Prep Baseball Report

Weekend Recap: Aurora, Chicago & Libertyville Quick Hits

By Illinois Staff

The PBR Illinois team is coming off its busiest weekend of the winter in which we traveled across the Chicagoland area. On Saturday, we hosted our first-ever showcase at Aurora’s Sport Zone dome, with 140-plus prospects in attendance, and we doubled that number on Sunday with two events, the morning’s visit to the Pullman Community Center just south of Chicago, then back up to the Libertyville Sports Complex in the evening.

Typically, our staff collaborates to produce rapid analysis in the days following each individual event. Today, instead of individually rolling out those stories, we’re publishing our Quick Hits as one long-form piece. Below, you’ll find highlights from all three of last weekend’s events.

Stay tuned in tomorrow, Wednesday, when we publish the statistics gathered from each of the three showcases, too. In the coming weeks, we’ll have videos from these events posted and position-by-position scouting reports will soon follow.

For now, here are the best things we saw over the weekend.

Aurora Preseason I.D.


+ Oswego East has a pair of 2021 outfielders who showed well on Saturday, including Austin Miller, who will be a follow this spring. Miller uses twitchy levers to create bat speed from the right side that sprays the ball around the yard. He’s a line-drive, gap-to-gap approach guy with above-average actions with arm strength (up to 85 mph) in the outfield. Left-handed-hitting Camden Ruby took an aggressive round of BP pulling consistent hard contact out of his 6-foot, 165-pound frame. Ruby measured an 87 mph exit velocity and an 82 mph arm from the outfield. 

+ Left/left OF Payton Matthews (Neuqua Valley, 2021) ran one of the best 60-yard dash times, at 7.02, and looks to fit the part of a center fielder at the next level. 

+ At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, INF Quinton Schwartz (Jacobs, 2021) is a lean and projectable athlete who ran a 7.08 and showed an arm that played up on the infield, working loose and athletic at times with accuracy. His bat may be his best tool as a backspinning, line-drive hitter who works on top of the baseball from the right side while keeping his barrel in the zone.

+ Yorkville’s Douglas Burson (2021) is a physical presence at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, and he shows it well in the box. He’s a left-handed hitter with bat strength who registered an 88 mph exit velocity from the tee. A corner outfield-type prospect, Burson has a strong arm that showed carry out of a short quick arm action.


+ C Aidan O’Connell (St. Charles North, 2022) showed natural actions out of the crouch, posting one of the better pop times of the day. He features a short, over-the-top arm that is athletic and accurate. As a right-handed hitter, he showed a quick-twitch swing and an aggressive approach that works the middle of the field. 

+ Left-handed-hitting OF Corey Boyette (Romeoville, 2022) is a solid left-handed bat with a simple approach and short swing. Boyette gets hard line-drive contact to his pull-side and posted a top exit velocity of 89 mph. 

+ We learned of a trio of catchers to follow in the 2022 class: Ethan Rossi (Prospect), Ryan Caccia (St. Charles North), Matthew Tarr (West Aurora). Rossi is a follow behind the plate with an accurate arm and top pop time of 2.12. In the box, he swings off a flat right-handed plane that creates hard backspin contact, topping at 89 mph exit velocity from the tee. As for Caccia, he has an advanced arm for his age – topping out at 76 mph from behind the plate – and he posted a 2.10 best pop. His arm showed carry and he’s athletic out of the crouch, confirmed by his 7.07 60-yard dash. West Aurora’s Tarr showed an even bigger arm at 78 mph out of the crouch, and it plays efficiently with carry and some accuracy. He also has a simple, quiet approach as a right-handed hitter and posted a 92 mph exit velocity from the tee.

+ A projectable infielder to keep an eye on in the 2022 class is Camden Pick (Oswego). Pick demonstrated soft hands and athletic actions that played through the baseball. His arm showed well across the diamond, enough to stick on the left side, and he has a quiet, loose swing in the right-handed box. His 6-foot, 140-pound frame has a ton of room to go which may raise his stock even more.


+ Ryan Niedzwiedz (West Aurora, 2023) was one of the more intriguing freshman of the event. Niedzwiedz is an athletic left-handed-hitting infielder with an easy swing and athletic hands. He produced repeatable hard contact to his pull-side gap and his 94 mph exit velocity is plus for his age. Defensively, Niedzwiedz’s arm carried at 79 mph across the diamond and he showed projectable actions on the infield. 

+ Bloomington Central’s Nick Mardis (2023) is a high-follow bat in the freshman class. He’s strong – at 6-foot, 202 pounds – and that strength plays well off the bat. He’s a right-handed hitter with a flat path that’s able to create backspin. The ball jumped off the bat on Saturday and the freshman put up some of the better swing metrics of the day, too.

+ Andy Roman (Wheaton Academy, 2023) is an upside catching prospect at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. He’s already posting pop times in the 2.11-2.20 range and he possesses a strong arm and a loose, aggressive swing.


+ Unsigned senior Mason Kottmeyer (Kaneland, 2020) made a jump on the mound, sitting 88-89 mph with a lively fastball featuring late action, paired with an 11/5 curveball that he showed excellent feel for. Kottmeyer is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound projectable arm with a ton of upside at the next level. 

+ Another unsigned senior, LHP Jacob Rans (Rockford Chrisitan, 2020), made his first PBR showcase worth while. The senior southpaw sat 83-84 mph out of a high ¾ slot and strong 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. Rans showed a slider with serious potential at 76-78 mph that flashed depth.

+ Fellow lefty Jack Bruington (Plainfield South, 2021) is another junior to keep an eye on this spring. He has a quick arm from a high ¾ slot that sat 82-83 mph, topping at 84 mph, in Aurora.

+ Sophomore Jake Kohanzo (Barrington) is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher with a projectable arm. He has a lively fastball that finishes hard at 82-84 mph through the zone. 

+ Freshman RHP William Ho (Hinsdale Central) has shown our staff exceptional feel for his three-pitch repertoire in the past, and Saturday was no different. Ho showcase a fastball, slider, and changeup all with above average control for his age. His fastball shows run and sink action at 79-81 mph, topping at 82 mph.

+ Another freshman arm that came away from Aurora’s showcase as a need-to-know prospect is Marengo’s Christian Graves. Graves’ arm strength looks like a separator early, which helps him throw an easy fastball at 77-79 mph with solid feel for an 11/5 curveball and an even better changeup at 68-72 mph. He’s a 6-foot-1, 195-pound two-way player, though his best asset appears to be how his arm works on the mound.

+ A handful of 2021 pitchers showed above-average velocity at their age: Jacob Scharm (Naperville North), Charlie Brodell (New Trier), Christian Jensik (Oswego East) and Mason Telford (Streator) all touched 86 mph. Scharm and Jensik are both physical arm strength guys at 6-foot-4, 203 pounds and 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, respectively. Brodell is more of a projectable specimen at 6-foot-4, 183 pounds, and his arm works quick and his stock will rise as he refines his secondary stuff. And Telford may be the most polished of this bunch. He showed hard action in the hitting zone on multiple offerings, including a 71-73 mph 12/6 curveball that may be a future swing-and-miss pitch.

+ RHP Matthew Cruise (Seneca, 2022) stands 5-foot-11, 173-pounds and packs a well-above-average fastball for his age. Sitting 82-84 mph, it showed hard run while showcasing tight spin of a frisbee-type breaking ball. 

+ Jordan Scholl (Wheaton Warrenville South, 2022) works exclusively from the stretch, but the 6-foot-2, 160-pound righty is a high-ceiling arm that touched 81 mph while showing off a tight breaking ball that flashed late action. He’s a loose and whippy arm that looks to have more in the tank down the road and will be a follow for our staff.

Chicago Preseason I.D.


+ 3B Giacomo Fanizza (Lake Park, 2021) seemed to be on a mission during his round of batting practice. The physical, wide-shouldered, 6-foot-1, 190-pound, right-handed hitter does not get cheated at the plate and looked to damage the baseball on every swing. Fanizza has a fast bat, present bat strength, looks to lift the baseball and made consistent, loud contact to the pull side of the diamond. Fanizza also ran a 6.98 laser-timed 60 and has the hands and feet to stick on the infield. 

+ A physical switch-hitting 1B, Darryl Loyd III (Morgan Park, 2021), took one of the better BP rounds on the day and was equally as impressive from both sides of the plate. Loyd stands in the box with a purpose, routinely taking an aggressive swing that has present bat strength and speed while working gap-to-gap.

+ Another 1B who opened some eyes with his bat was Iyari Hill (Simeon, 2021). Hill has a strong, 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame with present twitch and whip in his right-handed swing that gets extension through contact and works gap-to-gap.


+ 2022 OF Brandon Rogers (Brother Rice) continues to prove he is one of the top uncommitted position players in the class. The multi-sport talent, ran an event-best 6.65 laser-timed 60, was 89 mph from the outfield, 92 mph off a tee and took one of the more complete, advanced rounds of BP of the event. Rogers plays with a confident, smooth demeanor and hits with fluid rhythm from the right-side of the plate. Rogers swings with intent, aggression, loose athletic hands and present bat speed which produced a lot of hard contact, especially to the pull-side gap. Defensively, he has the foot speed, actions and arm strength to play all three spots.

+ Illinois State commit, SS Shai Robinson (Homewood-Flossmoor, 2022), put together his most impressive showing to-date. Robinson took an advanced round of infield, showing easy, athletic actions, soft, sure-hands and clean release, all while playing with fluid rhythm. Robinson has a high-waisted, 5-foot-10, 160-pound upside frame, plenty of room for added muscle and a simple, line-drive approach from the right-side of the plate.

+ Another infielder with upside to his game is long-limbed, 6-foot-2, 147-pound, Drew Horne (Fenwick, 2022). Horne has an athletic look in the box, has a quiet swing that works long and uphill through the zone with fluid rhythm and gap-to-gap approach. Defensively, he could profile at third base with added weight to his frame. Horne has steady hands that play best when he works below the baseball and athletic actions. His lanky limbs also helped him catapult fastballs into the zone at 79-80 mph, topping 81.

+ Infielders and brothers INF Gunnar (2022) and Gannon Howes (2023), from Hanover Central, emerged as follows in their respective classes and we’ll alert our PBR Indiana colleagues of their performances on Sunday. Gunnar has a quiet right-handed swing, controls the barrel, sprayed balls to all fields and took a clean round of defense on the infield. Gannon has a very similar swing, except from the left-side of the plate. Gannon stays within himself, short to the ball, with feel for the barrel and a line-drive approach. 


+ The deepest position group on the day was arguably the crop of catchers: Jorge Garcia (Chicago Bulls College Prep, 2021), Benji Ries (Stevenson, 2021), Cristian Santiago (Mundelein, 2021), Aaron Barrera (Lakeview, 2021), Kyree Alexander (Thornwood, 2022), Colin Leslie (University of Chicago Laboratory School, 2022), Colin Horneman (Mount Carmel, 2022) and AJ Gaca (St. Charles East, 2022) each established themselves as prospects to continue to know and follow this spring and beyond.

Garcia has quick, athletic hands and he made consistent hard contact at the plate and showed a highly-accurate arm from behind the plate with pop times ranging from 2.12-2.18.

Ries’ calling card is his physical right-handed bat. The 6-foot, 185-pound, strong-bodied catcher has strong, fast hands with present bat speed, length through the zone and he made consistent, hard gap-to-gap contact.

Mundelein’s Santiago has a quiet, fluid, repeatable right-handed swing with a flat path that gets extension through contact. He’s an athlete behind the plate with soft hands that should allow him to stick behind the dish moving forward.

From Lakeview, Barrera recorded top velocity at the event, at 76 mph from the crouch, with athletic, clean actions and fluid footwork. At the plate, he has an aggressive left-handed swing, and he stays short to the ball, capable of spraying the ball around the yard. 

The sophomore Alexander is highly-athletic behind the plate, with advanced flexibility and bounce behind the plate. The Thornwood backstop comes out of the crouch quick, clean, and had a low pop time of 2.06. At the plate, he has twitchy, quick hands and generates sneaky bat speed, given his lean/thin 5-foot-6, 140-pound frame. Alexander also ran a 7.25 in the 60 and has the ability to play on the infield as well.

Leslie has a 5-foot-8, 140-pound, loose body and plays under control with easy actions from behind the plate and on the infield. At the plate he has a simple, easy swing, utilizing his loose levers and he stays on top of the baseball. At the Pullman Center, he presented himself as an upside, multi-positional prospect to follow moving forward. 

Mount Carmel’s Horneman looks the part behind the plate with clean, athletic ations, soft hands and is directional out of the chute. Offensively, he has a quiet, upside right-handed swing with fluid rhythm and loose hands. 

Like Ries, mentioned above, Gaca’s calling card is a strong, physical right-handed bat. Gaca (5-foot-11, 200-pounds) swings with aggression and intent, looking to drive the baseball to the pull-side with authority.


+ LHP Vince Waterman (Homewood Flossmoor, 2023) put his name squarely in the mix of top freshman left-handed arms in the state. The southpaw has a clean, quick arm and sat an easy 80-81 mph with above-average feel of all three pitches for his age. Waterman mixes in a 66-68 mph curveball and a 73-75 mph changeup. 

+ Marty Boyle (St. Ignatius, 2021) is a left/left two-way player who looks to project best on the mound. He showed considerable feel for both secondary pitches, a curveball and changeup, with his change showing the most conviction. His fastball sits 81-83 mph while showing slight arm-side run. Boyle is also more than capable as a position player as well. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound, left-handed hitter has a confident, relaxed look in the box with loose hands, easy effort and stays within himself. Defensively, he has natural outfield actions, plays through the ball in rhythm and has a loose, clean, accurate arm. 

+ The firmest fastball on the day belonged to RHP Nick Walczak (Maine South). Walczak has a highly-projectable 6-foot-4, 175-pound frame, quick, loose arm action from a high ¾ slot and sat 83-85 mph. Walczak paired it with a sharp, tight slider with sweeping action that was up to 85 mph. 



+ One of the biggest winners of the recent Preseason All-State, RHP Tyler Conklin (Kaneland, 2021), lit up the stat sheet as a position player, earning a follow as a two-way prospect moving forward. Conklin, continued to show off his elite arm strength, topping at 94 mph across the diamond, while he also ran a 7.13 laser-timed mark in the 60, and topped the exit velocity leaderboard with a 96 mph high from the tee. Conklin’s athleticism and arm strength make him one of the more intriguing uncommitted prospects in the state’s 2021 class.

+ One of the smoothest defensive infielders on the day was uncommitted 2021 MIF Ethan Andrews (Antioch). Andrews has confident, soft hands, fields out in front of his body, with natural infield actions and turns an athletic double play. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound, right-handed hitter has all the tools to stick up the middle. 

+ Libertyville RHP/OF Brady Wells (2021; uncommitted) has made a big jump in velocity in a year’s time. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound, right-hander has added 20 pounds to his frame and touched 89 mph on Sunday evening, six ticks harder than last winter. The ball comes out of Wells’ hand clean and easy, and with continued development of his secondaries he could turn himself into a high-follow in the 2021 class. Wells’ added strength also played at the plate where the ball jumps off his right-handed bat, while his arm topped 87 mph from the outfield.

Joseph Crum (Springfield) and Alexander Carruthers (Warren) are two upside junior right-handed pitchers to watch closely moving forward. Crum is a 6-foot-1, 168-pound strike-thrower who was one of the main arms for Springfield last spring and hw sat 78-79 mph, touching 80, last summer. Crum has clearly added strength since then and on Sunday the talented right-hander sat 85-87 mph. Carruthers made a statement at his first-ever PBR event. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound, two-way prospect showed off his arm strength first in the outfield where he topped at 90 mph. He then got on the mound, showing a loose, quick arm and pounded the zone with an 84-85 mph fastball with arm-side run. Carruthers also showed some feel for a low-70s curveball that flashed sharp action at times. At the plate, Carruthers has twitchy levers that stay flat through the zone and he made a lot of hard line-drive contact.


+ PBR event first-timer, MIF Casey Hintz (Saint Viator; uncommitted), came away as arguably the biggest winner of the event and he placed himself firmly on the board as a high-follow 2022 in Illinois. Hintz has a wiry, upside, 5-foot-9, 130-pound frame, and is a natural, quick defender up the middle with loose, athletic actions, easy range, soft hands and advanced glove-to-hand skills. His arm plays short and loose from multiple slots with plenty of arm strength (84 mph) to stick at shortstop. At the plate, he has a wide base, simple swing, with minimal wasted movement and loose levers that create whip through the zone.

+ One of the more well-rounded catchers in attendance was Brandon Hanley (Huntley, 2022). Hanley has an athletic 6-foot, 170-pound frame and actions behind the plate. His hands play soft, quiet, and he is fluid and directional out of the crouch. Hanley throws a true ball from a prototypical catchers arm action; short and over the top. At the plate, he has a confident look in the box with fluid rhythm, a level path from a pull-side approach. 

+ When looking at position players, Libertyville featured two left-handed-hitting sophomore outfielders to keep an eye on: Brenden Max and Ryan Thrawl. Max has a well-proportioned 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame with a simple, easy, repeatable swing that features athletic hands and fluid rhythm throughout. Thrawl has a 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame with a strong, physical lower half. Thrawl’s present bat strength (87 mph exit velocity) on a flat swing path helped him make a bunch of hard contact up the middle of the diamond.

+ Another prospect with two-way upside coming out of Sunday night’s showcase was Kyle Kaempf (McHenry, 2022). Kaempf is a 6-foot-1, 150-pound, long-limbed, projectable infielder that plays fast while maintaining body control on the move. His hands are soft with a clean release and arm that plays loose and easy across at 83 mph. At the plate he has a spread setup, simple approach, flat path and consistently finds the barrel. On the mound, he has made a big jump in velocity, topping at 85 mph (up from 78 mph in January of 2019). Despite working with effort on the mound, Kaempf has a lively arm worth following moving forward.


+ Mundelein has a few freshman follows moving forward: Bennett Musser, Ryan Geraghty and Christopher Callas. Musser has an athletic, high-waisted 5-foot-11, 150-pound frame, and he showed twitch and aggressiveness from the right side of the plate, though his calling may be on the mound. Musser has loose, upside arm action from a low slot and sat 79-80 mph, touching 81 with much more in the tank. He also flashed a sharp breaking ball with tight spin and feel for the zone. Geraghty, has an athletic 5-foot-11, 162-pound frame and like Musser, impressed with his right-handed bat, as well as on the mound. At the plate, Geraghty stays short to the zone and flat through it, controls the barrel and made a lot of hard line-drive contact. On the mound his arm works loose, whippy, and the fastball jumped out of the hand at 78-81 mph, touching 82. He also flashed two offspeed offerings with swing-and-miss potential. Lastly, Callas has a physical, 6-foot-2, 220-pound, big-bodied frame and is an overall strike-thrower who sat 78-79 mph, touching 81 twice.

+ A couple of other 2023 arms to follow from Sunday are RHPs Michael Scarpelli (Libertyville) and Cole Clark (Warren). Scarpelli has a young look and upside 6-foot-1, 160-pound build. Scarpelli has an athletic, loose arm and his fastball sat a relatively easy 79-80 mph with plenty more velocity to come. The Libertyville right-hander also spun a sharp, tight curveball on an 11/5 plane with fastball arm speed and feel. Clark has a sturdy, strong frame that produced a fastball up to 83 mph. Clark also threw both his offspeed pitches with aggression, including a slider with 10/4 shape and a short, late wrinkle.