Prep Baseball Report

Super 60: Complete Illinois Analysis

Sean Duncan

Illinois' 2018 draft class is strong at the very top, what with OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS) as a possible Day 1 pick. After Thomas, though, Illinois' 2018 class was considered to be muddled, one that has a lot of interesting guys, and depending on a scout's particular sweet tooth, a class loaded with wait-and-see college guys.

That still may be the case, but after the performances put forth at the 16th Annual Super 60 Pro Showcase, several Illinois prospects raised their national stocks significantly with breakout showings in front of nearly 200 pro scouts. In all, there were eight Illinois players represented at The Max in McCook, IL on Feb. 4.

Among the eight, there were a few eye-opening performances, headlined by RHP Francois Castillo and OF Dakota Kotowski (Providence Catholic HS), who were both highlighted in Super 60 Risers and Revelations story. RHP Jacob Maton (Glenwood HS) may not have flashed the sexiest of fastball velocities, but his three-pitch mix was effortlessly superb, headlined by a slider that was arguably the best breaking ball at the entire event. LHP Nathan Lavender (El Paso HS) will now likely have scouts flocking to the small Central Illinois school after he flashed the best velocity from a left-hander at the event. OF Zaid Walker (Homewood-Flossmoor HS) was arguably the most physically impressive athlete at the Super 60, SS Branden Comia (Sandburg HS) showed off his polished glovework, and 1B Anthony Herron (Mount Carmel HS) flashed some of his man-strength.

All told, it was a good day for Illinois.

Here's an in-depth look at all eight Illinois draft prospects at the Super 60:

Alek Thomas OF / OF / Mount Carmel , IL / 2018

Texas Christian recruit, currently ranked No. 8 in the PBR High School Draft 100. 5-foot-11, 179-pound left-handed hitting outfielder, athletic, wiry-strong frame with room for continued physical development. Easy, natural athlete - recruited to go to TCU in baseball and football (also standout basketball player) - with highly advanced baseball instincts. Ran a 6.70 laser-timed 60 (previously ran a 6.43 at the PBR Midwest ProCase last summer). Offensively, hits from a relaxed, open setup, advanced rhythm in load, smooth leg lift back; loose, fluid athletic hands, generates easy bat speed. Overall professional approach. Registered 95 mph exit velocity off a tee with wood. Per FlightScope data during BP, had an average exit velocity of 92.61 with a max of 99.4, with an average launch angle of 15.94 degrees, and a max carry of 360.17. ... Speed and athleticism translate in the field, profiles as a centerfielder at the next level. High-level defender with advanced defensive actions. Moves with fluidity and ease. Was clocked at 88 mph from the outfield. Overall, potential top-round draft prospect. 



Francois Castillo RHP / 3B / Lake View, IL / 2018

Eastern Illinois recruit. Castillo was a late addition to the Super 60 roster, and the 6-foot, 220-pounder certainly took advantage of the opportunity. Recently began focusing as a primary pitcher (previously was a 3B/OF), and the progress on the mound has been nothing short of impressive. Fastball sat 93-94 from both the windup and stretch, mostly straight. Has made significant strides with his secondary stuff. Curveball flashed 12/6 action with depth and late-bite. Throws it with aggression; flashes potential to be swing-and-miss offering in the future. Per FlightScope date, he registered a 2,646 spin rate on breaking ball, ninth-best at Super 60. Also threw an 85-86 mph changeup for strikes. Possesses ultra-quick arm with clean, uninterrupted arm swing from a high-¾ slot. Side step delivery is unrefined. Works quickly, aggressive lower half and gets down the mound athletically. Pitches with seldom-seen energy at an event like this. With more focus as a pitcher and further refinement, Castillo has the athleticism and electricity to continue to tick up and become a highly interesting draft prospect, if not in June, then in a few years.



Jacob Maton RHP / Chatham-Glenwood, IL / 2018

Coastal Carolina recruit. 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-handed pitcher with athletic, wiry-strong build and plenty of room for continued physical development. Delivered an overall polished bullpen at the Super 60, showing true starter-type stuff at the next level. Advanced three-pitch mix, controlled the zone with all three, highlighted by a true swing-and-miss slider. Minimal side-step delivery, low effort, rhythm and pace throughout, everything works easily and athletically. Repeats well. Arm is short and compact in the back, ultra-quick out front. Ball comes out of a small window, sneaky-quick out of the hand. Fastball sat 89-91 mph, mostly straight with occasional cut, low effort, consistent strikes; more velocity in the tank. Slider is a difference-maker, arguably the best breaking ball at the Super 60. Throws it aggressively, 78-80 mph, with tight, sharp late-breaking 11/5 action. Dotted the lower-quadrant of the strike zone with it; throws it with extreme confidence. Maton was also remarkably consistent with the spin of his slider, with an average spin rate of 2,429.6, per FlightScope data, with a differentiating velocity lost crossing the plate of 9.03 mph. ... Also filled up the zone with a 79-81 mph changeup, mostly straight with occasional cut, works comfortably to his gloveside. Throws all three pitches with same arm action, out of the same small window. ... Although currently polished, Maton looks like he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Comes from a baseball family. Both his older brothers were draft picks, and Jacob may be the best of the bunch.




Dakota Kotowski OF / 1B / Providence Catholic, IL / 2018

Missouri State recruit. Extremely strong and physical 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame with developed lower half and proportional strength. Kotowski continues to show vast improvements in his overall game. Once considered a fringe first baseball/left fielder, Kotowski showed at the Super 60 that he very well may profile as a big power-hitting right fielder. Flashed arguably the best raw power at the Super 60, though lacked consistency. Hit the two farthest balls of the day (393 feet and 392), per FlightScope, and hit six balls at least 300 feet with top exit velocities of 106.07 and 105.25. His launch angle was 27.49. Beyond the data, the naked eye can see that he generates explosive bat speed and swings with angry intent to do damage. Ball jumps off the barrel, creates lift in the swing, strong through contact, dead-pull approach. Rhythm in the hands, length and inconsistency in path. ... He's always been known for his right-handed juice, but Kotowski turned some heads with his outfield arm strength, registering 94 mph. (Over the summer, at the Midwest ProCase, he was clocked at 86). Also moves a lot better than the size/frame would indicate. Moved in the outfield with some fluidity, taking more concise routes to the ball. Also chiseled down his 60 time to 7.18.




Nathan Lavender LHP / OF / El Paso, IL / 2018

Illinois recruit. 6-foot-2, 195-pound left-handed pitcher, sturdy frame with strong lower half. Elevated his national stock with a strong bullpen session. Flashed the best fastball velocity from a left-handed pitcher at the Super 60, touching 92 once, sitting 90-91 from the windup, 88-89 from the stretch. Possesses lightning quick arm coming out of a high-¾ slot, darting plunge on the backside, has the arm speed to get it up and out front consistently. Quiet side-step delivery gives way to effort at foot strike, works with aggressiveness, open-toe landing, recoil finish. Hides the ball well. Occasional timing issues led to inconsistency around the zone. Fastball showed occasional hard, late arm-side finish through the zone. Secondary pitches lacked consistency. Curveball sat predominately at 73 mph, slows down arm, inconsistent action, flashed 1/7 shape with some depth. Changeup ranged between 79-82 mph, tentative with it, tendency to pull it gloveside. With more polish with his offspeed pitches, Lavender has the premium arm speed and left-handedness to become a high-interest draft prospect in the coming years.



Zaid Walker OF / 3B / Homewood-Flossmoor, IL / 2018

Michigan State recruit. 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-handed hitting outfielder. Overall rare physical specimen, not many high school baseball players fill out a uniform quite like him; rock-solid muscle, proportionally strong throughout with extremely strong lower half; explosive quick-twitch athlete. Ran a 6.63 laser-timed 60 (previously ran a 6.46 at summer PBR ProCase). Offensively, generates advanced bat speed, mechanically quiet, rhythm in the load, utilizes lower half well, maintains excellent balance throughout. Inconsistent swing path resulted in uneven results during BP, tendency to top-spin the baseball to the pullside. The raw man-strength and explosiveness still shined, as he delivered the hardest hit ball during BP, 109.22, per FlightScope data, that carried 378.22 feet. Also registered 94 mph exit velocity off the tee with wood. ... Defensively, profiles as a corner outfielder with the arm strength to stick in right field; clocked at 93 mph from the outfield, carries well to the target, effort in the throw. Moves aggressively to the ball with fluid strides. Overall, Walker's physicality, freakish athleticism and explosive tools should make him a high-interest draft prospect this June.




Branden Comia SS / 2B / Sandburg, IL / 2018

Illinois recruit. 5-foot-11, 180-pound switch-hitting shortstop with well-proportioned strength. Solid all-around performer, instinctual athlete who moves with bounce and confidence. Ran a 6.77 laser-timed 60. High-level defender, ranges well to both sides, moves with fluidity, plays exceptionally well on the move, natural middle infield actions. Athletic arm, accurate from multiple angles, clocked at 87 mph with above-average carry across the infield; soft, reliable hands with quick and clean transfer. Offensively, is far more polished from his natural right side. Balanced, level swing, easy loose hands, line-drive approach. Generates above-average bat speed, rhythm and balance throughout; registered 100 mph exit velocity with wood off a tee. Handsier approach from the left-side, inconsistent lower half and not as balanced, but the hands are still loose and easy. Registered 90 mph exit velocity from the left side.




Anthony Herron Jr. 1B / 3B / Mount Carmel, IL / 2018

Missouri State recruit. 6-foot-1, 245-pound right-handed hitting first baseman, extra-large frame, extraordinarily strong lower half, wide shoulders; possesses overall man-strength. Highly athletic and nimble for his size. Ran a 7.13 laser-timed 60, and handles himself around first base with natural agility and ease. His right-handed bat is his calling card, though he had uneven results during his two rounds of BP. Hits from a spread setup, leg lift back, utilizes lower half well, maintains balance throughout. Generates above-average bat speed, short, compact swing path, minimal hand load, lacks separation, pull-side line-drive results with occasional lift. Has natural strength in the hands, registered 95 mph exit velocity off a tee.




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