Prep Baseball Report

Illinois Signing Day: ACC Outlook

By: Gavin Smith and Peter Hamot
Illinois Staff

On Wednesday, November 8th, thousands of high school baseball players across the country signed their National Letters of Intent to lock in their official commitments to their respective schools, with hundreds of these signings hailing from Illinois.

Over the next few weeks, we will spend some time highlighting the names from Illinois that signed their NLI to play baseball at the Division I level. We’ll do so by breaking these names up by conference, starting with the BIG 10 which you can find HERE.

Today, we'll be looking at the players from Illinois that signed to play at schools in the ACC with videos, scouting reports and more, below. 


Louisville has been a steady presence in the recruiting circuit within Illinois for some time. This year was no different for the Cardinals as they continued to show their strong presence in the Land of Lincoln, landing four of the top prospects in the state. 

They’re set to bring aboard two top-10 players in the state in OF Cole Crafton (Lincoln-Way West) and C Collin Mowry (Lincoln-Way Central). 

Crafton, the No. 3 player in the state, is an uber-athletic multi-sport prospect that recently set his focus to baseball. He fills out the uniform with his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, and still looks to have room for added strength in the coming years. His hands work well throughout his left-handed stroke, showing strength and creating separation with raw power to dream on. He has fluid, athletic actions in the outfield with range and a strong, accurate arm. All things considered, it would seem Crafton is only just starting to tap into his potential. 

(Cole Crafton)

Mowry is another intriguing get for Louisville, currently slotted at No. 8 in the state. He has defensive versatility, showing well in front of our staff both on the infield and behind the plate. There’s present strength in his right-handed stroke, staying simple while showcasing the ability to lift the baseball with intent to his pull-side. He had a helium summer and fall circuit, routinely punishing baseballs and further raising his stock as a top prospect within Illinois.  

Since being a future gamer in 2022, LHP Ethan Eberle (Normal Community) has been nothing short of dominant. Last spring for the Ironmen, Eberle worked 52 innings on the mound, struck out 105 and only allowed two runs all season, finishing a perfect 8-0. His ability to attack the strike zone with three above-average pitches is what continues to challenge hitters each time they step in the box. His fastball works in the mid-80s, having been up to 88 mph in our looks with heavy sink. He has confidence in his sweeping slider, which he throws often to put hitters away, sitting in the low-70s - and his low-80s changeup keeps hitters off-balanced while showing arm-side run. 

(Ethan Eberle)

Louisville is no stranger to winning, and neither is INF/RHP Nick Drtina (Nazareth). The back-to-back state champion brings an intriguing two-way skillset to the table with a mid/upper 80s fastball and loud left-handed bat. His ability with the bat is highlighted by wiry strength with present bat-speed, working a direct and repeatable stroke to the ball with above-average feel for the barrel. Drtina played a large role in Nazareth’s state titles, also going on to earn ESCC All-Conference recognition at the conclusion of the season - as well as PBR Illinois Second Team All-State the season prior. 

(Nick Drtina)

North Carolina

The Tar Heels landed LHP John Hughes (Nazareth) early in his prep career, and despite dealing with some injuries, battled back to help his team to their second consecutive state title this past spring. The southpaw has an upper-80s fastball to pair with a curveball/slider combination, and rounds out his repertoire with a deceptive changeup. One of the things that stands out about Hughes is his above-average pitchability, and knack for pounding the zone with all of his offerings.  

(John Hughes) 

Notre Dame 

Since the 2020-2021 season, the Fighting Irish have won 30 games or more in each of those seasons, and now they’re bringing on two of the state's top prospects in OF Brendan Tunink (Newman Central Catholic) and MIF Charlie Vercruysse (Normal University). 

Tunink has some of the loudest tools in the class with plenty of athleticism and lean strength throughout. He seemingly gets stronger every time we see him, currently standing at 6-foot, 180-pounds. The former future gamer has a smooth left-handed swing that generates easy power to all fields, showing the potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat that will produce runs for the Fighting Irish. He’s also a 6.64 runner with the traits of a quality defender in the outfield. 

(Brendan Tunink) 

Vercruysse stands in a hard-to-miss frame at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with athleticism throughout. There’s a ton to like about the ceiling of Vercruysse who is a high-level defender with a strong arm (T92 mph) to pair. He has a fluid right-handed swing that’s simple and controlled through contact, and he’s shown the ability to repeat for hard, line-drive contact. As Vercruysse continues to add strength to his frame, he’s sure to be a force to reckon with at the next level.

(Charlie Vercruysse)

Wake Forest  

The Demon Decons have been a force on the collegiate baseball scene as of late, recording 54 wins a season ago and 41 wins the season before. One of their cornerstones has been their ability to pitch, and they are adding a big arm in RHP Ryan Sloan (York) to their stable. Currently the No. 1 player in Illinois, No. 10 nationally, Sloan is no stranger to the national stage. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound fireballer took part in the first ever Prep Baseball All-American Game this past September - along with numerous other high-level events on his resume. He has one of the more electric arsenals in the country with a fastball up to 96 mph (T2600+ RPM), wipeout slider (T2600+ RPM), and dancing changeup that all have the innate ability to miss barrels. He’s an easy/athletic mover with the ability to land all three offerings for strikes, and with much more in the tank, he’s headed to the right place to tap into his elite potential. 

(Ryan Sloan)

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