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Preseason All-State: Underclass Quick Hits


By Illinois Scouting Staff

On Feb. 26, the PBR Illinois staff hosted the Preseason All-State: Underclass showcase at The MAX in McCook, Ill., featuring many of the state’s top players inside both the 2024 and 2025 classes. This event helped our staff gain a clearer picture of the on-the-rise underclassmen in Illinois, and we’ll begin to break down the excellent thoroughly today and throughout the week. Inside today’s Quick Hits post, we’re highlighting the best of the best – the talent that exited the event as with arrows pointed way up headed into the spring.

We’ll be breaking down the event in even greater detail over the next few days, but we’ll kick things off with this piece today covering our staff’s primary takeaways.

To view the event’s landing page, roster, and stats collected, click here. Each of the players below are uncommitted unless stated otherwise.

QUICK HITS

HIGH-CEILING 2024 PROSPECTS

+ INF Nate Harris (Yorkville, 2024) looks to have the makings to be considered one of the top Illinois Class of 2024 prospects moving forward. Harris’ advanced 6-foot-4, 200-pound, wide-shouldered, athletic frame immediately stands out as does the fact that he ran a clean and easy 6.84 laser-timed 60. On top of that, he showed a clean, physical right-handed swing with all kinds of feel and power attached to it. Harris routinely launched balls with authority into both gaps while staying within himself and on balance. Harris recorded an average exit velocity of 90.1 mph to go along with a max batted distance of 346 feet. Defensively, he has loose, athletic actions, sure hands, and a big arm that topped at 92 mph across the diamond. Harris has emerged as one of the top uncommitted position players in the class.

+ INF/RHP David Cox (Nazareth, 2024) is another impressively-built sophomore who put together a strong showing at The MAX on Saturday. Listed at a broad-chested 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, the right-handed hitter seems built for the middle of an order offensively. It’s a loose, strong swing with all kinds of barrel-whip and strength through contact. The swing stays compact and repeatable, especially for his size, and he was elevating baseballs with authority throughout his round of BP. Cox also showed off a loose arm that topped at 90 mph across the infield and also played well on the mound. Cox works across his body and flashed a projectable fastball that played at 81-84 mph with finish through the zone. He also flashed a lateral slider at 67-71 and sinking changeup at 72-74 mph.

+INF Savion Flowers (Kenwood) is a high-ceiling prospect who continues to ascend every time we get our eyes on him. Considering his long levers, he does a quality job staying short and repeatable to the baseball from the left-handed box. It's an easy, highly-repeatable swing and it was all over the barrel Saturday, driving hard contact to all fields. Flowers' bat looked like, arguably, the most polished left-handed swing in attendance. His arm has also ticked up from 82 mph to 88 since we last saw him in the fall, and he registered a max exit velocity of 97.2 mph, up from 92.4 in the fall. High-ceiling 2024 with a chance to be an impact left-handed bat at the next level.

2024 OUTFIELDERS

+ OF Khamaree Thomas is another Kenwood Academy product who, like Flowers, was responsible for one of the top BP rounds of the day. He’s built much differently than Flowers however, listed at an athletic, wiry 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, and he shows athleticism and twitch in all parts of his game. Thomas also showed a polished left-handed swing that profiles as a dynamic top-of-the-order type moving forward. Thomas sees the ball deep into the zone and stays extremely simple and efficient while showing off advanced feel for the barrel and sneaky strength through contact. Thomas sprayed backspin, hard line-drive contact to all fields throughout, doing so with minimal effort. Thomas’ 6.71 time in the 60 led the event and he also registered a max exit velocity of 93.8 mph, a mark that sticks out for his age and size in particular. On top of that, Thomas looked like a true center field-type in the outfield; roaming light on his feet with a quick first step, athletic actions and his arm topped at 85 mph.

+ Another left-handed-hitting 2024 who continues to show well: OF Samuel Chapman (Woodstock). Chapman has cut his 60-yard dash time down to a 7.14 on Saturday (7.39, previously) and he continues to show off the same prowess with the bat that we have become accustomed to. It's a whippy, loose swing and the barrel stays in the zone a long time, covering both sides of the plate. Chapman continues to show advanced outfield actions as well, with fluid footwork and a loose, quick, easy arm. The ball exploded out of the hand at times and topped at 91 mph.

+ Chris Daugherty (Brother Rice, 2024) proved to be yet another outfielder with a solid all-around skill set. Daugherty understands who he is as a hitter; top-of-the-order potential, above-average bat-to-balls skills, repeats his swing, stays within himself and put together a consistent round of BP, staying on the barrel with fluid rhythm and balance throughout. Daugherty, who is listed at 5-foot-8, 155 pounds, possesses above-average bat strength for his size. He recorded a max exit velocity of 91.1 mph while recording a sweet spot rate of 72 percent. Defensively, he moves with pace, rhythm, and clean actions and his arm topped at 88 mph from the outfield.

+ Another outfielder who put up some impressive numbers was left-handed hitter Brandon Schultz (Stevenson). Schultz ran a 6.75 60, the second-best time of the event and made hard pull-side contact at the plate, recording a peak exit velocity of 96 mph off the bat. 

2024 CATCHERS

+ Here’s a quartet of 2024 backstops who stood out over the course of the day: Ashton Seymore (Latin School of Chicago), Sir Jamison Jones (St. Rita), Randall Nauden (Brother Rice), and Kyle Hartmann (Sycamore). 

+ Seymore has improved his entire skill set since our last look, all while adding quality strength to his lower half and 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame. Seymour has a quiet, efficient right-handed swing. He sits on the backside, sees the ball deep into the zone, and is highly-repeatable with above-average bat speed and bat strength. Seymore worked short to the ball and consistently peppered hard contact back up the middle of the field. Defensively, he has natural catcher actions, quick feet and release along with improved arm strength; he topped 76 mph to second with a low pop time of 1.96. It’s also worth adding that he ran a 7.19 in the 60, a noteworthy mark given his thick strength, position profile, and age.

+ St. Rita sophomore Jones continued to show the direct, strong (95.4 mph max exit velocity) right-handed swing we have seen in-game in the past. Jones stays compact, repeatable and flashes a heavy barrel with gap-to-gap tendencies. Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound strong-bodied catcher showed some of the softest hands of the crop of catchers and a clean, repeatable transfer. Jones has a short arm action, and creates downhill tilt to second base with true four-seam carry and topped at 76 mph with a low pop time of 2.06. 

+ Nauden – who participated at the PBR Future Games as a 2024 – recorded some of the top TrackMan hitting numbers across the board at the event. Nauden has a 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame with well-proportioned strength throughout and led the event with an average exit velocity of 92.5 mph, alongside a hard hit rate of 90 percent (nine of his 10 batted balls left the barrel at 90-plus mph). Nauden creates advanced leverage with strong hands and slight lift in his swing; best batted ball traveled 345 feet. Defensively, he showed a quick glove-to-hand release, topped at 79 mph and his low pop time came in at 2.02. 

+ Hartmann, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound catcher, was one of the first hitters of the event and made a statement right out of the gate. The right-handed hitter swings with serious intent, aggression and looks to elevate the balls into both gaps with authority. With that said, Hartmann stays flat and long through the zone with the ability to create backspin to the pull-side gap. Hartmann’s hardest barrel came off the bat at 94.3 mph with his furthest batted ball traveling 334 feet. Hartmann also tied the event-high to second base (80 mph), with a low pop time of 1.96. Follow 2024 catcher with a potent right-handed bat.

2024 INFIELDERS

+ There were a number of high-level infield defenders who showed well throughout the day, but Kenny Perez (De La Salle, 2024), arguably, sat at the top of the list. Perez carries himself with confidence and has all the makings to be a top-level shortstop in the class. He plays light on his feet with a bounce in his step and a natural flair to his game. His hands are soft and ultra-confident, he moves with ease, playing with body control on the move, and he can throw from any angle (84 mph high). The right-handed hitter ran a 7.20 in the 60 and he also put together an impressive round of BP. Perez uses a small leg-lift load with loose, fast hands and he creates natural loft with the ability to create backspin off the barrel at times. The 5-foot-9, 140-pounder possesses advanced bat strength for his size and age, leading the event in average batted ball distance at 299 feet, and his furthest batted ball traveled 351 feet. Perez also recorded a max exit velocity of 96.9 mph, an average of 91.0, generating a sweet spot rate of 90 percent. High-level 2024 prospect on the rise coming out of the event.

+ Here’s a trio of left-handed-hitting infielders worth noting: Jackson Smith (Providence Catholic), James Novakovic (New Trier), and Gavin Duran (Harvest Christian). Smith has a 6-foot, 160-pound wiry/lean frame, ran a 6.84, and he profiles as a top-of-the-order middle infielder moving forward. He flashed an easy, balanced, handsy swing featuring barrel control from a spray approach. Defensively, he plays fast with quick, active feet, sure hands, and a consistently fast glove-to-hand release from a low slot. He profiles as a potential spark plug-type.

From New Trier, Novakovic has a fluid, uphill stroke and savvy infield actions with the ability to play comfortably on the move and throw from multiple platforms. Lastly, Duran has a compact frame with short levers at the plate, with present bat speed and a knack for hard contact to all fields. He also ran a 7.06 in the 60 and registered a 92.6 mph peak exit velocity.

+ Switch-hitting Pittsburgh commit, Tyler Bell (Lincoln-Way East), is another impressive infielder with the tools to stay on the left side of the diamond for the long haul. The 6-foot, 170-pound Bell ran a 7.13, was 88 mph across the infield, and he made the infield defensive portion of the event look easy with clean and efficient actions and minimal effort. He looks equally as potent from both sides of the plate with an easy, loose swing with some strength through contact. Impressive 2024 infielder.

+ James Love (Joliet West) and Bennett Summers (Bloomington Central Catholic) showed solid all-around skill sets with the ability to handle the bat and clean infield actions that should keep them on the left side of the diamond moving forward. 

+ Left-handed-hitting 1B Jackson Petsche (Oswego East) made a strong impression in his PBR event debut. Petsche led the event with an average bat speed of 79.3 mph (85 mph max) to go along with a top-six average hand speed (24 mph). He was also towards the top of a couple of TrackMan categories: max exit velocity (97.5 mph), average exit speed (90.0), and batted distance (338 feet). Petsche showed loose, quick hands, and he stays short to the ball while driving hard backspin contact into both gaps.

+ Cash Campbell (Montini Catholic) and Jaden Obaldo (Crystal Lake Central) are a pair more 2024 infielders who’ve stood out previously and continue to project as follow, bat-first prospects in the state’s sophomore class. Oblado repeated barrel after barrel contact from the right side, generating a hard-hit rate of 80 percent, among the day’s best, and he averaged an exit speed of 91.3 mph, the second highest of the showcase. Campbell produced the hardest-hit ball among left-handed batters (97.8 mph).

2025 POSITION PLAYERS

+ At the top of the max distance leaderboard sat three freshmen: C/INF Peter Visconti (St. Joseph), Henry Murray (Lane Tech), and Benjamin Mitchell (Harvest Christian). 

Visconti has been on our radar for some time now, and he clearly wields one of the most polished bats in the state’s 2025 class. He has a comfortable, relaxed look in the box and is consistently on time and ultra-quiet while demonstrating effortless barrel feel packed with strength through impact. The ball jumps off Visconti’s bat and he worked to both gaps throughout his round. Visconti recorded a peak exit velocity of 97.3 mph, average of 90.8, and his furthest batted ball traveled an event-high 362 feet (289 on average; second highest of the event). Visconti also shows versatility defensively with the potential to stick behind the plate, while athletic enough to fit somewhere on the infield; a 7.18 runner.

Murray drove a ball 360 feet while Mitchell launched one 352 feet. Murray, a switch-hitter, took an explosive round of BP, routinely making hard, loud contact into the pull-side gap with an athletic, aggressive swing that stays level through the zone.

Here’s a couple more right-handed hitters in the freshman class who previously have, and continue to, impress our staff: C/INF/RHP Enzo Infelise (Providence Catholic) and 1B/LHP Conor Essenburg (Lincoln-Way West), both of whom are former PBR Junior Future Games participants.

+ Infelise has advanced bat strength for his age, and he swings with a purpose, routinely driving balls with authority into both gaps. Infelise also has advanced arm strength, running it up to 84 mph across the infield and on the mound.

+ Essenburg has an athletic look to his overall game and especially at the plate. It is a loose, athletic swing that gets extension through contact and is tailored to elevate the baseball with authority and sit somewhere in the middle of an order. He is also an above-average first baseman and has a bright future on the mound, though he did not pitch at this event; his 85 mph high across from a loose, quick left-handed arm is evidence of this, however.

+ Ryne Dzierzynski (Grant), Derrick Holmes (Brother Rice), and Jack Wheeler (Morris; Illinois commit) were three infielders who each have the ability to stick on the left side of the diamond, all while showing equal upside offensively.

Dzierzynski looks the part in the right-handed box, standing in with a confident, relaxed setup and repeatable swing that works direct to the ball and flat through the zone. Defensively, he plays with rhythm at times, athletic actions, and sure hands with a quick, clean release and his arm topped at 79 mph across; also ran a 7.19 in the 60.

Holmes also recorded a 7.19 time in the 60 and he’s grown a couple of inches since last summer’s Junior Future Games –  now listed at 5-foot-10, 158 pounds. Holmes is a natural infield defender with advanced confidence in his hands with quick, active feet and a strong arm (86 mph). At the plate, it is a top-of-the-order profile with a direct path, athletic hands and sneaky jump off the barrel at times.

Wheeler, an Illinois verbal commit, features one of the highest upsides out of all the 2025s in attendance, as he features a long-limbed, high-waisted 6-foot-3, 165-pound frame fit with athleticism. Wheeler ran a 7.40 in the 60 and showed advanced feel on the infield with loose actions, clean hands, and his arm topped at 84 mph to first. He also showed an aggressive right-handed swing that works level through the hitting zone. 

+ Among the day’s biggest winners inside the freshman class: OF Joseph Arend (St. Charles East), 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.

+ Here’s a handful of potent bats to keep an eye on in the 2025 class: INF AJ Putty (Huntley), INF Brady Green (Oak Park-River Forest), INF Jimmy Downs (Brother Rice), and OF Aaron Scott (St. Rita).

Putty has a physical 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and his long, loose, strong right-handed swing is aided by his natural feel to hit and advanced power potential for his age.

Green has a compact 5-foot-9, 160-pound frame, ran a 7.31 in the 60, and he stays short, direct and repeats at a high rate from the right side of the plate. Green gets extension through contact and he made hard contact to all fields during his round. 

Downs has a 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame and strong, durable build that matches his compact right-handed swing and advanced feel for the barrel, resulting in repeat hard-hit contact. Downs registered a peak exit velocity of 93.2 mph and max distance off the bat of 339 feet.

Scott has a contact-oriented swing that connected at a high rate, staying compact and short to the baseball, living on the barrel and working gap-to-gap. 

+ Keep an eye on this trio of 2025 catchers: Charlie Meister (Hersey), Brandon Stinson (Kenwood), and Gael Urbieta (Loyola Academy). All three were advanced behind the plate and can more than hold their own with their right-handed bats. Meister, in particular, averaged an exit speed of 91.1 mph which trailed just two other hitters, and his 80 percent hard-hit rate was in a similarly impressive tier of talent. 

TWO-WAY PROSPECTS

+ Here are two of the top two-way talents at The MAX on Saturday: SS/RHP Xavier Crowder (Montini Catholic, 2025) and SS/RHP Jackson Natanek (Brother Rice, 2025). Both stood out on the mound with their high spin rate breaking balls that topped the entire event. Crowder led the showcase with a curveball that averaged a spin rate of nearly 2,700 rpm, while Natanek’s slider averaged nearly 2,600 rpm, which led that pitch’s category. Both clearly have dynamic, athletic arms and Crowder paired his breaking ball with one of the top fastballs of that day, topping at 90.7 mph. Crowder’s dynamic athleticism was on display as a position player as well. He ran the top 60 time for 2025s (6.94) and showed off elite bat speed for his age (75.5 mph max). Crowder swings with intent off an uphill path with pull-side tendencies and his furthest batted ball traveled 346 feet. Natanek is a high-level shortstop with fundamentally sound, athletic actions, and a strong arm, naturally, and has shown a feel to hit from the right-handed box.

+ OF/LHP Jack LoConte (Andrew, 2024) also showed his potential as a two-way player. LoConte is an athletic, left/left prospect who ran a 7.22 60, and was 86 mph from the outfield. At the plate, he stayed inside the baseball with feel for the barrel and sprayed line-drive contact to all fields. On the mound, LoConte ran his fastball up to 85 mph – up from 81 last winter – to go along with an above-average three-pitch mix. 

+ Another left/left two-way prospect in the 2025 class with a bright two-way future is Talan Hull (Galva). Hull has an advanced 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame and swung with controlled aggression at the plate, flashing strong, quick hands (23.4 mph average hand speed) with an on-plane swing working from a gap-to-gap approach. Hull also ran a 7.39 in the 60, which is a well-above-average time given his frame and size, all while showing clean outfield actions and a strong arm that topped at 86 mph on defense and 83 on the mound. 

2024-25 PITCHERS

+ There was one clear stand-out of the day on the mound: Wake Forest recruit RHP Ryan Sloan (York, 2024). He’s a high upside arm with an already dominant fastball that topped at 91.7 mph with advanced arm-side action, averaging over 15 inches of horizontal movement. He paired it with an equally impressive sweeping slider that averaged almost 12 inches of action in the opposite direction. Toss in a sinking changeup, and Sloan has a plus three-pitch repertoire for his age that profiles as a high-level starter at the next level.

+ Representing the Class of 2025, LHP Joey Olson (St. Laurence) showed as one of the top in attendance. At an athletic 6-foot, 185 pounds, Olson has a quick, clean arm that produced an 84-85 mph fastball that played true, flashing carry through the zone. While the secondary stuff is still developing, his arm speed and athleticism should lead to a quick transition for developing matching advanced secondary offerings.

+ Two of the top fastball offerings of the day belong to the big right arms of Luke Weber (Highland Park, 2024) and Wyatt Mammen (Lincoln, 2024). Both had two of the better fastball velocity ranges at the event, proving they were able to hold high-end velocity throughout their ‘pen. Weber sat 87-88 mph and Mammen brought a comfortable 88-90 fastball that felt hard and heavy. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, it's easy to see Mammen growing and holding even more velocity down the road for long stretches.

+ Here’s a pair of arms who really stood out with their size and unique fastball properties: LHP Ethan Eberle (Normal Community, 2024) and RHP Keegan Waters (Morris, 2024). The southpaw Eberle stands at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and his fastball sat 83-84 mph, topping at 84.8 mph and averaged some of the best horizontal movement of the day, at over 16 inches of arm-side action. Waters, on the other hand, is a big-bodied 6-foot-3, 185 pounds with a heavy sinking fastball out of a ¾ slot, sitting 82-85 mph. Waters also showed some of the better zone feel of the day, controlling four pitches for strikes, creating a unique starter profile. 

+ RHP Luke Teschke (Monticello, 2024) put together one of the more well-rounded showings on the mound, with three advanced offerings, Teschke profiles well as a next-level starter with advanced stuff, a repeatable delivery, and lively arm. His fastball was one of the better of the day sitting 87-88 mph with above-average feel and finish through the zone. His curveball is thrown aggressively at 72-75 mph and he completes his offerings with a changeup that spins at an atypical high rate (2,111 rpm average) and it flashed hard, darting action, 75-76.

+ RHP Malachi Paplanus (Huntley, 2024) falls into a similar category to Teschke, showing one of the more complete arsenals of the day. He’s got a blistering fastball at 87-89 mph, but it's his breaking ball that’s a true separator. He utilizes a high-spin curveball that reached 2,610 rpm, thrown confidently, 74-77 mph, that creates devastating out-pitch potential. 

+ Here are some more upside arms to keep an eye on: RHP Tom Ford (Lisle, 2024), RHP Daniel Cercello (Neuqua Valley, 2024), and RHP Trevor Rehnstrom (Glenbard East, 2024).The three are individually listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, and 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, so their physical potential is obvious. All three have long, projectable levers that create hand speed and leverage. Ford finished his ‘pen with two of his best fastballs, topping at 87.1 mph and creating true backspin. Cercello sat 84-86 mph with a hard and heavy fastball; Rehnstrom also sat 84-86 mph with an easy arm and aggressive curveball to go with it.

+ This was a very impressive group and there are plenty more names to discuss and break down over the coming days, so stay tuned for additional coverage. For now, click here to view the event’s landing page, which features the day’s stat leaders and full roster.

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