Prep Baseball Report

Joliet Preseason ID: Takeaways

By: Illinois Scouting Staff

On Sunday, Feb. 26, the PBR Illinois team hosted the Joliet Preseason ID at Rhino Baseball Academy in Shorewood, Ill. The event featured almost 130 players from the surrounding area and gave our staff an in-depth look at numerous prospects before the IHSA season takes off.

Today, our staff collaborated to bring our scouting takeaways from the day inside this Quick Hits piece. Below you’ll find which prospects caught our attention, in one way or another, at Sunday’s event. 


+ One of the more impressive physical standouts from the event was OF Brady Grabowski (Streator, 2023; Murray State commit). Listed at 6-foot-3, 208-pounds, Grabowski moves extremely well for his size, cruising to a 7.00 in the 60-yard dash to start his day and also boasting athletic actions in the outfield. Short arm action that plays strong and true, topping at 88 mph from the outfield. The right-handed hitter showed off some high-level BLAST metrics during his round of BP; averaging 22.7 mph for his hand-speed (T24 mph) and also averaging 73.8 mph for his bat-speed (T77.9 mph). His round of BP showed flashes of high-level bat-strength, back-spinning balls up the middle and to the pull-side with authority (T95.3 mph; 88.7 mph average). 

+ OF Anthony Xydakis (Morris, 2024) stood out as one of the top defensive outfielders in attendance. Xydakis played with a different pace and tempo to his game, bouncing around with quick and active feet, covering ground with ease. He has confident hands and a strong, lively arm that topped at 90 mph. The right-handed hitter took an impressive round of BP, averaging 94.2 mph and reaching up to 98.2 mph with a loose, uphill swing that works to the whole field. His BLAST Metrics were also highly impressive; averaging 77.8 mph for his bat-speed (T82.2 mph) and 21.8 for his rotational acceleration (T27.1). 

+ At a quick glance, infielder Eron Vega (Evanston, 2024), was one of the top uncommitted follows coming out of the strong crop of position players. Vega is confident for his age, playing with a fluidness and flair to his all-around game. The hands play soft and he is comfortable ranging to each side on the infield while showing well above-average glove-to-hand actions and the ability to throw from any platform. His arm played easy and accurate at 81 mph across. Natural up-the-middle defender with the tools to stick on the dirt at the next level. Listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, the right-handed hitter showcased a controlled, athletic right-handed swing that worked line drives to the middle of the field, remaining flat and short to the ball with quick hands - reaching up to 94.7 mph with a max distance of 332’.

+ Purdue Northwest commit, INF Nicolas Mangano (Marian Catholic, 2023), took one of the top rounds of infield defense we saw on the day. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound middle infield carries his strength well in his frame and bounced around the infield with playable, quality actions and a pace to his game. He has active feet and soft hands that play out front and flow naturally into a strong arm that plays true and carries across the diamond at 88 mph. The 7.02 runner looks to be a sure fit up the middle of an infield moving forward.

+ INF JT Augustyniak (Plainfield Central, 2025) was another natural on the infield with confident, clean actions. Augustyniak plays from the ground up with soft hands that play out front. He also turned a crisp, mature double play and was natural on the run-thru/body control play with a clean arm that played true at 80 mph across the diamond. The right handed hitter also ran a 7.26 60 and gets some leverage out of his size, registering a 90.9 mph peak exit velocity.

+ INF Niko Villacci (Oswego East, 2026) is a young, smooth infielder who also swung a well above-average right-handed bat. Defensively, he plays with an ease to his game, low to the ground with soft hands and looks natural on the move. His arm, which has the ability to play from multiple slots, topped at 82 mph (T84 at a recent event). At the plate, the right-handed hitter has a loose right-handed swing with controlled aggression, working uphill through the zone and using the middle of the field. His swing looks to project into some more power as he continues to add weight and strength in the future. 

+ OF David Kundrat (Lockport, 2026) is a freshman to keep tabs on moving forward. Listed at 5-foot-10, 150-pounds, Kundrat still has plenty of filling out to do in the coming years. His left-handed swing is simple and shows some upside, working with a flat path through the zone to pepper line-drives up the middle and to his pull-side. 

+ OF Ben Flerlage (Latin School of Chicago) is an unsigned senior that came out of the gates and made a statement at the event, showing off a plus-arm from the outfield that topped at 95 mph. He also is an athletic mover in the outfield that plays lighter and better on his feet than his 60-time would indicate. He also has some strength in his 6-foot, 180-pound, right-handed swing; registering a peak exit velocity of 95 mph, averaging 84.5 mph. His 71.9 mph average bat speed was top-six at the event. 

+ OF Ryan Young (Manteno, 2024), Ashton Janowski (Oak Forest. 2025) and Camden Fenton (Pontiac, 2025) were three more quality defensive outfielders to follow from the day. 

Young is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound, left/left outfielder who was aggressive in the outfield with fluid, natural footwork, playing through the baseball clean and in rhythm while topping out at 85 mph.

Janowski is listed at a well-proportioned, 6-foot, 187-pounds, ran a 7.34 60 and played light on his feet, getting around the baseball and playing through in rhythm while topping at 83 mph.

Fenton has a wiry 6-foot, 152-pound frame and he is a fluid, athletic mover in the outfield who ran a 7.01 60 and topped at 84 mph.  

+ Alex Tabbart (Prospect, 2024), Colin Pfeifer (Morris, 2025), Charlie Kalil (Evanston, 2024), Andrew Mueller (St. Francis, 2024), Noah Pharo (Minooka, 2025), Samuel Calderon (East Leyden, 2026), Novotney (mentioned below) and Dominic Stottler (United Township, 2026) all showed above-average infield actions and should have a chance to stick on the dirt moving forward.

+ Catcher Mason Palermo (Oswego East, 2025) was one of the more complete catchers in attendance. Palermo has a 5-foot-11, 167-pound frame and is an above-average runner for his age, at 7.11 (7.01 in 2022). He also showed athletic actions coming out of the crouch, popping an event low 1.98-2.03 pop times to go along with a 77 mph arm from the crouch. Offensively, the right-handed hitter registered a 64% sweet-spot percentage and worked with loose hands and an uphill path. 


+ Southpaw freshman Braydon McKendrick (Brother Rice, 2026) was one of the bigger winners on the day, regardless of class. McKendrick is an athletic 5-foot-10, 165-pounds who sat a comfortable 81-82 mph, touching 83 mph and flashing slight arm side action. He showed excellent feel for a sinking changeup and showed a ton of upside on a sharp slider with depth when synced up. At the plate, the left-handed hitter sprayed line-drives routinely throughout his round of BP with a loose and repeatable stroke. He also showed to be an above-average defender, boasting athletic actions with soft hands, gaining ground through release and reaching up to 83 mph. The 7.32 runner made the most of his PBR debut, emerging as a high-follow 2026 moving forward.

+ OF/RHP Ian Campbell (Joliet Catholic, 2026) is mentioned down below for his prowess on the mound, but he also caught our eye as an athletic two-way prospect to keep tabs on. Campbell boasts a highly-impressive frame and well above-average tools and actions across the board. Offensively, the right-handed hitter found himself towards the top of numerous statistical categories, despite being a freshman. He peaked at 97.6 mph off the bat (89.4 mph average) and launched his furthest batted ball 349’, second-best at the event. He also led the event in average bat speed at 78.6 mph and was third with a 23.3 mph average hand speed. The 7.34 runner also moved around well in the outfield, playing with a bounce and athleticism to his game with natural outfield actions and a big arm that played at 88 mph. Athletic, high-floor prospect with more notes on his pitching below.

+ OF/RHP Adam Gerl (Lincoln-Way West, 2025) was impressive on both sides of the ball at Joliet. The right-handed hitter showed above-average power with a max exit velocity of 94.8 mph, averaging 87 mph with a max distance of 340’. He also showed well above-average arm strength on the mound, reaching up to 85 mph to pair with a short 11/5 curveball and a late fading changeup. Ran a 7.09 laser-timed 60.

+ OF Cody DelFavero (Morris, 2024) is listed at a lean 5-foot-10, 180-pounds with an athletic build and round shoulders. The left-handed hitter has quick/strong hands at the plate with controlled aggression, staying on the barrel to his pull-side and up the middle, reaching up to 94.6 mph for his max exit velocity (348’ max distance). DelFavero plays lighter and quicker on his feet than his size would indicate in the outfield. He attacks the baseball and takes quality routes, playing through with intent and a strong, clean arm that topped at 88 mph.

+ OF Elliot Alicea (Burlington Central, 2024) is physically impressive, standing 6-foot-3, 185-pounds with round shoulders and strength throughout his frame. His strength easily translated to the left-handed batter’s box, reaching up to 100 mph for his max exit velocity with a loose and violent uphill swing, averaging 94.7 mph and reaching up to 373’ for his max distance. He moves well for his size, recording a 6.82 in the 60-yard dash to pair with a strong arm (T89 mph OF). His arm strength easily translates to the mound, sitting 83-85 mph with a simple and directional delivery. He also showed feel for a sharp 11/5 curveball and straight change. 


+ The future of the Joliet Catholic pitching staff showed well on Sunday. A trio of Hilltopper youngsters showed some premium stuff that could impact the staff sooner rather than later. The biggest winner of the three might have come from freshman Ian Campbell (2026). Campbell looks every bit the part at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with a young look on an athletic frame with big hands and feet that will carry plenty more mass as he matures. He already generates premium fastball velocity at his age working 81-85 mph and flashing ride at the top of the zone. While his spin is still a work in progress, he throws his curveball with intent at 69-73 mph. He also showed a knack for hard contact at the plate, working with a simple/easy operation and natural lift through impact - averaging 89.4 mph and reaching up to 97.6 mph for his max exit velocity (349’ max distance). Freshman LHP Rocco Szambelan (2026) is another athletic arm at 6-foot, 165-pounds. He showed plenty of upside with an upper 70’s fastball from the left side and an upside slider that flashed sharp action and depth. Sophomore LHP Lucas Grant (2025) gave a similarly impressive look, sitting in the 81-82 mph range with over 2,300 RPM at times. He also showed a knack to spin the breaking ball with over 2,300 RPM once again at 71-73 mph. To fill out his three-pitch mix he went to a fading changeup at 73-75 mph with some feel for the zone. Grant also topped at 86 mph from the outfield. 

+ At 5-foot-9, 135-pounds, RHP Alec Novotney (Marquette Academy, 2026) has an unassuming presence, but showed an advanced skill set on the mound.      He’s a small wiry frame who works athletically on the mound with a clean arm and repeatable delivery, showing a high level of pitchability for his age. As a freshman, his fastball is on the verge of breaking 80 mph, but the arm action and curveball spin says he’s not far off from reaching it. His breaking ball was a separator for his age, he flashed sharp action on an 11/5 plane with good overall feel and confidence in the pitch, on top of spinning it in the 2400’s.

+ RHP Matthew Szyska (Prospect, 2024) is a highly recruitable junior with advanced pitchability and feel on the mound. He’s 6-foot-1, 170-pounds with plenty of room to fill out and already shows a solid four pitch mix with ability to manipulate the baseball from a long loose ¾ arm slot. Szyska pounds the zone with four pitches led by a running 79-81 mph fastball that touches 82 mph; a curveball that lands for strikes with above average feel and spin; a slider that separates itself from the curveball with more of a short lateral action and even better spin than the curveball; and a big fading changeup with deceptive arm action. 

+ One of the top uncommitted prospects in attendance was RHP Keegan Waters (Morris, 2024). Currently ranked No. 66 in the state, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-hander showed off a big arm, sitting right in the 86-88 mph range throughout his ‘pen with two different fastballs; the first being a four seam that played generally straight, while the second was a sinker with heavy downward action and dive. He went to a short, gyro slider at 75-79 mph and a changeup at 80-81 mph to fill out his mix, developing the command of the pitches as of now but still flashing as above-average offerings.   

+ RHP Ryan Sobun (Joliet West, 2025) was another right-hander that showed off a big arm on the day. Listed at an athletic 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Sobun displayed what appeared to be a tough look for would-be hitters, hiding the ball well on the back side before firing into a low ¾ release. He sat right in the 83-85 mph range with life to the arm-side (14.9” avg. HM; 17.7” max HM). His curveball showed some upside, occasionally getting under it but flashing depth off an 11/5 plane, 67-69 mph. His changeup also looked to have potential to be an above-average pitch for him, playing with sink and fade to the arm-side (16.2” avg. HM; 17.8” max HM), 76-78 mph. 

+ RHP Ryan Exline (Tinley Park, 2024) popped as a junior name to know at Joliet. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander moves well for his size down the mound into a quick high ¾ release. He sat right at 84-86 mph, topping out at 87 mph with some finish through the zone and slight running action. His curveball looks to be a potential out-pitch for the right-hander, spinning over 2,600 at times and playing with sharp, downer 11/5 shape, 70-74 mph. His changeup also showed some potential as well, playing with heavy run (14.8” avg. HM; T17” HM), 74-78 mph. His final offering was a knuckleball at 59-62 mph, killing spin and playing with unpredictable action. 

+ RHP John Balla (Hersey, 2024) boasted some of the best spin on the entire day, routinely sitting in the 2,600-2,700 RPM range with his curveball, playing with downer 11/5 shape at 66-67 mph. His fastball plays up due to his high-level curveball spin, but it's already a quality offering on its own; sitting comfortably in the 82-84 mph range. His final offering was a straight change at 77-78 mph. 

+ A freshman to keep tabs on moving forward is RHP Carter Mosher (St. Laurence, 2026). Listed at an uber-projectable 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, Mosher worked his fastball up to 80 mph and paired with a 70-72 mph curveball and heavy running changeup, 72-76 mph. 

+ RHP John Meier (Glenbrook South, 2024) showed off one of the stronger arms in attendance on the mound. Listed at a physical 6-foot-4, 205-pounds. Meier worked his fastball in the 83-85 mph range, playing with some ride and finish through the zone. He also showed developing feel for both a changeup and a curveball. 

+ An uncommitted senior to know is RHP Jack Zlogar (Providence Catholic, 2023). The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander still has plenty of room to fill out in his frame. Zlogar showed well above average feel for three pitches and flashed a plus spinning breaking ball at times, pairing off a fastball that sits in the 83-84 mph range (+2,300 RPM) and heavy running changeup at 75-78 mph. 

+ A couple of 2025 right-handed arms to keep an eye on are Pablo Herrera (Plainfield South) and Merek Klicker (Morris). 

CLICK HERE for a deeper look at the Joliet Preseason ID.

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