Prep Baseball Report

Preseason All-State, Underclass: Preview

By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the PBR Illinois staff will host the Preseason All-State: Underclass event at The MAX in McCook, IL. This is an invitation-only event that features the top freshman and sophomores (2024 and 2025 grads) across the state. This event is limited and exclusive to the top prospects in Illinois and serves as a springboard as we prepare to enter the high school season.

To see which prospects are scheduled to attend, click here.


Historically, this is Illinois’ largest and most talented showcase on our calendar. Last year was the first year in which we split our Preseason All-State event into two, separated by an upperclass and an underclass roster that perform at the event on the same day, back to back. This allowed us to expand on the classes we see at this staple showcase, which now includes freshmen, which would be this year’s Class of 2026.

The 2022 Underclass roster is one will we’ll look back on fondly, as it featured the current No. 1-ranked junior in the state, RHP Ryan Sloan (York, 2024; Wake Forest commit).

This showcase is also critical for our staff to gather intel on the Team Illinois roster we’ll construct at the end-of-summer PBR Future Games. At last year’s Preseason All-State: Underclass event, 11 players from this roster went on to appear at the Future Games in Georgia while representing our state: SS Kenny Perez (De La Salle, 2024; Cincinnati), RHP/INF Nate Harris (Yorkville, 2024; Northwestern), RHP Luke Weber (Highland Park, 2024; Illinois), RHP Malachi Paplanus (Huntley, 2024; Wright State), OF Samuel Chapman (Woodstock, 2024; Southern Illinois-Edwardsville), OF Khamaree Thomas (Kenwood Academy, 2024; Michigan State), MIF Jackson Natanek (Brother Rice, 2025), INF David Cox (Nazareth Academy, 2024; Northwestern), LHP Ethan Eberle (Normal Community, 2024), RHP Tom Ford (Lisle, 2024), C Enzo Infelise (Providence Catholic, 2025), and RHP/3B Wyatt Mammen (Lincoln Community, 2024) – and Mammen happens to be the top-ranked uncommitted junior in Illinois, as it stands.

Wyatt Mammen (2/5/23)

Already, 21 members of last year’s Underclass roster (classes 2024 and 2025) are committed, including the aforementioned above who went on to participate in the 2022 Future Games, but also the select few that committed prior to that event, like CIF Cash Campbell (Montini Catholic, 2024; Iowa). Campbell is one of the top offensive threats inside of the state’s junior class, ranked No. 13 overall at present. SS Tyler Bell (Lincoln-Way East, 2024; Pitt) is another member of last year’s roster who was not committed headed into the event, but is now. Bell vaulted himself into of the best juniors in Illinois throughout 2022, now ranked No. 4 overall in the state, and his momentum really started at 2022’s Preseason All-State event.

C Sir Jamison Jones (St. Rita, 2024; Illinois State) has continued to blossom into one of Illinois’ best prospects, and he was also a big winner at last year’s Preseason All-State, as were sophomores LHP Joe Olson (St. Laurence, 2025; Louisville), 3B/RHP Jack Wheeler (Morris, 2025; Illinois), LHP/1B Conor Essenburg (Lincoln-Way West, 2025; Kansas State), RHP/3B Cody Freitas (Bradley-Bourbonnais, 2025; Illinois State), and OF Henry Murray (Lane Tech, 2025; Boston College). Each of these 2025s currently reside on the state’s sophomore rankings.


Saturday’s Preseason All-State: Underclass roster is headlined by 10 committed players who also happen to be at the top of their class on our board, headed into the event. Representing the 2025s are aforementioned sophomores Joe Olson, Conor Essenburg, and Jack Wheeler, and they’ll be joined by the No. 1 overall player in the state’s class: LHP Jack Bauer (Lincoln-Way East; Virginia). Bauer simply exploded onto the radar last year, and he eventually earned an invitation to the PBR Future Games a year ahead of schedule, and he also took part in our inaugural Illinois State Games in early August. Now ranked inside the national top-40 overall, Bauer has since proved himself to be one of the best left-handers in the country.

Jack Bauer (7/27/22)

Another committed prospect from the state’s 2025 class headed to The MAX on Saturday is C/RHP Blaine Williams (Tremont; Illinois). He’s a muscular two-way player with huge arm strength that plays very well from behind the plate, and it works seamlessly on the mound, too, where he’s been up to 87 mph for us.

Four of the five ranked Class of 2026 prospects will be in attendance this weekend as well, including No. 1-ranked RHP Callaghan O’Connor (Bishop McNamara, 2026; Notre Dame). O’Connor has thrived already in front of us while competing with Team Illinois’ Junior Future Games squads both in 2021 and 2022. His stand-out 6-foot-6 frame has produced big velocity already, and he’s ranked No. 16 overall in the nation’s first edition of the 2026 rankings.

SS/RHP Ethan Bass (Glenbrook North, 2026; Illinois) is another nationally ranked freshman in the state headed to The MAX. He starred both in showcase settings and during the summer and fall through the tournament circuit, propelling him to gain a ton of momentum as one of the Midwest’s best prospects. He’s a high-level athlete in a 6-foot-1 frame with some right-handed juice for his age and looks the part of a middle infielder – and he also wields one of the most metrically interesting fastballs among his 2026 peers.

Both freshmen at Mount Carmel, 3B T.J. McQuillan (Louisville) and SS Joey Ireland (Illinois) were also a part of last summer’s PBR Junior Future Games. McQuillan committed to Louisville shortly after the event, and Ireland committed at the start of this year. McQuillan has premium left-handed bat strength, having recorded a 99.7 mph max EV back in August, which is rare air for a player as young as him. Ireland is a 6-foot athlete with a projectable right-handed swing who has also shown our staff elite infield defense, and this early on in his prep career.


Enzo Infelise C / 3B / Providence Catholic, IL / 2025

From the Illinois State Games, 8/10/22: "... showed well as one of the younger prospects at this year’s Future Games and continued to back it up at the State Games. Infelise has a strong frame and his right-handed bat fits the mold of a middle-of-the-order bat moving forward. He is rarely off balance and off the barrel as he covers the whole plate and can drive the ball with authority to all fields. Defensively, he is developing behind the plate but has the tools to stick back there including a big arm that plays with life when it syncs up. High-follow 2025 in the state."

Jackson Natanek SS / 2B / Brother Rice, IL / 2025

From the Illinois 2025 Rankings Update, 9/31/22: "... stays put just at No. 11 in the state after joining Team Illinois at the PBR Future Games, joining Infelise, as the only two 2025 position players on the roster. Natanek continues to profile as one of the top middle infielders in the state with a strong overall feel for the game, plenty of arm strength for shortstop and a repeatable, line-drive stroke at the plate with competitiveness and a mature approach."

Derrick Holmes SS / Brother Rice, IL / 2025

From White Sox ACE Scout Day, 9/17/22: "... continues to cement himself as one of the top 2025 infielders we have seen to date in the state. Holmes has elite athletic actions on the infield and he makes everything look easy while playing comfortably on the move with body control. His clean, quick footwork and soft hands should keep him up the middle of the diamond for years to come. He throws from multiple arm slots with some life and carries through the target. Offensively he took a very polished round of batting practice with a direct path, balanced finish and littered the middle of the field with line drives. High-follow uncommitted prospect in the 2025 class."

AJ Putty 3B / RHP / Huntley, IL / 2025

From the McHenry Preseason ID, 2/11/23: "... continues to trend in the right direction and has a chance to be an impact right-handed bat at the next level. Putty’s 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame looks as strong and athletic as ever, and he led the event with the best average exit velocity at 93.1 mph and the top average bat speed at 79.9 mph. Putty stayed on balance, in rhythm and on the barrel throughout his round showing a feel to hit to go along with some of the better power potential in the class. On the infield, Putty moves well for his size with smooth actions and soft/steady hands, playing with a clean transfer and clean high ¾ slot (T83 mph INF). On the mound, Putty showed obvious arm-strength, reaching up to 87.5 mph with his fastball and never dipping below 86 mph. He flashed some sharp 10/4 action with his slider at times, 68-70 mph. His changeup sat 72-75 mph and was thrown with fastball intent, fading some to his arm-side."

Luke Yolich SS / Whitney Young, IL / 2025

From the Chicago Preseason ID, 2/18/23: "... was another standout infielder from Saturday’s event. Listed at 5-foot-8, 160-pounds with round shoulders, Yolich looks to have added on some good weight since our last look at him over the summer. Currently the No. 20 ranked player in Illinois’ 2025 class, Yolich initially stood out to our scouting staff this past spring/summer with his impressive ability to handle velocity and control the barrel throughout his at-bats. His BP round showed even further his maturity at the plate, working line-drives that favored the middle and opposite fields. His swing is simple and fluid, creating whip through the zone and taking pitches where they are thrown. His defensive round was also above-average; demonstrating a clear feel for the position with fluid footwork through the ball, soft hands and a quick/clean transfer. He moves well laterally with a quick first step, allowing him to cover ground to both sides of his glove easily. As a proven in-game performer, Yolich is a polished right-handed bat to know in the 2025 class."


Joey Arend OF / St. Charles East, IL / 2025

From Preseason All-State, 2/26/22: "Among the day’s biggest winners inside the freshman class was [Arend], who made his PBR event debut here. Arend has a very interesting 5-foot-11, 153-pound frame with loose levers and athleticism that complements his swing. He has an easy, loose swing that stays through the zone a long time and he peppered hard contact to all fields; easy overall swing with all kinds of upside as he adds strength to his stature. Arend ran a 7.20 in the 60 and looked like a potential leadoff-type at the next level. He is also a confident, aggressive outfielder, with athletic actions and strong arm that topped at 84 mph to home. Consider him a left/left 2025 to follow moving forward."

Nathan O'Donnell 3B / RHP / Providence Catholic, IL / 2025

From the Lockport Preseason ID, 2/21/22: "... flashed two-way intrigue to our scouts at Monday’s event. Offensively, O’Donnell showed quick hands with a short and level path to contact, staying on the barrel to all fields while covering the plate. On the mound, O’Donnell’s 83.2 mph max fastball velocity was the highest among freshmen at the event. It’s an efficient, true four-seamer that projects well as he continues to develop and add strength, and it doesn’t take him much effort to reach the low-80s, either. Defensively O’Donnell showcased an advanced feel for the infield. He has a loose arm and smooth actions. His top velocity on the infield was 83 mph which comes from a short, quick arm action and releases from a high ¾ arm slot. He has fluid footwork and clean hands that allowed him to stand out in the infield."

John McAuliffe C / OF / Marist, IL / 2025

From the Illinois State Games, 8/10/22: "... was amongst the weekend’s top offensive performers. The left-handed hitting backstop routinely found the barrel, finishing the tournament 5-for-8 with three loud doubles. At 6-foot, 175-pounds, McAuliffe showed arm strength behind the plate with on-the-bag accuracy, popping at 2.01-to-2.04 during his workout."

Ryan Schaffnit RHP / Morton, IL / 2025

From the Illinois 2025 Rankings Update, 9/31/22: "... listed at 6-foot-5, 195-pounds, saw his velocity tick up this summer and is turning into one of the top follows out of Central Illinois. He was up to 85 mph during a mid-summer trip to LakePoint with the makings of a reliable three-pitch mix."

Brady Green SS / Oak Park-River Forest, IL / 2025

From the Illinois State Games, 8/10/22: "... emerged as a name-to-know in the Illinois’ 2025 class after an impressive showing, particularly defensively. Green made several strong plays on the infield, including a backhand in the six-hole that he finished with a strong, accurate throw across the diamond. His athleticism and actions suggest he’ll stick up the middle long term, where Green can be an asset with the glove. Offensively, he swings a loose right-handed bat with rotation and athleticism that flashed upside throughout the event."

Ryne Dzierzynski SS / 2B / Grant, IL / 2025

From the South Milwaukee Preseason ID, 3/6/22: "From the first ground ball, he showed advanced footwork and tempo. The coordination and timing throughout his defensive operation was that of a high end defender. He received the ball with a soft, quick quality in his glove, and transitioned with a poised urgency. The ball came out from a smooth ¾ action with true feel for carry across the diamond. In the box, he worked direct to the ball while covering from above and staying through the middle of the field with swing and approach alike. Notably, Dzierzynski has a great feel for his hands and barrel release. Fresh off an impressive showing at PBR Illinois’ Preseason All-State event, Dzierznyski further solidified his status as a high-follow freshman from just south of the border. It’s worth mentioning that his ‘pen was also impressive, utilizing an athletic, clean arm action that resulted in a projectable fastball that pairs well with his deceptive changeup and a cutter that featured downer bite."

Jimmy Downs 3B / Kenwood, IL / 2025

From White Sox ACE Scout Day, 9/17/22: "... continues to show off an advanced right-handed bat with big power potential. Downs put on a show in BP, which was one of the best of the day, using the entire field while showing off consistent, hard, lifted contact. It’s a loud, heavy barrel with loose, strong hands and jump off the bat. Downs registered the hardest hit ball of the day at 100.4 mph off the bat and his furthest batted ball traveled 374 feet. Defensively the corner infielder has clean footwork, steady hands and a strong accurate arm. His top velocity across the infield was 83 mph."

This is really just scraping the surface of a terrific group of 2025 talent headed our way on Saturday, so stay tuned on Twitter at @PBRIllinois and follow as the day goes.


Paddy Roth RHP / OF / St. Patrick, IL / 2026

6-foot-2, 185-pound, two-way prospect with upside on the mound and at the plate. On the mound, his arm work clean and over-the-top while running his fastball into the low-80's. At the plate, Roth creates advanced leverage and jump off the barrel from the right-side of the plate. Upside 2026 to follow moving forward.

Addison Latko C / OF / DePaul College Prep, IL / 2026

From the PBR at The Rock 14U Summer Championships, 6/10/22: "Latko started behind the plate for Top Tier and there he truly shows catcher instincts that are well above his age, with the ability to back pick as he did it multiple times. Not only did Latko impress behind the plate, while he was in the right-handed batters box he also showed bat-to-ball skills, as he tallied a single and one RBI."

Max Heineman C / 3B / Normal University , IL / 2026

From the PBR at The Rock 14U Summer Championships, 6/10/22: "Strong, well-proportioned 5-foot-8, 150-pound frame with athleticism throughout. Started behind the plate and hit cleanup on Thursday. Plenty of confidence and rhythm in the box, balanced lower half, creates hand separation at load, short stride. Loose athletic hands, level path to contact with some leverage out front, stays through the baseball. Took several quality hacks before backspinning a barrel to left field for a single in his third at-bat. Adept defender behind the plate, vocal. Steady hands, works down-to-up from a one knee stance. Loose arm that played accurate to the bag in between innings. Emerging as a name-to-know in the state’s incoming freshman class."

Gavin Swartz RHP / Normal University, IL / 2026

From the PBR Junior Future Games, 7/28/22: "Swartz got the nod for Team Illinois and was impressive throughout his start, working his fastball in the 78-81 mph range with a loose and quick arm action. To pair off his fastball, Swartz went to a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 65-66 mph and a changeup at 73-74 mph."

Jory Crocker SS / RHP / Willowbrook, IL / 2026

Crocker is a lanky, long-levered athlete, listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds who impressed our staff in a dominant outing from the mound during a start at The Rock Complex last summer at a PBR Tournament. There, he held 76-78 mph throughout and pumped nothing but strikes, and with a projectable breaking ball too, and it led to 12 punch-outs in a near-perfect start. Crocker is also an intriguing position player too, one we're eager to see more of the near future.

Patrick Connors OF / 2B / Hinsdale Central , IL / 2026

From the Illinois State Games, 8/10/22: "Fresh off a trip to LakePoint as a member of Team Illinois at the Junior Future Games, Connors more than comfortably fit in amongst an older crowd at this event. Connors continued to show his knack for contact and advanced bat-to-ball skills, collecting a handful of hits while on the barrel throughout his three games. A 7.05 runner with an upside 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame, Connors continues to prove he’s a name to know in the Illinois’ 2026 class."

Lucas Simulick SS / RHP / Joliet Catholic, IL / 2026

From the PBR Junior Future Games, 7/28/22: "Simulick got the nod on the mound for Illinois and boasted a fastball up to 81 mph, sitting mostly 79-80 mph. To pair off his fastball, Simulick went to a sharp, downer breaking ball at 65-68 mph, pairing off his fastball effectively with feel down in the zone. Simulick not only impressed on the mound, but also at shortstop throughout the week, where his skills play well above his age; moving athletically to both sides of his glove with soft hands and athletic actions, also translating his strong arm to the diamond."

Oliver Thulin SS / RHP / Downers Grove North, IL / 2026

From the PBR Junior Future Games, 7/28/22: "... came out of the ‘pen for Illinois and quickly took control of the game. The athletic right-hander showed off a big arm, reaching back for 84 mph on his best bullet, sitting mostly in the 82-83 range. He went to a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 73-74 mph to pair off his fastball, missing bats routinely throughout his three innings of work."

Colton Benaitis C / 3B / Lockport township, IL / 2026

From the PBR Junior Future Games, 7/28/22: "Team Illinois 1 was dealt a 5-0 loss in game three to Team Alabama, which was shortened by rain. Benaitis started the game on the mound and pounded the strike zone with fastballs and curveballs. However, Benaitis’ strengths are when a bat is in his hands. As a hitter he is a high-follow, Benaitis consistently barreled baseballs all week long, coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit. It doesn’t matter if the pitcher is throwing 85 or 65 mph, Benaitis’ timing and barrel awareness shows up in every at bat. He has a short quick, repeatable swing, he uses all fields and has a keen ability to make in at-bat adjustments."

Again, we’re only just beginning to capture this Class of 2026 as a whole, and this event will go a long way toward our effort in doing so. Follow us on Twitter at @PBRIllinois to see the biggest takeaways of the day, and we’ll have plenty of post-event highlights on the site next week.


+ Check-in Times:

  • All Position Players: 8:30 a.m.

  • Pitchers-only: 12:00 p.m.

  • Catchers will stay for both sessions.


Click here to learn more about our tech partners that have enhanced our players showcase experience. Partners like TrackMan, Vizual Edge, Blast Motion, and Swift Performance have helped both our in-event evaluation process, as well the compilation of our post-event scouting reports – and they're also a tool for our players to learn more about their measured and collected data, that can be applied to improve upon their game. Finally, wear baseball clothes; assigned and numbered PBR jerseys will be provided.