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, and it looks like Roman is just beginning to tap into some of this class’ best raw power potential. Defensively, Roman has arm strength, which helped him record some of the showcase’s lowest pops, but he may grow into more of a fit at first base long-term. Regardless, his fierce righty bat looks capable of carrying him onto the next level.


+ It’s always exciting to learn of a new high-follow name to add to our prospect board, and RHP Derek Jahn (Warren Township, 2023) stole the show amidst his sophomore peers. Standing at a physical, muscular 6-foot, 195 pounds, Jahn opened his bullpen with a 91 mph fastball, eventually topping 93.3, per TrackMan. Coupled with the obvious live velocity, the pitch spun at an average rate of nearly 2,500 rpm. He also flashed notable feel for his changeup, and he threw one swing-and-miss type slider. It’s understandable that Jahn hasn’t yet established the ability to locate his explosive stuff, but regardless, this look propelled him into elite company among the state’s top-ranked names.

+ Another Warren arm, RHP Adam Behrens (2023) earned some attention during his ‘pen. At a physical 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Behrens features a heavy, low-spin, low-80s fastball, topping 84 mph, at an average extension of 6.45 feet, tied for the largest at the showcase. There’s three-pitch upside here, as he also showed a change and the feel to spin a 12/6 type breaking ball, too.

+ RHP/INF William Ho (Hinsdale Central, 2023) trimmed muscle into his sturdy 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame, with noteworthy strength in the lower half. His mid-80s fastball topped 87 mph, featuring hard arm-side run/life with carry through the zone. Ho also produced a solid round of batting practice, with strong hands that look to loft hard-hit contact consistently.

+ RHP Jacob McPherson (Reed-Custer, 2023) showed an above-average three-pitch mix from a projectable 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame. His 80-83 mph fastball showed late run and sink, with carry and spin – and he also showed the ability to spot it well for his age. McPherson mixed in an 11/5 breaking ball at arm speed that flashed sharp break, also thrown with feel. He located the changeup effectively, too, featuring familiar sink/fade while maintaining his typical arm speed.

+ RHP Christian Graves (Marengo, 2023) has a quick and clean arm that he repeats well, utilizing a low effort delivery that projects to fill up the strike zone. He sat 83-84 mph on Sunday, touching 85, with tilt and life through the zone. For his offspeed, Graves goes to a changeup with run/fade, and he showed the early ability to spin a breaking ball, he’ll just have to work on sharpening up its action to induce more swings and misses.

+ From Newark, RHP Joseph Martin (2023) showed one of the day’s best fastballs. Sitting 82-83 mph, touching 85, Martin’s four-seamer exhibits true backspin with above-average spin that generates carry through the zone, coming from a lower release height. His quick arm produces a couple different breaking balls, and while both are a little raw and inconsistent right now, they each project well.

+ RHP Taylor Waldron (Marquette Academy, 2023) is a low-80s arm right now in a smaller 5-foot-11, 145-pound build, but he demonstrates an advanced feel to pitch with a clean arm that really works. He was up to 83 mph with a low-spin fastball that shows above-average carry and big arm-side run. Waldron’s changeup complements his fastball effectively, with similar action at arm speed and he spots it well.

+ LHP Lleyton Grubich (McHenry, 2023) has ticked up in a short period of time. He was sitting 75 mph earlier this month at the Fall Limited Series, and on Sunday, Grubich sat 81-82 mph, touching 83. He works from a low ¾ slot, averaging the lowest release height of all the arms in attendance (4.12 feet), and it helps the fastball generate some substantial arm-side run, and he’s comfortable locating it. The changeup projects as his best offspeed right now, as it matches his slot and arm speed with similar horizontal break. He's a 5-foot-10, 170-pound southpaw with a clean, loose arm to know in this sophomore class.

2024 & 2025 PROSPECTS

+ Freshman RHP Luke Oblen (DePaul College Prep, 2024) is special. It’s simply rare to encounter an arm as live as Oblen’s reach upper-80s velocity with such little effort, and at this age no less. He is extremely polished for a freshman arm, featuring an above-average three-pitch mix. Oblen sat at an effortless 87-88 mph, touching 89, with life and run, and he demonstrated a feel to command it. The changeup features hard fade/run with sinking action to his arm side, and he has an early feel to spin his 10/4 breaking ball, flashing depth and sharpness. He is one of the top 2024s we’ve seen to date.

+ SS/2B Kaiden Maurer (Maroa-Forsyth, 2024) put together one of the best rounds of infield defense on Sunday. Maurer’s actions are savvy, and he attacks ground balls with swagger and moxy. His hands play soft and confidently, and his athleticism shows itself best on the move as he ranges to his left and right. Maurer recorded a 7.27 time in the 60, and his gait and aforementioned athleticism aid his speed to project as an impact tool. A right-handed hitter, there’s a looseness and twitch to his swings, and he’ll hit the ball with a greater authority as he continues to develop.

+ Luke Jurack (Hinsdale Central, 2024) showed well at a couple fall PBR Tournaments, and he maintained that momentum into Sunday, where he made his PBR showcase debut. There, Jurack ran a 6.97, a highlight-worthy mark for his age, and he swung a fluid, athletic right-handed bat that projects. Defensively, Jurack is becoming known for his versatility, as he can handle multiple positions both in the outfield and on the infield. On Sunday, however, he utilized his speed best in the outfield, complemented by athletic, quick actions and above-average arm strength. That combination of tools sounds like it could help him grow into a center field profile long-term.

+ INF Andrew Gould (Neuqua Valley, 2024) is an athletic defender with natural infield instincts. His short, loose, quick arm played well and carried across, and he demonstrated some upside abilities from the right-handed batter’s box, too. Gould swings a simple, balanced bat off a short and direct path to the zone that lives within the zone for a long time. He’s a follow freshman to take note of inside the state’s 2024 class.

+ OF Mason W. Phillips (Oak Park-River Forest, 2024) clocked the day’s top 60-yard dash time (6.81) inside a live, wiry 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. His athleticism makes itself known on defense, especially in his footwork and on approach to the baseball, and he’ll just need to work on refining his transfers – though he’s already come a long way in 2020, as he’s added 10 mph to his throws from the outfield since February. Offensively, Phillips is already showing some bat speed and he topped 86.2 mph exit velocity during BP, at a max distance of 329 feet. It’s an exciting, athletic profile to follow.

+ Another high-follow freshman arm emerged amidst this 2024 crowd Sunday: Michael Furmanek (Plainfield East). Listed at 6-foot-3, 164 pounds, Furmanek’s frame obviously projects, and his long, loose, quick arm sat exclusively at 84-85 mph, with run. His big extension and low release point make for an uncomfortable at-bat, and the slot helps him feature a sweeping slider with an average horizontal break of -15.2 inches, near the day’s most among sliders.

+ Representing the 2025 class, switch-hitter OF Henry Murray (N/A) established himself as an early name to know among his peers. His swing from both sides of the plate projects well, though he repeats it especially smoothly from the left-handed box. Murray flashed some bat speed for his age, too, and repeated well enough to produce exit speeds exclusively in the 82.5 to 84.3 mph range.