Inside the Rankings: 2019 Risers

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Yesterday we updated and expanded the Illinois 2019 rankings. Over the last couple of months new faces have emerged and plenty of familiar faces have taken steps forward in their game. Today we take a look at some of the rising juniors who made an impression on the updated rankings.

One of the biggest risers near the top of the rankings is uncommitted RHP Ryan Keeley (Wheaton Warrenville South). Shut down for the summer due to an arm injury, Keeley made his first appearance in a long while this fall and provided a quick snapshot in his controlled two-inning stint of his high-ceiling potential. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has a long, athletic build and a loose, quick arm from a ¾ slot. Keeley showed late arm-side sink to his fastball that ranged between 85-87, topping at 88, and threw a high-volume of strikes. It’s easy to see that there’s plenty more velocity coming in the future as he works back into shape and continues to physically develop. He also flashed a slider that has the potential to be a swing-and-miss offering down the road.  

Ryan Keeley (10.4.17)

Now sitting in the Top 25 is OF/INF Beiker Fuentes (Crystal Lake South). Fuentes moved this summer to Illinois from Venezuela, following in the footsteps of his older brother Brian Fuentes, who is now at Wabash Valley JC. Fuentes made his first PBR appearance at the Class of 2019 Showcase in July but really turned heads this fall. At an event in October the switch-hitting Fuentes showed quick-twitch in his swing, ran a 6.79 60, was clocked and was 93 mph from the outfield. The highly-athletic Fuentes is one of the top uncommitted position players in the class.

Beiker Fuentes (10.15.17)

The No. 25 player in the class is now 3B Nick Kosmetatos (St. Francis), yet another uncommitted position player on the rise. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is an advanced defender at the hot corner. He has natural infield actions, soft receptive hands and a big arm (90 mph) with easy carry across the diamond. At the plate he has middle-of-the-order potential. Creates easy bat speed and the ball tends to jump off his bat.

Recent Eastern Kentucky commit, 1B/OF Kendal Ewell (Marist) climbed more than 20 spots and now comes in at No. 27. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder stands out in a uniform and continues to add quality strength to his frame. This fall Ewell ran a 6.93 60 and continued to prove he may have the best raw power in the class. The right-handed hitter showed off a simpler, more repeatable swing while still creating the same bat speed and loud contact we have been accustomed to seeing for years now.

Climbing 20 spots was RHP Taylor Catton (Dunlap), a Bradley commit. Catton pitched for the Reds Scout Team this fall and routinely sat in the upper-80’s while flashing a swing-and-miss breaking ball. Catton is highly competitive on the mound and comes right after hitters.

Uncommitted OF/1B Lukas Galdoni (Carmel Catholic) rose into the Top 50 in the state. Galdoni is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-handed power bat that continues to show better every time we get our eyes on him. He was recently clocked at 90 mph from the outfield and can hold his own as a corner outfielder or first baseman.

Two other big movers in the 2019 rankings are Marist products OF/INF Jack Brannigan and 1B Justin Janas. Brannigan, a recent Notre Dame commit, is a toolsy athlete who profiles as a CF at the next level. Brannigan has ran a 6.68 laser-timed 60 and reports have had him running sub 6.5 60’s as of late. His speed translates in game and he also has a strong arm, clocked at 91 mph from the outfield. Janas, an Illinois commit, is a left-handed bat with an advanced feel for hitting. Janas understands the strike zone, has good plate discipline, uses the whole field and controls the barrel.

Some other notable risers in the rankings are INF Andrew Kim (Libertyville), RHP Collin Wilma (Tinley Park), RHP Spencer Hasselroth (Rock Island), C/INF Max Malley (Marist), 3B Damon Gladney (Illiana Christian), MIF Ian Steinorth (York) and 3B/RHP Tommy Windt (Sandburg), among others.

Tomorrow we will touch on some of the notable newcomers to the updated rankings. 

CLICK HERE for complete Illinois 2019 Rankings.
+ CLICK HERE for the 2019 rankings story.