PBR Draft 100: Deeper look inside Illinois



By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Recently our National Supervisor, Nathan Rode, released our PBR Draft 100. The PBR Draft 100 ranks the top high school prospects eligible for the 2016 MLB draft, including players outside of Prep Baseball Report’s coverage area of 27 states. This list has been compiled following many months of seeing games and a multitude of conversations with pro scouts and college recruiters.

Illinois found themselves with five players on the list. Last week we took a look at the No. 1 prospect in Illinois who is also the top catcher on the PBR Draft 100 Cooper Johnson (Carmel Catholic). Today we take a look at the other four prospects from Illinois that are littered throughout the list. RHP Drake Fellows (Joliet Catholic), SS Tyler Fitzgerald (Rochester), RHP/1B Cal Coughlin (Lake Forest) and Ben Brecht (New Trier) round out the five players from the Land of Lincoln on the PBR Draft 100.

Drake FellowsRHP Drake Fellows is No. 55 on the PBR Draft 100 list and the No. 2 ranked 2016 in Illinois. Fellows is the top arm in Illinois’ 2016 class and has been since his sophomore year. He is a 6-foot-5 righty that consistently sits around 90 mph with his fastball and has been up to 93 mph. This past March Fellows shined on a typical cold spring day in the Midwest. His outing was anything but typical however as he continued to solidify himself as a high level national prospect.

Scouting Report from his start on (3.20.15) - Vanderbilt recruit. 6-foot-5, 200-pound wide, shouldered, athletic, right-handed pitcher looks to be filling out frame, specifically in noticeable stronger legs. Elite national prospect, ranked No. 2 in Illinois’ 2016 class, No. 11 overall. Sat 91-93 mph in first inning of relief, settled in to 90-92 mph range, holding velocity all four innings, low of 89 mph. Extremely impressive in mid-40’s March weather coming out of basketball season. Usually works between a ¾ and high ¾ slot, but today looked a bit higher, in the high ¾ range, which added to two-plane sink on fastball, and vertical plane on breaking ball. Slider is a plus pitch at 80-81 mph. With arm slot a tick higher, slider exhibited more depth than in the past, occasionally flashing a curveball look with 11/5 shape. Ground ball machine with fastball/slider. Mechanically, in windup takes eyes off home plate, lower half swing, loads over the rubber with front toe pointing towards second base, rotational lower half, but does not match it by getting rotational with shoulders. Strike throwing machine, so delivery adds to deception, does not affect command, lands in line with home plate, square at foot strike. Only one three ball count in four innings of work, four strike outs, efficient inducing weak contact early in the count, seven ground ball outs to one fly out.

Fellows has been a must see for pro scouts and that will continue heading into this springs high school season. Below is a glimpse at Fellows pitching at last winter’s Super 60. He was one of the few 2016 graduates to participate and was still in the middle of his high school basketball season at the time.

Video of Fellows at the Super 60


ImmediatTyler Fitzgeraldely following Drake Fellows on the PBR Draft 100 list is SS Tyler Fitzgerald (Rochester) committed to Louisville. No. 56 on the list he is the top shortstop in Illinois and one of the most dynamic shortstops on the list. 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-handed hitter has been on the PBR radar since he was an eighth grader when he impressed in all facets of the game.

Scouting Report as an 8th grader (3/11/12) - Fitzgerald is an athletic 5-foot-11, 150-pound infielder who impressed in all facets of the game.  He showed advanced feel for the game, and looks to be a high-level athlete. Defensively, he moved with rhythm and fluidity, taking concise routs to the ball; he also exhibited soft hands and fluid footwork, playing through the baseball well.  He exhibited good range up the middle in addition to a solid back hand.  Fitzgerald, who looks to be the future of Rochester HS, was clocked at 72 mph from across the diamond with accurate throws that showed carry. Fitzgerald’s athleticism shined in the 60, when he ran an event-best a 7.34.  At the plate, Fitzgerald has a balanced setup with a smooth load.  He has an advanced approach at the plate and excellent barrel whip through the zone.  He takes an economical approach to the baseball and has loose, quick hands.

Fitzgerald has delivered on the promise he showed at such a young age. To go along with his elite skillset, impressive frame, he plays the game with a sense of ease incomparable to his peers. Fitzgerald catapulted to the No. 1 spot in Illinois, and No. 8 overall, after his impressive showing at the 2016 Top Prospect Games in July heading into his Sophomore year, when he earned top prospect honors among an extremely talented field. His performance that July landed Fitzgerald a late invitation to the Midwest Future Games in August. He was one of the few 2016 graduates to participate in the event and parlayed it into a commitment to Louisville a couple of months following.

Video of Fitzgerald at the Midwest Future Games


The fourth IllinCal Coughlinois player to find their name on the list is RHP/1B Cal Coughlin (Lake Forest). Physically built Coughlin who is committed to Texas Christian has been a staple in the Top 10 in Illinois since his freshman year. Coughlin is a legitimate two-way prospect at the next level but his performance on the mound this summer and fall have created significant buzz about his future on the mound. His velocity on the mound keeps soaring and culminated this fall in Jupiter, Florida.  

Scouting Report from Jupiter, FL (10/25/15) - The physically mature 6-foot-1, 200-pound Texas Christian recruit proved himself to be one of the top pitching prospects in the Midwest. Coughlin impressed in his outing, topping at 94, sitting 90-92 for his three-inning stint in which he allowed one hit, no runs, two strikeouts and one walk. Working from a high-3/4 slot, Coughlin showed a harder breaking ball in the upper-70s and mixed in a changeup at times. What he didn’t throw, which he has in the past, was his 82-85 mph cutter/slider.

Seeing Coughlin sit in the upper 80’s and touch a 90 or 91 now and then was something we had become used to here at Prep Baseball Report. Sitting 90-92 mph and touching a 94 is a completely different story however. He has firmly put himself on the national stage and scouts will be flocking to see him throw this spring. Here’s pitching video of Coughlin at the PBR Midwest ProCase in late June.

Video of Coughlin from PBR Midwest ProCase


Last bBen Brechtut certainly not least on the list is LHP Ben Brecht (New Trier). The imposing 6-foot-8, 205-pound lefty is committed to UC-Santa Barbara. Even before Brecht’s velocity skyrocketed, he was extremely intriguing due to his frame and arm action. As a sophomore Brecht was touted as the top left-handed pitcher in Illinois’ 2016 class after seeing a start late in his high school season get the start against Evanston. He sat in the mid 80’s at the time, touching 87 mph and showed plenty to like.

Scouting Report from New Trier vs. Evanston 6/7/14 - Easily the top left handed pitcher in Illinois’ 2016 class. High level prospect with extremely high ceiling. Long thin frame, 6-foot-7, 195-pound left handed pitcher, long limbs with good athleticism, highly projectable body. Came into game out of the pen, worked 1.2 innings striking out the side in the first on 15 straight fastballs. Delivery is clean and athletic, repeats well for size, closed toe landing, controls limbs well, easy fluid actions. Arm action is loose, works cleanly, high ¾ slot, easy arm action, creates whip. Fastball has finish through the zone, 83-85 mph, touched 87 mph, fastball showed arm side action, showed feel for the zone. Curveball showed sweeping action, 11/5 tilt, shows feel, decelerated arm action, 63-65 mph, can be firmed up. Brecht’s upside is about as good as it gets, his arm works cleanly and easily out of a 6-foot-7 frame and his fastball projects as a plus pitch. Brecht is a high follow in the Class of 2016 and could be one of the top left handed arms in the Midwest.

It was only a matter of time before Brecht’s velocity jumped to propel himself onto the national stage. This past summer no player at the PBR Midwest ProCase raised his draft stock more than Brecht. Long, loose and easy, Brecht pumped consistent strikes with his 89-90 mph fastball. The ball comes out of his hand with such ease that it looks like he was playing a game of catch. 6-foot-8 left-handed pitchers with his arm action don’t come along very often and he could very well be the first Illinois prospect plucked in next June’s draft.

Video of Brecht from PBR Midwest ProCase



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