Prep Baseball Report

Chicago Preseason ID: Quick Hits

By: Drew Locascio and Pete Hamot
Illinois Staff

On Feb. 18, the Prep Baseball Illinois staff traveled to the Pullman Community Center in Chicago to host the Chicago Preseason ID. This event provided us an ample opportunity to check in on some of the area’s top high school prospects and identify several new names to know as we prepare for the IHSA season, as well as future invite-only events on the Prep Baseball Illinois calendar.

Now, at the event’s conclusion, our staff will begin the post-event process by highlighting some of the day’s standouts in this Quick Hits piece. 

Here are a few names that caught our attention from this past Saturday’s event.

Position Players  

+ INF Israel Rodriguez (Taft, 2026) will be a name to follow moving forward. He’s made some noticeable strides in his game since our last look a year ago, adding about 10 mph for his max EV which now sits at 90.8 mph, he also has impressive power for his size, recording the second farthest hit ball of the day at 338’. The right-handed hitter displayed a flat path with loose wrists throughout his round, creating some extension out front while staying through the zone, working on the barrel up the middle of the field with line-drives and elevated contact. Defensively, he has fluid actions and soft hands, playing low and through the ball with rhythm/timing.  

+ Showing well in his Prep Baseball showcase debut was 1B Brock Hamilton (Homewood-Flossmoor, 2028). Not even in high school yet, the strong-bodied 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect has an intimidating and large frame, especially for his age, and there looks to still be room to add on strength in the future. The right-handed hitter showed off some of his power potential, reaching up to 90 mph for his max EV with a max distance of 324’, consistently looking to elevate up the middle of the field. He took an impressive round of defense at first base, displaying soft hands and clear feel for the position, moving especially well for his size around the bag.  

+ C Liam Moroney (Oak Park-River Forest, 2026) gave an upside look over the weekend. He’s listed at 5-foot-11, 165-pounds with evenly proportioned weight and room to add on strength in the coming years. The right-handed hitter displayed loose hands throughout his round, working with some rhythm into a flat path while creating extension out front at times, reaching up to 90.5 mph for his max EV. Quality defender behind the plate with a clean glove-to-hand transfer, working in-line with second to create a pop-time as low as 2.16 seconds (T77 mph).  

+ C Ellis Alexander (Jones College Prep, 2025) is an uncommitted backstop from Sunday’s event that deserves a mention. He has a strong-bodied, 5-foot-10, 188-pound frame with round shoulders and strength throughout, durable catcher’s build. He has a noticeable motor, even in a showcase setting, and he caught our staff’s eye defensively throughout the day; receiving well in ‘pens and acting as an active/willing blocker, deadening the ball out front. He has a clean glove to hand transfer, working in-line to second to create a pop-time as low as 2.08 seconds. The right-handed hitter displayed strong hands at the plate, working with a flat path with intent to keep the ball on a line up the middle.  

+ OF Jazarris Mackmore Jr (Marian Catholic, 2027) stands out physically with his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, high waist with some present strength in his lower-half, still has plenty of room to develop physically. The right-handed hitter put together one of the louder rounds of BP on the day, registering a max EV of 94 mph, third highest in attendance - also delivering the third farthest hit ball of the day at 337’. 


+ OF/RHP Matthew Jackson (Prospect, 2026) gave one of the better all-around looks on the entire day. Listed at a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, Jackson has a strong build with noticeable strength throughout and round/sloped shoulders. He started his day by running to a 7.15 in the 60 on a notoriously slow track. At the plate, the right-handed hitter works with strong hands and a quick, flat barrel through the zone, looking to keep the ball on a line and working consistently on the barrel up the middle, leading the event with both max EV (T98 mph) and average EV (90.9 mph). Defensively, Jackson attacks the baseball with steady hands, moving into a powerful crow hop and reaching up to 91 mph from the outfield. On the mound, the right-hander impressed with a fastball up to 85 mph, pairing with a short horizontal slider at 72-74 mph and also featuring above-average feel in a low-70s changeup. Intriguing, toolsy athlete to follow moving forward.  

+ Another sophomore from Prospect High School that had a loud showing on Sunday was INF/RHP Logan Nordentoft. There’s still plenty of room to add on strength to his high-waisted 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame, and he possesses some present athleticism and upside. The right-handed hitter has loose hands that look to stay on top of the baseball and use the whole field, giving a polished look throughout his round of BP with a max exit velocity of 95 mph. He’s an athletic defender on the infield, boasting fluid actions and smooth hands, moving well to both slides of his glove with feel and rhythm, also a 7.13 runner in the 60. His arm plays from a long ¾ release, playing with life across the diamond and topping out at 85 mph. His arm-strength easily translated over to the mound, where he ran his fastball up to 86 mph to complement a mid-60s curveball and mid-70s changeup with late/heavy run.  

+ INF Lucas Espinosa (Taft, 2026) was an intriguing switch-hitting prospect over the weekend. He displayed a loose stroke from both sides, working with athletic hands and a balanced finish, appearing more natural from the left side with a polished feel to hit and whole-field approach. He’s a quality defender on the infield as well, working with steady hands and a clean glove to hand operation, ranging well to both sides of his glove with a quick first step. He displayed a true three-pitch mix on the mound, working his fastball up to 80 mph to pair with an 11/5 curveball at 63-64 mph and changeup at 72-74 mph, thrown with confidence and advanced action for his age.  

+ 1B/RHP Christian Lott (Simeon, 2026) is a strong-bodied sophomore who showed well in a couple different aspects on Sunday. The right-handed hitter displayed easy power at the plate, reaching up to 91.9 mph with a max EV of 334’. He’s also a quality defender at first base, displaying steady hands with some feel around the bag. On the mound, the big right-hander has a smooth and easy tempo, delivering his hardest fastball at 80 mph to pair off a tight 12/6 curveball and deceptive changeup with tilt and feel for the zone. 


+ RHP Jack Gianikos (Maine South, 2026) stands out immediately thanks to his long-levered, highly-projectable, 6-foot-3, 180-pound, loose-bodied frame. The arm plays loose and quick from a ¾ slot and the fastball seemed to play harder than the velo indicated (83-84.2 mph). He currently throws a curveball and a slider with the slider showing better feel and action on this day at 68-70.8 mph; plays with sweeping 10/4 shape and peaked at 2,394 rpm. His changeup was also a quality offering playing at the bottom of the zone with sink and run. Could easily see the velocity jump at any time for the upside 2026 arm. 

+ Nathan Cera was another 2026 right-handed arm to know from Maine South. Cera has a loose, quick arm as well that plays from a lower slot. The 6-foot, 150-pound, right-hander has intent to work at the bottom of the zone with a low-80s fastball (T83) with late running action. He also mixed in an upper 70’s sinker with noticeably more run and sink while averaging 16.2 inches of horizontal movement. His slider plays with above-average spin at T2,433 rpm, average 2,388 and late horizontal action. The changeup rounds out the four-pitch repertoire. 

+ RHP Cooper Johnson (Lincoln-Way East, 2027) is a young arm to keep an eye on down the road. Johnson's arm works compact and clean from an over-the-top slot with the makings of a three-pitch repertoire. His fastball topped at 81 mph and his curveball plays with the correct shape while his changeup was his best offering on this day. He threw it with conviction and when he stays on top and behind it, it flashed well above-average action at the bottom of the zone. The entire arsenal has a ways to go but there is a foundation to work with. 

+ RHP Renzo Sansonetti (Jones College Prep, 2026) was the first arm of the day and ran his fastball up to 85.3 mph, second-firmest on the day. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound, right-hander has a loose, compact arm action and paired his late jumping fastball with a slider at 73-74 mph with late 10/4 shape. The slider spun at an average of 2318 rpm and should be a go-to offering moving forward.

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