Prep Baseball Report

Inside the Rankings: 2018 Newcomers

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Illinois updated 2018 rankings were released this week and yesterday we took a look at some of the biggest risers in the Top 100. We highlighted a few prospects who elevated their games over the course of the last four months and rose in the rankings.

Today we take a look at some guys who stood out since the last update and now find themselves in the rankings for the first time. Many of the newcomers were new to the PBR circuit or players we had been trying to see for a while. The rankings were expanded from 75 to 100 this time around, therefore making way for a number of new 2018 prospects.  Below we highlighted a handful of rising juniors who have made an impression since the last update.

Two uncommitted, left-handed pitchers, Antoine Kelly (Maine East) and Aidan Tyrell (Joliet Catholic), are the top newcomers in the updated rankings at No. 12 and No. 14 respectively. Kelly, a 6-foot-4 southpaw, features a loose arm and extremely easy delivery. It looks as though he is playing catch with his mid-80’s fastball. Tyrell whose velocity has jumped since the spring, sat 84-87 mph with feel for a curveball at the PBR Future Games.

RHP Derek Salata was a main contributor on the pitching staff for Nazareth HS this spring and parlayed that into an impressive summer. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound, sturdy, strong, right hander, is now in the Top 25, and was selected for the Future Games. He repeats well, commands his low-to-mid 80’s fastball, works downhill and more velocity is likely to come.

LHP James Kulak (Neuqua Valley) was the next highest newcomer at No. 33. Kulak is a lanky southpaw with a long, quick arm and has reportedly ran his fastball up to 87 mph. By the end of the spring, Kulak turned into the ace for Neuqua. On the spring he went 7-2 with a 1.47 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched.

Nate Gomez (South Elgin) and Ari Gordon (Stevenson), two right-handed pitchers made their first appearance in the rankings and now sit in the top 40. Gomez sat 86-88 mph at an event this summer while Gordon was one of the top prospects at the Underclass Trials after sitting 84-87 mph.

Two more right-handed pitchers find themselves in the top 50, Andrew Hancock (Lincoln-Way Central) and Nick Laxner (Huntley).

Some other notable newcomers include 1B Jaylen Heard (Marian Catholic), SS Jonathon Cruz (Elgin Academy), RHP/SS Hayden Juenger (Collinsville), RHP/SS Cam McDonald (Hall), C Jake Zylman (St. Rita), LHP Will McManaman (St. Ignatius), RHP Zach Fricke (Buffalo Grove), RHP/OF Christopher Miller (Plainfield North), RHP Ryan Vice (Lincoln-Way Central) and SS/RHP Vinnie Massaglia (Morton).

Also, 2018 state ranking updates are taking place around our coverage area and the 2018 overall rankings will be updated soon.

+ CLICK HERE for complete 2018 Illinois Rankings.
+ CLICK HERE for 2018 Illinois Ranking Risers