Top-10 Stories of 2022: No. 1 Murphy, Schultz make Illinois history as first-rounders
December 30, 2022
Since the year 2000, just seven Illinois high schoolers have been selected in the first round of the MLB Draft and the state has been on an especially talent-laden run these past five years or so, especially, which makes the 2022 class particularly exciting. Four of those first-rounders have been drafted within the past four years.
Two of those first-rounders heard their names called in the most recent MLB Draft, Owen Murphy (Braves; Pick No. 20) and Noah Schultz (White Sox; Pick No. 26), which is really the most significant of the modern era, at least since 1975 when Chicago natives Les Filkins (Washington HS) and Brian Rosinski (Evanston Township HS) were selected back-to-back at picks Nos. 3 and 4 overall.
From PBR Illinois Scouting Director, Drew Locascio: “Our staff saw early on that the 2022 class was one of the more talented classes to come through in recent memory but I don't think anyone could have anticipated two arms going in the first round, making it a historic year for Illinois high school baseball. Since I became the Illinois Scouting Director in 2015, I have not seen someone dominate the high school scene the way Owen Murphy did his final two years of high school on both sides of the ball. No one has come through with a higher-ceiling on the mound than Noah Schultz.”
A lot’s changed since then, and the prep success of Murphy and Schultz is just the latest example of the ascendance of the state of baseball in Illinois, especially at the high school age level. The two were drafted in the first round on the heels of fellow homegrown first-rounders like 2020’s Ed Howard IV (Cubs; Pick No. 16) and 2019’s Quinn Priester (Pirates; No. 18), and they’re also paving the way for the upcoming Class of 2023, which is one of the deepest we’ve seen in some time. We covered the exhilarating ‘23 class within this top-10 countdown on Dec. 23, as it features some headliners with legitimate first-round aspirations, in addition to a set of names with top-10-round potential that goes as far as 16 names deep, or so. It is that special of a collection of Illinois prep products.
But, as eager as we are to see the 2023 Draft play out, we’re here to celebrate what we considered to be the top moment of this past year: witnessing local prospects Murphy and Schultz hear their names called within seven picks of each other this past July. The moment encapsulates the momentum Illinois’ baseball scene has been enjoying for the past decade or so, and signals an increasingly bright future for its homegrown stars-in-the-making.
Murphy was an analytical evaluator’s darling, a metric model’s diamond in the rough, even though his weekly output inside the IHSA was impossible to ignore or overlook. While Schultz’s pro potential was somewhat more traditional and obvious, given his imposing size and premium velocity from the left side, Murphy pushed against the grain of the prep right-hander narrative. Pro scouts occupied every seat behind home plate, and then some, when these two were on the bump pitching for their respective high school programs. PBR Illinois was in the audience at several of their outings through the 2022 spring season, and it was a sight to behold every time.
𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮 𝗠𝗟𝗕 𝗗𝗿𝗮𝗳𝘁 ⚾️— PBR Illinois (@PBRIllinois) July 18, 2022
With the 20th pick in the 2022 #MLBDraft, the Atlanta Braves selected Owen Murphy.
Murphy, who's the back-to-back PBR IL Player of the Year, struck out 122 batters this spring and posted a .14 ERA. He also batted .564 with 18 HRs. pic.twitter.com/8QSol4rEeW
The calmness in which Murphy carved was palpable, and his dominance produced statistics tough to match in a video game set to its lowest difficulty. While Schultz pitched less often than Murphy in the spring, his upside as a pro prospect was similarly apparent and intriguing. Schultz’s outings didn’t require much time to pore over his talent to consider him a first-round type, and it made it even sweeter to see him selected by the White Sox, which play just 40 miles southwest of Oswego East’s varsity field.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Soak it all in, Noah Schultz! pic.twitter.com/nV0TCIDQEx— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 18, 2022
MORE 2022 MLB DRAFT SUCCESS
And the success of the 2022 class doesn’t end with these two, as two other preps were drafted and signed from the most recent MLB Draft: Ashton Izzi (Mariners; Round 4, Pick No. 126), who is also from Oswego East, and Hinsdale Central’s Luke Adams (Brewers; Round 12, Pick No. 372).
More from Locascio, PBR Illinois Scouting Director since 2015: “Another side note to this past year's Draft is that Oswego East also had hard-throwing right-haner Ashton Izzi, who got drafted in the fourth round by the Mariners. It may be a long time before you see another Illinois high school produce two high school drafts in the top four rounds. The Illinois high school scene is in strong shape as the 2023 class looks just as talented as the '22 class, at the top, with Dillon Head and Zander Mueth leading the way in another stacked class.”
While Izzi has not yet gotten a taste of pro ball in a live game setting, the aforementioned Adams hit the ground sprinting upon signing with Milwaukee, where he slugged .563 in 11 games and 41 plate appearances for one of the Brewers’ two Arizona Complex League teams, performing well beyond expectations for a high school-aged player selected in Round 12 just a month earlier.
Luke Adams (2/6/22)
The draft status of the two first-rounders somewhat dimmed Izzi’s own star potential, but he was consistently impressive in 2022 following a break-out junior year. In a pair of April outings in front of our own staff, Izzi sat in the low-90s, touching a 94 mph high, while featuring a short slider that’s flashed out-pitch potential in the past, as well as a swing-and-miss changeup. His three-pitch mix, athleticism and 6-foot-3 stature held scouts’ attention throughout the spring, and he ended up snagging the attention of Seattle’s scouting department, where he’s since signed and will debut in 2023.
‘22 RHP Ashton Izzi (@OEHSbaseball; @GoShockersBSB) giving an impressive look on this cold day.— PBR Illinois (@PBRIllinois) April 5, 2022
FB: 92-93 mph, T94 mph
SL: 76-82 mph, short 10/4 action
CH: 80-83 mph, late fade
Izzi has recorded 8 of his 9 outs via strikeout. pic.twitter.com/o9Jcj8zEhL
A SYNOPSIS OF ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOLERS IN THE MLB DRAFT, SINCE 2000
The following list covers Illinois high school players officially selected in an MLB Draft since the year 2000:
+ Donovan McIntyre (Giants; Round 11, Pick No. 326) was the only Illinois prep drafted in the 2021 Draft and he did sign. He spent 2022 on San Francisco’s Complex League squad where he played in 45 games and tallied a couple home runs.
+ Two preps were drafted and both signed in 2020: Ed Howard (Cubs; Round One, Pick No. 16) and Ben Hernandez (Royals; Round Two, Pick No. 41).
Ben Hernandez: good at throwing baseballs— Columbia Fireflies (@ColaFireflies) August 7, 2022
He finished the night with 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, and SEVEN strikeouts.
Here’s three of those strikeouts: pic.twitter.com/8ERyeO1kmk
+ Before the Draft was shortened to 20 rounds in 2020, 12 Illinois prep prospects were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, though five were taken prior to the 20th round: Quinn Priester (Pirates; Round One, Pick 18), Jalen Greer (Athletics; Round Five, Pick No. 164), Tyler Schlaffer (Cubs; Round Nine, Pick No. 282), Tyler Statler (Cardinals; Round 14, Pick No. 425), and DJ Gladney (White Sox, Round 16, Pick No. 470), each signed, as well as Pierce Jones (Padres; Pick No. 773), who was selected in the 26th round. The following did not sign: Ryan Ritter, Jason Hodges, Michael Prosecky, Mitchell Jackson, Matt McCormick, and Kendal Ewell.
+ It was presumed prior to the 2018 MLB Draft that Illinois would have its latest first-rounder, but star Mount Carmel prep Alek Thomas (Diamondbacks; Round Two, Pick No. 63) unexpectedly fell to the second round and he shined in pro ball since, making his debut MLB debut in 2022 where he appears to be an impactful piece of the D-backs' future. Thomas was the lone prep player from Illinois to have been drafted and signed that year, though Antonie Kelly was drafted back-to-back years and is now in the Rangers’ system having made his Double-A debut this past summer upon his trade from Milwaukee to Texas at the most recent deadline.
WHAT A CATCH BY ALEK THOMAS TO END THE GAME pic.twitter.com/THri8RS6fj— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 14, 2022
+ Ten Illinois prep players were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft, though none were selected prior to Round Four, where Brendan Murphy was drafted by the Cardinals at pick No. 114 overall. Donivan Williams (Cardinals; Round 14, Pick No. 424) was the only other player to have signed a pro contract from that Draft. Glenwood’s Reid Detmers was also selected as a prep this year, though he opted for the Louisville route where he enjoyed a highly successful collegiate career that earned him a first-round pick a few years later, and he tossed a no-hitter in the 2022 season, which was another one of our favorite moments of this past year.
Reid Detmers now has a no-hitter AND an immaculate inning this season! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/m1cp1Ww17f— MLB (@MLB) July 31, 2022
+ The 2016 MLB Draft featured the success story of Jack Suwinski (Padres; Round 15, Pick No. 444), who made his MLB debut this past season for the Pirates which featured some highlight-reel moments. He was the only Illinois prep prospect to have been drafted before Round 28 that year, though two others signed: Jean Casanova (Rangers; Round 35, Pick No. 1,059) and Kevin Malisheski (Dodgers; Round 38, Pick No. 1,151).
+ One 2015 prepster signed of that year’s MLB Draft: Bryan Hudson (Cubs; Round Three, Pick No. 82). No other picks were drafted before Round 30. Another Glenwood product, Nick Maton, was selected in the 40th round this year, but he chose to spend a couple seasons at the nearby Lincoln Land JC instead, where he became a seventh-rounder in 2017 and it paved the way for him to make his MLB debut in 2021 and he went on to face his brother Phil this past October, earning this line-drive single.
Nick Maton got a hit off his brother Phil and you have to love the reactions by them both. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/Acvel8I8Fv— MLB (@MLB) October 5, 2022
+ In 2014, Simeon Lucas (Indians; Round Seven, Pick No. 218) was the first of our state’s prep players to have been drafted. Two others did sign that year: Mitch Trees (Blue Jays; Round 11, Pick No. 324) and Darius Day (Rangers; Round 23, Pick No. 696). Tanner Houck was drafted by the Blue Jays in Round 12 out of Collinsville HS but did not sign, and he went on to become the 24th overall pick of the 2017 Draft out of Mizzou, and he spent much of the past two seasons contributing as a key member of the Red Sox’s pitching staff. Michael Papierski was also selected out of Lemont this year, though he chose to follow his commitment to LSU where he became a ninth-rounder and eventual big leaguer, slugging one home run at the MLB level while a member of the Reds this past season, after making his debut for the Giants just earlier in the summer. Lemont also had another eventual big leaguer on its roster that spring, Jake Latz, who was drafted both in 2014 and again in 2017 byway of Kent State. Latz made his MLB debut in 2021 for the Rangers.
+ The 2013 MLB Draft featured no Illinois prep players selected before Round 10, though the first one to be drafted, Matt Brill, did not sign at the Mets’ pick No. 716 overall. Two did sign that year: Michael Hermosillo (Angels; Round 28, Pick No. 847) and Anthony Ray (Cardinals; Round 36, Pick No. 1,085). It was this year in which Corey Ray was also selected as a prep, though he, too, chose to attend Louisville instead, where he was one of the country’s top collegiate players, which eventually earned him the opportunity to become the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He went on to make his MLB debut in 2021 for the Brewers.
+ In 2012, the first four Illinois prep players drafted and signed, spanning rounds five through 18, including Chad Johnson (Royals; Round Five, Pick No. 163) and Kevin Ross (Pirates; Round Eight, Pick No. 256). Zach Stoner (White Sox; Round 12, Pick No. 381) and Ryan Borucki (Blue Jays; Round 15, Pick No. 475). Raymond Hunnicutt (Orioles; Round 40, Pick No. 1,212) also signed that year as one of the final picks of the Draft. Carmel Catholic’s Alex Young did not sign as a 32nd round pick this year, but became a second-rounder two years later and he’s pitched in parts of four MLB seasons since, including this past year as a member of the Guardians.
+ When Alek Thomas was selected with the No. 63 overall pick, he was the highest Illinois prep player to have been drafted and signed since 2011’s Charlie Tilson (Cardinals; Round Two, Pick No. 79). Garrett Schlecht also signed that year after hearing his name called in the ninth round at pick No. 279 overall by the Cubs. Jakob Junis (Royals) signed after being drafted in Round 29 that year, and has been one of the most successful prep picks from our state over that time, accruing 6.4 bWAR over 128 MLB games since. Cody Livesay (Braves; Round 42, Pick No. 1,286) was also drafted and signed that year, the last of four Illinois preps. Nick Burdi is yet another Louisville product on this list who’s earned MLB opportunities, drafted twice, including as a prep in 2011. This was also the year that decorated IHSA alum Sam Travis graduated Providence Catholic HS, and was drafted. After three years at Indiana, he was a second-rounder by the Red Sox and played in parts of three MLB seasons, and he hit seven pro homers, six of which came in the 2019 season. St. Charles East HS alum Wes Benjamin also eventually played in the MLB from this class, as a fifth-rounder from Kansas after hearing his name called in the 48th round as a senior in high school.
+ The 2010 MLB Draft underscores the significance of Illinois’ most recent runs of high-end prep picks. The 2010 Draft was the last time an Illinois prep player was drafted in the first round until Priester in 2019, which was Mike Foltynewicz (Astros; Round One, Pick No. 19). Foltynewicz went on to pitch 825 innings in the MLB, the most recent in which came in 2019 with the Rangers, though he spent the large majority of his career with the Braves, where he was an All-Star in 2018. Jake DePew (Rays; Round 9, Pick No. 281) was one of three others to have signed from that Draft, including Ryan Hartman (Cubs; Round 16, Pick No. 490) and Kendall Radcliffe (Rangers; Round 25, Pick No. 766). Effingham’s Chad Green was drafted though did not sign that year, and he was ultimately drafted again in the 11th round three years later out of Louisville, and he’s been one of the top MLB performers from the state since. Connor Sadzeck was also drafted this year, out of Crystal Lake Central, though he opted for the JUCO route instead and was an 11th round pick out of Texas’ Howard JC and he ultimately made his MLB debut for the Rangers in 2018, and he made two appearances just this past season for the Brewers, his first big league opportunities since the 2019 season. DJ Snelton, from Lakes Community HS, is another member of this 2010 class to have played in the MLB, drafted in the 30th round of this year though he did not sign until he was drafted again as a ninth-rounder in 2013. A St. Rita HS alum, Mark Payton is fresh off a hugely successful season in which he thrived at the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate, which eventually earned him an eight-game stint with the parent club, and he’s played in parts of 40 MLB games total in his career. Brock Stewart was a stand-out at Illinois State after graduating from Normal West HS, from where he was drafted in 2010. Stewart went on to appear in 46 MLB games across four seasons, the most recent being 2019 for both the Dodgers and the Blue Jays. Mike Gerber is yet another 2010 grad who played in the Majors, eventually. He was selected out of Neuqua Valley HS in 2010 and again in the 14th round of the 2014 Draft after a robust career at Creighton.
+ The first five Illinois preps that were drafted each signed in the 2009 MLB Draft, including second-rounder Tanner Bushue (Astros; Pick No. 69). The three others were Seth Schwindenhammer (Red Sox; Round Five, Pick No. 168), Ian Krol (Athletics; Round Seven, Pick No. 213), and Blair Springfield (Cubs; Round Seven, Pick No. 230). Krol was the lone member from this year’s Draft to have played in the MLB, totaling appearances in 243 games.
+ From the 2008 Draft, Jake Odorizzi (Brewers; Round One, Pick No. 32) has been the top MLB performer selected this century from Illinois and he’s been fairly unrivaled. Jayson Werth, Cliff Floyd, Mark Mulder, Dick Schofield are the only others who’ve surpassed Odorizzi’s 13.6 bWAR as Illinois natives drafted in the year 1980 and on. Greg Billo (Royals; Round 28, Pick No. 835) was the only other member of this 2008 Draft to have signed. Tony Zych did not sign and was drafted again, this time as a fourth-rounder out of Louisville, and the only other after Odorizzi to accrue MLB service, featuring in 70 games, predominantly as a reliever for the Mariners.
+ Eight Illinois prepsters signed from the 2007 MLB Draft, including three picked within the first five rounds: Jake Smolinski (Nationals; Round Two, Pick No. 70), TJ McFarland (Indians; Round Four, Pick No. 137), and Casey Crosby (Tigers; Round Five, Pick No. 181). Cody Scarpetta (Brewers; Round 11, Pick No. 341), Brett Zawacki (Cardinals; Round 12, Pick No. 382), Butch Biela (Pirates; Round 13, Pick No. 398), Kyle Ayers (Devil Rays; Round 14, Pick No. 425), and Kyle Kaminska (Marlins; Round 25, Pick No. 766) were the others to have signed.
+ The 2006 Draft featured a pair of picks within the first three rounds: Joe Benson (Twins; Round Two, Pick No. 64) and Zach McAllister (Yankees; Round Three, Pick No. 104). Tyler Ladendorf was drafted by the Yankees as well, though did not sign, but did in 2008 from Howard College as a second-rounder, and he did make 66 MLB at-bats, the most recent of which came as a member of the Cubs in 2021 after a five-year gap between MLB plate appearances.
+ Three signed in the 2005 MLB Draft, and each earned opportunities in the big leagues eventually: Michael Bowden (Red Sox; Supplementary Round One, Pick No. 47), Mike Broadway (Braves; Round Four, Pick No. 137), and Josh Thole (Mets; Round 13, Pick No. 389). Bowden appeared in 64 MLB games finishing his career with a lifetime ERA of 4.51, while Thole went on to play in 478 MLB games, making 1,336 lifetime plate appearances.
+ Just one player from Illinois, whether or not they signed, went on to make a Major League appearance from either the 2004 or 2003 MLB drafts, and that was one of the latest players selected overall between those two years: Jim Adduci (Marlins; Round 42, Pick No. 1,252). Adduci played in 151 MLB games over his career, hitting five big league home runs total. Neither Draft featured an Illinois high schooler selected prior to the 10th round, either.
+ The 2002 MLB Draft was a noteworthy one for Illinois high schoolers, as five were drafted and went on to sign this year, including the No. 93 overall pick, Billy Petrick (Cubs; Round Three). Scott Olsen (Marlins; Round Six, Pick No. 173) pitched in parts of 128 MLB games. And while he did not sign for the Royals at the time, Cesar Carrillo went on to pitch in the MLB after his selection in the first round of the 2005 Draft, byway of Miami and Mount Carmel HS.
+ In 2001, Kris Honel (White Sox; Round One, Pick No. 16) became the highest Illinois high schooler drafted since Cliff Floyd in 1991 (Expos; Pick No. 14). Ed Howard matched Honel at No. 16 in the 2020 Draft, becoming the highest overall Illinois high schooler picked since.
+ A total of 10 Illinois high schoolers signed from the 2000 MLB Draft, though just a pair of those that signed that year went on to play in the MLB: Carmen Pignatiello (Cubs; Round 20, Pick No. 583) and Victor Diaz (Dodgers; Round 37, Pick No. 1,107). Tom Gorzelanny was drafted out of Marist HS that year, though opted for college instead, and he bounced from Kansas to the Chicago-area JUCO Triton, where he was a second-rounder in 2003, and he eventually went on to accumulate appearances in 314 MLB games and totaled 714 career strikeouts over the course of 12 seasons.