Top-10 Stories of 2021: Detmers, Thomas, Priester Make MLB Futures Game In 2021

By: Diego Solares
Associate Scout, Staff Writer

At the end of each calendar year, our staff reflects on the most interesting stories of the past year. Through the end of the month, we’ll be counting down some of the most impactful headlines that affected Illinois’ baseball community, ending with our No. 1 story of 2021 revealed on New Year’s Day.

As we mentioned in yesterday’s countdown story, the prep future in the state of Illinois shines brighter than it potentially ever has. The next three graduating classes are loaded with professional talent throughout and should make for an ever so exciting landscape of baseball in the Land of Lincoln for the next few years.

Setting the precedent for those players, however, was an abundance of talent that came before them - primarily from the 2017, 2018, and 2019 groups. The top-ranked prospects in all three of those high school grad classes were each selected to the 2021 MLB All-Star SiriusXM Future Games, which features the top Minor League prospects competing in a seven-inning contest as part of this year’s MLB All-Star Sunday.

LHP Reid Detmers (Glenwood) was at the top of the state’s 2017 class rankings, finishing his high school career as one of the nation’s best southpaw arms. A Super 60 participant, Detmers was selected in the 32nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves but ultimately chose to uphold his commitment to Louisville and join the Cardinals’ pitching staff.


He was an instant contributor to their rotation as a freshman, making eight starts and logging 55.2 total innings. In 2019, Detmers took over the role of staff ace and posted a 2.78 ERA with 167 strikeouts across 113.1 innings pitched. He was even more dominant in the shortened 2020 season, striking out 48 over 22 innings pitched and allowing just three earned runs. While at Louisville, Detmers earned All-American honors twice, was the 2019 ACC Pitcher of the Year, and starred for USA Baseball internationally.


All the success he had while donning the cardinal red certainly caught the attention of professional teams, as the Los Angeles Angels selected Detmers with the 10th pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. He debuted in pro ball this spring, making 14 starts across Double-A and Triple-A before earning the call to the big leagues on August 1st as a 22-year-old. Detmers figures to be a mainstay in the Angels’ pitching staff next season and should be a key piece to their future rotations as well.

Stemming from Mount Carmel, OF Alek Thomas finished his high school career as a top-10 player in the country and held a firm grasp on the No. 1 spot in the Illinois 2018 class. A two-sport standout for the Caravan as a prep product and TCU commit, Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, signing for slightly above his slot’s assigned value.


All Thomas has done since reaching the minor leagues is hit. He owns a career slashline of .312/.388/.495 across 1,128 professional at-bats, tearing up all five levels of the minors that he’s been at. This past season, Thomas dominated Triple-A, slashing .369/.434/.658 with eight home runs and 11 doubles in 149 at-bats in the Pacific Coast League. He’s universally one of the game’s brightest young prospects and is absolutely knocking on the big league door.

Perhaps the most coveted name of this trio is RHP Quinn Priester (Cary Grove), who became the first high school pitcher to be selected in the first round from Illinois since 2008. He was the first prep pitcher to be taken in the 2019 MLB Draft, when the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him 18th overall.

Priester held the top spot on the Illinois’ 2019 board from April 2017 onward, finishing as a top-10 player in the country as well. He was a true standout as a prep in every sense of the word, performing at Area Codes, Tournament of Stars, and each time we saw him toe the rubber. Off the diamond, Priester helped lead the Cary Grove football team to a state championship as well.


Now a consensus top-100 prospect across the industry, Priester drew rave reviews from his performance at the High-A level this year with the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He made 20 starts this season and logged 97.2 innings, striking out 98 batters with a 3.04 ERA and .225 opponent’s batting average against. In his career at the professional level, Priester owns a career 3.08 ERA with 139 strikeouts over 134.1 innings. With a fastball that’s climbing close to the triple-digit mark and complimentary secondary offerings, Priester owns a relatively high ceiling in the long run.

Look for these young stars to make an impact for their respective clubs in the coming years and continue to grow the pipeline of talent hailing from Illinois at the professional level.