Prep Baseball Report

Top Tier Scout Day: Takeaways

By: Illinois Scouting Staff

On Wednesday, June 8, the PBR Illinois staff hosted the Top Tier Scout day at The MAX in McCook, IL. The event featured over 140 prospects from all high school levels of Top Tier and allowed our staff an up-close and personal look at a large majority of their top prospects.

Below are some of the players that stood out the most to our scouting staff from June’s event.


+ LHP/1B Conor Essenburg (Lincoln Way-West, 2025) has feel and instincts to his overall game. Offensively, the right-handed hitter has an athletic swing that stays on-plane and repeats natural gap-to-gap contact. Defensively, he moves athletically and his arm works in unison with his body, routinely firing firm and accurate throws that showed life and carry from a loose/whippy arm; also acting as an elite defender at first base. His arm easily translates over to the mound, working with a controlled tempo into a short balance point, gliding down the mound while remaining in-line. He worked his fastball in the 84-88 mph range, playing with clear life out of the hand and life through the zone. His best secondary offering was a sharp 1/7 breaking ball, thrown with feel to his glove-side on the back-foot of would-be righties, 70-73 mph. His changeup plays with hard fading action to his arm-side, kept mostly down at 76-78 mph. To round out his repertoire he went to an intriguing knuckleball, thrown hard at 73-77 mph while killing spin and playing with unpredictable action. 

(Conor Essenburg - 6/8/22)

+ The biggest winner on the mound, ultimately earning an invitation to this year’s PBR Future Games, was LHP Jack Bauer (Lincoln-Way East, 2025). Standing at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, Bauer has all sorts of projection in his lean/wiry frame. He moves down the mound athletically with a drop/drive lower-half and minimal perceived effort, remaining in-line to the plate before firing from a clean/loose ¾ slot. His fastball worked in the 87-89 mph range, jumping out of his hand with life to the arm-side and spinning at an average of 2,291 RPM (T2440 RPM). His breaking ball plays off a sharp 1/7 plane, spinning at an average of 2,420 RPM, 68-69 mph. His final offering was a fading changeup at 76-78 mph, getting under it at times but thrown with near fastball arm-speed. 

(Jack Bauer - 6/8/22)

+ INF Kenny Perez (De LaSalle, 2024) was another big winner for the day, walking around with a bounce to his step and ultimately earning an invitation to the PBR Future Games. Defensively he is a savvy, confident defender, playing with sound, smooth actions and flare. He has soft, quick hands with a lightning quick exchange; feet are quick and allow him to take direct routes to ground balls.  His arm plays short and quick arm, also playing from multiple arm angles. Offensively, that same fluidity translates into the right-handed box where he has pre-pitch movement and an athletic, aggressive swing that is long through the zone. Perez is one of the top uncommitted infielders in the state.

(Kenny Perez - 6/8/22)


+ C Damon Brena (Niles West, 2023) was a standout catcher during the event. Brena possesses advanced tools behind the plate, boasting a strong arm, quick release, soft hands and agile movement. His best pop time was 1.85 with a velocity of 81 mph. Offensively, its a strong, repeatable swing that stays on-plane with controlled bat speed. Brena also hopped on the mound and sat 83-85 mph. 

+ Owen Young (Joliet West, 2024) put together a strong defensive workout with a low pop time recorded at 1.89. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound, compact catcher also ran a 7.28 and was on the barrel during his round of BP, showing strong hands with a 75% sweet spot percentage, via TrackMan.


+ INF Sohrab Rezaei (University of Chicago Laboratory, 2023) is a high-academic middle infielder who has one of the top all-around games of anyone in attendance. The right-handed hitter has a compact swing that is highly-repeatable with advanced hand/eye coordination and the ability to cover the whole plate. Rezaei moved gracefully on defense throughout his round. He has a quick first step and explodes to the ball, receiving the ball with soft quick hands and cradling into a strong throwing position. He releases the ball from a high ¾ slot while placing his throws accurately on the bag.

+ INF Colin Schmitke (Stevenson, 2023) impressed during the showcase defensively with soft/quick hands that give him a quality feel and look for the position. His hands work in unison with his quick feet which allow him to glide to the baseball. He pairs his defensive actions with and above-average arm, coming out of his hand with life, carry and accuracy (T87 mph). Offensively, the right-handed hitter hit with fluid rhythm, bat tip load and long, uphill path that looks to elevate the baseball with authority. Schmitke ran a 7.11 laser-timed 60.

+ Three infielders who displayed elite tools during the showcase were Jameson Martin (St. Laurence, 2024), James Love (Joliet West, 2024) and Jaden Obaldo (Crystal Lake Central, 2024). All three players showed an advanced skillset that translated into natural feel for the infield; all possessing soft hands, quick feet, and fluid rhythm. Martin has a strong/accurate arm and had a max velocity of 83 mph. Obaldo showed soft, quick hands and his arm reached up to 77mph across the diamond. Love has elite actions with fluid rhythm and timing, also showing advanced feel for the infield with soft hands and clean footwork. Love, who has been on the rise as of late, also took a polished round of BP with freedom in his hands and on-plane swing. 

+ INF Jonathan Fleaka (Lake Zurich, 2024), a UIC commit, has long had a potent right-handed bat, and showed much of the same at the event. Fleaka stays direct and flat through the zone with the ability to backspin the baseball with authority to all fields. Defensively, he played low to the ground, displaying soft/quick hands that pair with a strong arm. His hands and feet worked in unison, allowing him to show above-average feel for the infield.

+ INF Cj Deckinga (Minooka, 2025) was one of the more projectable prospects in attendance, sporting a 6-foot-3, 165-pound, long-levered, high-waisted frame. The right-handed hitter starts from a crouched setup, leg-lift timing trigger and loose, athletic hands with natural lift through the zone. Deckinga made a lot of hard gap-to-gap contact throughout his round. On the infield he has a quick arm topping out at 74 mph across the diamond. His footwork is clean and quick, allowing him to move with ease.

+ Another 2025 infielder from Minooka who profiles similar to Deckinga is INF Isaac Goddard, listed at a long, athletic, 5-foot-11, 150-pounds. Goddard has easy defensive actions with an arm that plays from multiple slots and tops at 78 mph across the diamond. Offensively, he has a fluid, smooth load and flashed explosiveness through the hitting zone at times. Also, ran his fastball up to 80.2 mph during his bullpen. Name to know in the 2025 class.

+ Yet another lean, upside infielder to keep tabs on from Minooka is Brayden Zilis (2025). Zilis is a smooth left-handed hitter with loose hands, fluid swing that is repeatable and consistently on time. Defensively, he plays light on his feet with rhythm and feel to his overall game. His arm plays loose and topped at 75 mph.  

+ Some of the top defensive actions on the day belonged to INF Julian Ashley-Friedman (Barrington, 2025). The 6-foot, 165-pound, well-proportioned infielder has quick feet and hands while playing with advanced rhythm and tempo. Friedman plays low to the ground with a bounce in his step and confident, soft hands while his arm topped at 79 mph across the infield. The right-handed hitter sits in a wide, quiet setup and lets the ball travel. Friedman has loose, easy hands with natural lift through the zone. One of the top 2025s in attendance. 

+ Another young infielder to follow is Theodore Greco (Lane Tech, 2025). Greco has a balanced, long swing and the ball has a tendency to jump off the barrel. He also showed clean footwork on the infield and his arm topped at 82 mph. 7.37 runner in the 60.

+ Purdue commit, James Novakovic (New Trier, 2024) was one of the top all-around prospects on the day. Novakovic has a calmness and polish to everything he does on the field starting with his presence in the left-handed batters box. Novakovic stays quiet and simple, routinely getting the barrel through the zone on time and making hard lifted contact to the pull-side gap while staying balanced throughout.  Novakovic has active bouncy feet on the infield while playing through the baseball in rhythm with clean, soft hands and polished glove-to-hand release. 


+ Two standout outfielders from the 2023 class were Charlie Dumo (Deerfield, 2023) and Vinnie Marvucic (Niles North, 2023), both showing loose arms with accurate arm strength. Dumo has life in his throws that registered a top of 87 mph, while Marvucic has a loose arm with carry on his throws, topping out at 81 mph. Dumo has a physical 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame and stays simple and quiet while creating easy bat strength and speed. Dumo routinely backspun baseballs with authority while staying flat through the zone. 

+ OF Samuel Chapman (Woodstock, 2024) continues to impress as a high end follow in the outfield and earned an invite to this year’s PBR Future Games. The smooth swinging outfielder has loose, athletic hands and keeps the barrel in the zone a long time while driving baseballs to all fields throughout his round of BP. In the outfield he has a strong arm (90 mph) that is accurate with looseness and life, pairing with quick feet and soft hands - also taking confident and direct routes to the ball. High-follow 2024 outfielder.

+ There is a lot to like with left/left OF Jalen House (Downers Grove South, 2024). The 5-foot-10, 165-pound, athletic outfielder started his day by running a 6.66 laser-timed 60, which led the event. He fits the profile of a top-of-the-order bat, starting spread and balanced. He stays short and compact to the baseball, staying within himself and spraying line-drive oriented contact to all fields. Defensively, he has loose, athletic actions with a short, quick arm that topped at 79 mph.


+ OF/RHP Nate George (Minooka, 2024) is a toolsy incoming junior who showed well in a number of areas at the event, starting with the second-best 60 time of the event; 6.70 laser-timed. At the plate, the right-handed hitter has an athletic, fast bat that he swings with controlled aggression. In the outfield he showed a short arm action and clean footwork with all kinds of life and carry topping out at 89 mph; his arm easily translates over to the mound as well - running his fastball up to 88 mph, sitting 84-87 mph throughout with jump and ride through the zone. 

+ RHP/3B Luke O’Keefe (Lake Central, 2025) is an athletic, two-way prospect at 6-foot, 175-pounds. On the mound his fastball worked in the 83-84 mph range, topping out at 85 mph from a clean over-the-top slot, producing tilt and ride at times. He went to a late fading changeup to pair off his fastball from a similar window, playing at 74-76 mph. To round out his three-pitch mix he went to a short 10/4 slider, 73-75 mph with bullet action. Positionally, his right-handed swing stood out as one to watch in the coming years. It's a fast, athletic swing with balance and rhythm throughout. The ball jumped off his bat differently than his peers. Defensively, he is a fundamentally-sound defender with a strong arm that topped at 81 mph (has been 84 in the past).


+ Three left-handed hitting infielders to follow are Jackson Smith (Providence Catholic, 2024), Joe Chiarelli (Downers Grove North, 2023) and Cooper Shalin (Glenbrook North, 2024). Smith is an above-average runner with a short, quick, barrel-controlled swing and he is comfortable staying inside the baseball and lining it the other way. Chiarelly has a compact, repeatable swing with a knack for the barrel and elevated, gap-to-gap contact. Shalin has a 5-foot-10, 163-pound, wiry strong frame and direct, simple swing that played on the barrel throughout his round. 

+ A bat that has steadily been on the rise this summer belongs to OF Jayden Malone (Metea Valley, 2023). Malone has a 5-foot-10, 180-pound, muscular, athletic frame and creates a lot of jump off the barrel thanks to elite hand speed; led the event in average hand speed at 26.9 mph. Malone recently showed well once again at the Illinois State Games, taking a number of quality at-bats and making some loud contact.

+ 6-foot-2, 205-pound, 1B Tomas Valincius (Baylor School (TN), 2024) is a left/left first baseman that transferred to Tennessee but has roots in Chicago. He also took a noteworthy round of BP, staying balanced, letting the ball travel with strong, easy hands and heavy barrel. Also, is an above-average defender at first base with a clean arm that plays well on the mound.

+ INF Nolan Simios (Joliet Catholic, 2025) is a 6-foot, 125-pound, long-limbed, right-handed hitter with loose levers that should project for much more to come down the road as he gains strength to his frame. The swing is athletic, plays with fluidity and he controls his levers well for his age and long frame.

+ Benjamin Mitchell (Harvest Christian) and Kaleb Navarro (De La Salle) are two 2025 right-handed hitting catchers who intrigued in their round of BP. Mitchell takes an aggressive swing with a big leg-kick trigger, bat speed and shows pull-side strength. Navarro has a short, quick swing and a line-drive, pull-side approach. 

+ 2024 Jake Parpet (Conant) is a do-it-all type of player/defender, who took defensive reps on the infield at the event. He moves clean and free on the infield showing a relaxed, smooth glove hand and clean releases with the ability to play on the move and throw from multiple slots (T82 mph). Offensively, he has a simple, quiet swing with some fluidity throughout. 7.17 runner in the 60. 

+ 2025 INF Dominic Holton (Notre Dame College Prep) has a simple, fluid, upside left-handed swing. Stands in the box with a presence and pre-pitch rhythm and his hands play loose and uphill through the zone. 

Some other 2024s who swung noteworthy bats were Nolan Girard (Glenbrook North), Kelvin Jones Jr. (Home School), Zachary Pyles (Warren), Justin Vera-Medina (Loyola Academy) and DaSaan Lee (Crete-Monee). 


+ Two incoming seniors that showed an impressive ability to spin the ball were Josh Katz (Lane Tech, 2023) and Hank Liss (Evanston, 2023). Katz, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound lean right-hander, ran his fastball up to 89 mph, sitting 87-88 mph with life through the zone, spinning at an average of 2,173 RPM. His spin really started to stand out on his breaking balls, with his slider averaging 2,546 RPM (72-75 mph) and his curveball averaging 2,633 RPM (70-73 mph). He also showed feel for a fading changeup that he was able to land for strikes, 78-80 mph. Liss on the other hand, came out firing fastballs in the 87-89 mph range, topping out at 90 mph with an average of 2,370 RPM. He showed two different breaking balls, and both featured plus spin; with his curveball averaging 2,733 RPM (70-72 mph) and his slider averaging 2,840 RPM (74-75 mph. To round out his arsenal, he went to a hard diving splitter at 77-78 mph.

+ Another big winner was RHP Aidan Hayse (Morris, 2024). The Tennessee commit showed an advanced repertoire with a true four-pitch mix. His fastball worked in the 87-88 mph range with life to the arm-side and sinking action. He showed feel for two distinctly different breaking balls; the first being a short 10/4 slider, acting as a cutter at times with late bite, 77-79 mph. His second breaking ball was a curveball with sharp 11/5 action, playing with depth at 74-77 mph. To fill out his mix he went to a late darting changeup, thrown with fastball intent and deception at 78-80 mph. 

+ RHP Trevor Rehnstrom (Glenbard East, 2024) was yet another right-hander that showed off a big arm with a knack for spinning the ball, running his fastball in the 84-86 mph range while averaging 2,352 RPM. His curveball also showed well above-average spin rates, averaging 2,466 RPM at 70-71 mph with sharp 11/5 shape and depth. His final offering was a straight changeup at 74-78 mph, fading slightly to the arm-side at times. 

+ RHP Luke Weber (Highland Park, 2024) is a 6-foot, 170-pound right-hander with a fluid-moving operation. He creates notable hip/shoulder separation at foot-strike to go along with his loose/flexible lower-half. He worked his fastball in the 85-86 mph range, playing with sinking action. His changeup dives late and hard to his arm-side at 79-81 mph, tugging to his glove-side at times but showing an overall feel for the zone. He also went to a tight slider at 75-76 mph, playing with short 10/4 shape and thrown for strikes. 

+ RHP Paul Svanascini (Notre Dame College Prep) was yet another 2024 right-hander that ran his fastball into the mid/upper 80s, sitting in the 85-86 mph range. His delivery works with high effort but he showed the ability to control his pitches as he went deeper into his pen. To pair off his fastball he went to two different breaking balls; with an 11/5 downer curveball at 71-72 mph, and a 10/4 slider that flashed depth at 74-75 mph. His final offering was a fading changeup thrown with intent, 77-79 mph. 

+ Daniel Willner (Deerfield, 2025) is a strong-bodied right-hander standing 5-foot-10, 175-pounds. His arm is quick and produced a fastball in the 82-84 mph range, topping out at 85 mph. His best secondary offering during his ‘pen was a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 67-72 mph, showing depth to the bottom of the zone. He also showed some feel for a changeup with slight fade, 72-73 mph.

+ Illinois State commit Cody Freitas (Bradley-Bourbonnias, 2025) looked like his usual self with yet another impressive pen. The 5-foot-11, 172-pound right-hander is highly athletic down the mound with a clean/quick arm. His fastball worked in the 86-87 mph range with life through the zone; also setting up a fading changeup that comes from a similar window, 80-82 mph. His third offering was a spike-curve that plays with short 11/5 shape, coming out firm with tight spin at 73-75 mph. 

+ RHP Cameron Armstrong (Providence Catholic, 2025) continues to show as one of the more clean-moving right-handers in the 2025 class. His delivery is clean, controlling tempo throughout into balance-point, dropping into his back-knee and gliding down the mound while remaining in-line to the plate, also creating notable hip/shoulder separation at foot-strike. His fastball worked in the 79-80 mph range, showing control over the zone while playing with some life to the arm-side. His changeup was his most impressive secondary offering, coming out at 74-75 mph with late/heavy fading action and feel. His breaking ball shows some promise as he is able to land it for strikes, playing off an 11/5 plane and flashing sharp action, 64-68 mph. 

+ LHP David Leung (Hinsdale Central, 2025) has some upside in his 6-foot, 170-pound frame. With a clean high ¾ slot, Leung showed a developing four-pitch mix that shows promise and pitchability. His fastball hovered in the 79-81 mph range, topping out at 82 mph with slight sinking action to his arm-side. He flashed a well-above average changeup with late fade and sink, thrown for strikes at 75-77 mph. He showed two different breaking balls throughout his pen; the first being a cutter/slider at 71-74 mph, playing with short 10/4 shape. The second breaking ball he showed was a sharp 1/7 curveball, playing with depth at 64-66 mph.