PBR Fall Championship: Illinois Upperclass Takeaways


By Illinois Scouting Staff

Each year, PBR Tournaments’ Midwest Fall Championships kicks off the fall season with a one-stop shop recruiting buffet at the pristine confines that is Grand Park outside of Indianapolis. The event, which features teams from the Midwest across each of the four high school classes, overlaps with the prestigious Puma Classic, a junior college tournament that brings in recruiters from all across the country. This year, more than 200 college coaches and professional scouts were in attendance in hopes of finding future impact players and prospects.

A number of the top prospects in Illinois, spanning all HS grad classes (2022s-2025s), were in attendance throughout the weekend, with a number of them standing out with their performance.

Today, we’re sharing with you our notes on some of the top Illinois upperclassmen that we saw at this event. Our state was well-represented at the Midwest Fall Championships, so it was difficult to capture it all, but the PBR Illinois scouting staff, as well as national crosschecker Shooter Hunt, took in as many games, teams, and players as we could. We published our findings below.

UPPERCLASS TAKEAWAYS

2022 PROSPECTS (listed alphabetically)

+ Brandon Bak, LHP/OF, Plainfield North, 2022
UIC commit. 6-foot-1, 165-pound, athletically built, two-way prospect. Top-of-the-order left-handed hitter who is also one of the better left-handed arms in the class. Put together one of the more impressive starts of the PBR Fall Championships for Elite Baseball Training. Was facing one of the better lineups on paper and struck out 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. Pounded the zone with his entire repertoire. Commanded the fastball to both sides of the plate (83-84 mph) and landed his low-70’s 12/6 curveball in any count. Poised and confident on the mound, missed barrels throughout. One of the top two-way prospects in the state continues to perform at a high level in game. 


+ Peyton Barr, LHP, Huntley, 2022
Uncommitted. Barr toed the rubber for GRB Rays - Illinois in their semi-final playoff game on Sunday afternoon and propelled his squad into the championship game with a dominant performance against a quality opposing lineup. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound southpaw went the distance, striking out 11 batters largely in part to an effective three-pitch mix. His fastball lived in the low-80s, touching 84 mph and he challenged hitters with it, working both corners of the zone and also elevating eye levels when he needed to. Barr consistently threw both off his secondary pitches, a sweeping slider and fading changeup thrown at arm speed, and kept his opponents off balance throughout. It was an impressive, highly competitive outing from the uncommitted left-hander.


Hayden Christiansen, C, Richmond-Burton, 2022
The Xavier recruit has consistently impressed our PBR Illinois and Wisconsin staffs, especially this summer, connecting for loud, far contact repeatedly and against velocity. Christiansen uses both gaps effectively, and he’s strong enough to juice gap-to-gap contact over the fence with enough frequency to profile inside the middle of a lineup long-term. This past weekend in Grand Park, we got to see that version of Christiansen yet again, as he launched a ground-rule double on the inner half that he didn’t totally square up, but still drove with authority.


+ Sean Episcope, RHP, Latin School of Chicago, 2022
Uncommitted. 6-foot, 195-pound, well-proportioned, right-hander recently rose in the updated Illinois' 2022 rankings. With that being said, his performance on the opening night of the event for Elite Baseball Training has him trending even higher, as he looks to be one of the top uncommitted arms still available in the state. Episcope came out of the bullpen and showed off a true three-pitch mix, threw a high-volume of strikes with a competitive, determined demeanor on the mound. His fastball sat comfortably at 89-90 mph, touching 91 with late hop at the top of the zone getting a number of swing and misses. He also flashed a swing-and-miss sharp breaking ball that plays with late, sharp, downer action at 74 mph with 2617 rpm. He also has confidence in his changeup which plays with arm speed and fade action. High-follow uncommitted 2022. 


+ Patrick Graham, MIF, Naperville North, 2022
Uncommitted, 5-foot-11, 175-pound, right-handed hitting middle infielder, currently ranked No. 45 in Illinois. Athletic middle infielder defender who has shown above-average tools in the past (6.76 60, 91 mph infield). Was playing second base in our looks at Elite Baseball Training but it was his bat that stood out the most. Graham showed a knack for hard contact and extra base hits against quality arms in a Saturday midday matchup. Graham got the barrel out and hammered a double into left-center field and then followed it up with a home run over the left-field fence. Highly-intriguing look at one of the top athletes still on the board in Illinois.


+ Victor Izquierdo, 1B, Lockport, 2022
At 6-foot-2 210-pounds, Izqueirdo is one of the most intimidating bats in the state. Compact/repeatable swing with effortless power, Izquierdo rocketed balls all over the yard with impressive exit velocity, including just missing a homerun to deep left-centerfield. The Navy commit also possesses impressive athleticism for his size/positional profile; he was hand timed going first to third in 12.45 seconds with long athletic strides. Around the bag, Izquierdo shows smooth glovework and soft hands with the ability to handle throws in the dirt with ease. Izquierdo has been climbing our rankings since last spring, and he continues to improve rapidly each time we see him.


+ Ryan Kelly, C/1B, Huntley, 2022
Uncommitted, 6-foot, 195-pound, strong, right-handed hitter, currently ranked No. 102 in Illinois. Kelly seems to make hard contact every time we see him and this weekend was no different. In a limited look at GRB Rays - Illinois, Kelly backspun a double into the left-center field gap that cut through the wind. Kelly stays short, direct and flat through the zone with a knack for the barrel. Follow 2022 uncommitted right-handed bat. 


+ Chase Krueger, RHP, Glenbard West, 2022
Uncommitted, 6-foot, 185-pound, broad-shouldered, athletically-built, right-handed pitcher. Came out of the bullpen for Elite Baseball Training. Stretch-only delivery, stays closed and on-line down the mound working with minimal effort throughout. Arm works compact and loose out of a low-¾ slot. Gets above-average run and sink to his fastball which played at the bottom of the zone, sitting 84-86 mph (has been up to 89 mph in the past). Flashed a slurvy breaking ball which matches his arm slot at 74 mph. 


+ Zack Labrec, RHP, Cary-Grove, 2022
UIS commit. The 6-foot, 175-pound, right-handed pitcher started on the mound for Top Tier Americans on opening night and was one of the biggest surprises of the event. Flashed dynamic stuff, especially early on in the outing. Arm plays long and quick from an over-the-top slot. Creates steep angle to his fastball at times, which also flashes late cut, sitting comfortably at 87-88 mph. Breaking ball is a separator spinning at 2900+ rpm, sitting in the mid-70’s with late bite and horizontal action. As he continues to polish up his arsenal, Labrec should continue to see his stock rise in the class. 

+ Colin Lewandowski, UTIL, Naperville Central, 2022
Uncommitted, 6-foot, 195-pound, compact athlete with the ability to bounce around to a number of positions on the field. Was one of the top newcomers in the recently updated Illinois’ 2022 rankings, coming in at No. 42. 6.62 runner in the 60 whose speed and athleticism play on the field. Played some in the outfield and at third base for Elite Baseball Training in our looks this past weekend. Offensively, middle of the order type of bat strength and extra-base hit potential. Strong hands, stays compact and works naturally uphill. Ball comes off the bat, gap-to-gap approach and aggressive on the bases. Follow 2022 athlete.


+ Lorenzo Rios, C/UTIL, Yorkville, 2022
Presbyterian commit. 6-foot-1, 195-pound, strong, left-handed hitting multi-positional prospect; continues to add quality strength to his frame. Bat speed and bat strength continue to tick up. Took a number of intentful/aggressive swings throughout the weekend. Bat stays short and flat through the zone. Was consistently on time and has the ability to backspin the baseball to the pull-side.


+ Shai Robinson, SS, Homewood-Flossmoor, 2022
Robinson’s defensive prowess has long been talked about internally at PBR as he is easily one of the top defenders in the midwest, but it was his bat that did the talking for the Reds Scout Team in a double header look at the squad. Wiry-athletic at 6-foot, 175-pounds, the right-handed hitting Illinois State recruit opened some eyes with a home run and ground rule against some impressive arms. Twitchy with quick hands that load with a late coil, there is some present bat speed with sneaky power to the pull side. Looking the part defensively, Robinson’s fluid actions and confident/soft hands easily looked the part on the left side of the diamond.


+ Julius Sanchez, RHP, La Salle Peru, 2022
Committed to Illinois, Sanchez worked out of the ‘pen for Cangelosi Sparks in the semi-final game and the 6-foot, 205-pound right-hander came out with an explosive showing during his two innings of work. His second bullet of the inning touched 94 mph and he exclusively sat at 90-92 mph throughout his outing with success at the knees. He also showed a sharp downer breaking ball thrown with conviction that profiles as a swing-and-miss pitch at the next level, spotted up below the zone. It was an impressive look at the state’s 10th ranked prospect in the 2022 class.


+ Noah Schultz, LHP, Oswego East, 2022
Schultz got the nod for Cangelosi Sparks Black in their playoff game against Rhino Baseball and dominated, twirling four scoreless innings and rarely allowing anyone to reach base. Schultz is a bit of an anomaly on the mound, standing at a long-limbed 6-foot-9, 216-pounds with impressive control of his body downhill. He pounded the zone with an 89-93 mph fastball, topping at 94 mph in his final inning of work. Schultz’s fastball works from a tight, deceptive window and comes out of a low average release height, creating an especially difficult look for hitters given his size. The “bread-and-butter” of Schultz’s arsenal is one of the nation’s best sliders; a 76-78 mph offering that regularly spins at 3,000+ RPM and naturally sweeps across the zone. Schultz turned to his changeup as his outing went on and it proved effective as he threw it with fastball arm speed, spotting it up on the arm-side of the plate and down in the zone. Committed to Vanderbilt, Schultz is amongst the top prep pitchers in the entire country for the 2022 class and will be on a large amount of draft boards this coming summer.


+ Nate Voss, C, Marist, 2022
Michigan commit. 5-foot-11, 180-pound, durable, strong, right-handed hitting catcher. Impressed with the bat throughout the weekend for Team Indiana. Calm and confident look in the box, highly-repeatable, balanced swing, easy effort and uses the whole field. Efficient path, short and direct to the ball and drives baseballs to both gaps with authority. Middle-of-the-order potential at the next level. Also, a well above-average receiver. Quiet overall actions, sure hands and arm plays easy and accurate.


2023 PROSPECTS (LISTED ALPHABETICALLY)

+ Brayden Bakes, OF, Huntley, 2023
Uncommitted, currently ranked No. 14 in the Illinois’ 2023 class. 5-foot-10, 180-pound, muscle-bound, physical, left-handed hitting outfielder. Impressed in early August at the Future Games thanks to an advanced combination of speed and power; 6.45 60 yard dash and 101.28 max exit velocity. Playing up an age group, on the Cincinnati Reds Scout Team, Bakes was hitting towards the top of the lineup and caught our attention with a number of quality at-bats. Bakes, facing a tough left/left matchup, was unfazed taking a number of aggressive swings, flashing above-average bat speed. High-follow uncommitted left-handed hitting outfielder.


+ Colin Barczi, C, Naperville Central, 2023
Barczi has arguably the most raw power in the state and that was no different this weekend at the PBR Fall Championship. Barczi’s loose/violent swing has scouts from all over keeping close tabs on him. With tremendous bat-speed, the Vanderbilt commit was no stranger to finding barrels over the weekend, including an inside-out double over the centerfielder’s on a 3-2 pitch to start a rally for Cangelosi Sparks Black 2022. From behind the plate, it is hard to find another 2023 with a stronger arm. Barczi’s arm possesses effortless velocity and true carry to the bag, paired with his quick transfer, teams were not very willing to take the chance and run on him. Also a 6.69 runner, the 6-foot-2 200-pound Barczi is athletic enough to play elsewhere on the diamond as well at the next level.


+ Zachary Kwasny, 3B, Lincoln-Way East, 2023
Built at a physically imposing 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Kwasny’s unparalleled upside in the box stands out when he steps into the batter’s box. Still capable of adding more strength to his frame, Kwasny barreled up a handful of baseballs on Sunday afternoon, including one that screamed into left field for a base hit. Working with a certain ease to him in the box, Kwasny’s uphill bat path aids him in working gap-to-gap and getting the most out of his raw power.


+ Brady Louck, LHP, Plainfield East, 2023
Listed at 5-foot-10, 160-pounds, Louck’s physical stature does not stand out on a Reds Scout Team pitching staff that is lined with wide-shouldered, 6-foot-3 fireballers, but his mound presence is MUCH bigger than his frame, and the Notre Dame recruit was excellent in a quick stint against Team Indiana. Throwing more than 80 percent strikes in two innings without giving up a run and striking out a pair, the southpaw worked mostly 86-88 with a fastball that peppered the bottom of the zone to both sides from a true ¾ slot. Long and loose out of the glove, Louck’s confidence and ability to throw strikes allow the stuff to play up as does his ability to land a low 70s breaking ball that showcases tighter spin.


+ Graham Mastros, CIF, New Trier, 2023
Another physical presence in this lineup, Mastros stands at a strong 6-foot-2, 225-pounds with plenty of raw power attached to his right-handed stroke. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order thumper at the next level, squaring two balls up that sounded different off the barrel with a wood bat, including one that went deep into the gap for a double. Mastros has long been known as one of the most potent power threats in the class and he’s still uncommitted, too.


+ Zander Mueth, RHP, Belleville East, 2023
Mueth’s silky smooth delivery and loose/whippy arm stroke are sure to have scouts salivating, and that’s only after taking into consideration that he is only now starting to add strength to one of the most projectable frames in the class at a long limbed 6-foot-5, 185-pounds. The Mississippi recruit worked effortlessly at 88-92 (1750-1880) as he struck out 11 in four innings while just starting to get ramped up for the fall. The fastball featured considerable arm side life and sank at times as the ball jumped out of a low ¾ slot with impressive posture and ease to movement down the mound. Mueth showcased a 76-79 sweeping slider (2200-2300) that was thrown for strikes for the most part, but that he got under at times. He also flashed a pair of developing changeups. In what looked like “bullpen effort”, Meuth was still electric in everything that he did, and there appeared to be much more velocity in the tank. Clearly the results were dominant, but leaving this outing my biggest takeaway was that Mueth still has considerable upside, and that the excitement of what he might ultimately develop into far exceeds the astounding arsenal that he already possesses. The wiry-athletic right-hander is currently ranked 12th overall in the 2023 class and was the best prospect at the entire event.


+ Ryan Niedzwiedz, INF, West Aurora, 2023
The left-handed hitting Niedzwiedz enjoyed a productive weekend offensively throughout the PBR Fall Championships, including on Sunday when we got an up-close look at the 6-foot, 185-pound uncommitted infielder. Hitting towards the top of Elite Baseball Training’s lineup, Niedzwiedz owns innate barrel feel from the left side and showed well, juicing two noticeably hard line drives on Sunday morning. He profiles as a potential middle-of-the-order bat at the next level that’s capable of working to all fields and could also consistently hit for gap-to-gap power should he start to elevate the baseball on a more consistent basis. Niedzwiedz also showed capable, sure-handed actions on the dirt with a strong arm across the infield that played accurately to the bag. Still uncommitted, Niedzwiedz is presently ranked inside the state’s top-50 prospects for the 2023 class.


+ Sohrab Rezaei, INF, Chicago Laboratory Schools, 2023
A standout performer from Sunday’s event, Rezaei made a handful of quality plays in the field for Top Tier Americans in their final game of the day. Rezaei’s glove profiles as an asset up the middle with the foot speed, hands, and instincts to stick there in the long run. He showed strong body control on a run through play and also helped turn an impressive double play in a crucial moment for Top Tier. Offensively, Rezaei worked a deep count in his first at-bat of the game, fouling off multiple pitches and spoiling secondaries before eventually finding his way on base. He also poked a few balls the other way, showcasing bat speed and high bat-to-ball skills with little swing-and-miss.


+ Jackson Rodgers, RHP, Father McGivney, 2023
Rodgers is a break-out prospect in the Illinois’ junior class, especially following last weekend’s performance for Gators Baseball Academy on Friday night. He debuted in the state’s 2023 update recently, but he might already be due for a major rise up the rankings after dealing mid-80s stuff from an athletic, loose arm, with projectability, listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds.


+ Matt Sauser, RHP, Normal University, 2023
Iowa commit. Currently ranked No. 9 in the Illinois’ 2023 class. Long, loose-levered right-handed pitcher, listed at 6-foot-3, 170-pounds; plenty of room for continued physical development. High floor/high ceiling arm. Advanced spin metrics across the board. Was playing for Team Indiana and playing up an age group. Arm plays loose and whippy from a high ¾ slot. Showed off confidence in his 75-77 mph slider, which is one of the best in the class. Also ran his fastball up to 88 mph (up to 90 mph in the past). High-level arm in the 2023 class.


+ TJ Schlageter, LHP, Joliet Catholic, 2023
Ranked No. 72 in Illinois' 2023 class, Schlageter impressed over the weekend with a strong outing for Cangelosi Sparks Black 2023. The left-hander has a clean/quick arm which comes out of a high ¾ slot. Schlageter’s fastball worked primarily 82-85 mph early on, before settling in at 80-83 mph later in the game with some arm-side life. He paired his fastball with a sharp 1/7 breaking ball in the 65-70 mph range and was able to land it both for strikes and to put hitters away. With these two pitches alone, Schlageter should have no trouble finding success for the Hilltoppers this coming spring.


+ Hunter Warren, UTIL, Moline, 2023
Wright State commit. Standing at a projectable 6-foot, 160-pounds, Warren has plenty of room to add on additional strength to his already athletic frame. Smooth stroke at the plate with loose/whippy hands. Finding hard contact this past weekend was not irregular. Warren shows the ability to to naturally lift the ball with backspin to his pull-side, and with even more additional strength he will be a dangerous top of the lineup bat at the next level.


+ Charlie Wolf, RHP, St. Ignatius, 2023
Uncommitted. Currently ranked No. 38 in the Illinois’ 2023 class. 6-foot-1, 170-pound, long-limbed, athletically-built right-hander was apart of Team Illinois at this summer’s PBR Future Games. Wolf, who has been up to 88 mph in the past threw for Top Tier over the weekend. Arm plays loose and quick from a high ¾ slot. Fastball comes out of the hand easy, sitting 84-86 mph with seemingly much more velocity on the way. Also flashed a sharp mid-70’s breaking ball.


+ CLICK HERE for a link to the PBR Midwest Fall Championship's tournament page. Stay tuned in the coming days for additional coverage stemming from this event, when we take a look at some of the Underclass standouts. 

RELATED CONTENT