Prep Baseball Report

Illinois Signing Day: Missouri Valley Outlook

By: Peter Hamot, Gavin Smith and Tyler Defibaugh
Illinois Staff

On Nov. 8, 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’ve already broken down a handful of these conferences, and you can find those, below:

BIG 10
BIG 12

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


The Braves grabbed an intriguing duo from within the state in INF Jackson Smith (Providence Catholic) and RHP Joshua Vaughn (Illini Bluffs). 

Smith is a proven in-game performer, earning Prep Baseball Third Team All-State honors this past spring as he hit his way to a .511 clip with 15 doubles, three home runs, 28 RBIs and 44 runs scored. A spark plug for one of the more talented teams in the state, the left-handed hitter has feel for the barrel with some twitch in his stroke, still holding room for added strength as he’s listed at 6-foot, 175-pounds. He’s also an above-average runner at 6.84 in the 60 to pair with fluid actions on the infield. 

(Jackson Smith)

Bradley didn’t have to go far to find Vaughn from Illini Bluffs, as their campuses are only about 16 miles from each other. Vaughn exploded onto our radar this past spring, seemingly dominating every time he toed the rubber; highlighted by a two-hit, 20 strikeout performance that was included within our Week 8 Diamond Notes. The right-hander can bump his fastball up to 90 mph from a loose, whippy arm; pounding the zone consistently with the offering to set up a slider/changeup combination. 

(Joshua Vaughn)


The Aces have won over 30 games each of their last two seasons, also making a deep run in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last year. They will look to keep their success rolling, adding a trio of quality prospects in INF Mason McCue (Bishop McNamara), OF Ryan Seddon (St. Laurence) and RHP Luc Lawler (Benet).

McCue will be a nice addition to the Aces when he makes it to campus. Showing well over the winter on our showcase circuit, as well as over the summer at The Rock, the left-handed hitter has quality bat-to-ball skills that pair with quick and athletic hands, creating some jump off the barrel. 

(Mason McCue)

Seddon had a successful summer circuit, and he has a strong set of tools to pair with his on-field success. He’s a 6.70 runner in the 60 that pairs with a smooth left-handed stroke, creating exit velocities in the mid-90s. He’ll look to be a key part in the lineup for the Vikings of St. Laurence this coming spring.

One of the more recent commits to the Aces from Illinois, Lucas Lawler looks to be a nice addition to Evansville’s slew of arms. Listed at 6-foot, 180-pounds with some strength throughout, the right-hander sits comfortably in the mid-80s and can reach into the upper-80s with carry through the zone. To round out his arsenal, he goes to a gyro type slider with 10/4 action and heavy fading changeup. 

(Lucas Lawler)


The Flames joined the Missouri Valley conference last season, amassing a 28-25 record and winning 13 conference games. They signed five in-state prospects to their 2024 recruiting class, continuing their trend of home-grown success.  

The Flames signed a pair of state champions out of Nazareth Academy in INF/RHP David Cox and LHP Luca Fiore, who will both be looking to add a third consecutive state title this spring to end their high school careers. 

Cox stands in at 6-foot-4, 200-pounds with present strength throughout. The 2022 Future Games participant was a catalyst for the Roadrunners’ 2023 title-run on both sides of the ball. From the right side, Cox has a hitterish presence about him in the box paired with an aggressive swing that led to a .396 batting average, 28 runs batted in, and three homers last spring. Cox has also been known to be a smooth mover on the infield for his frame paired with a strong arm. On the bump, he provides additional intrigue as a two-way prospect with a fastball that sits in the 87-88 mph range, mixing in a sinker in the same range. He also goes to a short slider and a changeup with sink that kills spin for his off-speed offerings.

(David Cox)  

Fiore is another intriguing get for the Flames. He has a loose arm and operation, creating a fastball up to 87 mph with carry and run to his arm-side. He has confidence in a slider that spins consistently around 2,400 RPM, playing with 10/4 action that can collect swing and miss. He also has made noticeable strides with his changeup, playing clean out of the hand with fade to the bottom of the zone.

(Luca Fiore)

Currently ranked No. 24 in the state, RHP Ethan Dorchies (Cary Grove) is fresh off an impressive 2023 circuit where he posted a 0.78 ERA in the spring; punching out 71 batters over 55.2 IP. Dorchies is a long-limbed 6-foot-5, 205-pound fluid mover that sits in the upper 80’s with his fastball, touching 90 mph with running-action. He also has feel for a sweeping curveball that displays sharp bite, and a splitter with sharp depth that kills spin to work as secondary offerings. 

(Ethan Dorchies) 

INF Jonathan Fleaka (Lake Zurich) has consistently hit in front of our staff throughout his prep career, cementing himself as one of the top right-handed bats in the IL 2024 class. He consistently stays on top of the baseball and on the barrel, staying flat through the zone while routinely making hard contact. He can also hold his own on the infield, flashing sneaky range with sure-handed actions to pair. 

(Jonathan Fleaka)

CIF Jake Troyner (Joliet Catholic) helped lead the Hilltoppers to consecutive state titles, and this past season he led the team in a couple categories; batting average (.442) and doubles (11). Troyner stands in a 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame with plenty of upside still to come, looking like a potential middle-of-the-order bat when he’s fully developed. A left-handed hitter at the plate, he has a fluid and easy swing, and he’s shown the ability to use the whole field. He kept his success rolling deep into the summer, particularly at the Illinois State Games in August, going 3-for-6 with a home run, double and two RBIs in game play. 

(Jake Troyner) 

OF Dominic Catalano (Montini) stands in a strong 6-foot, 175-pound frame. From the left side of the plate, Catalano has an easy, flat path with athletic hands and an accurate barrel. He’s posted a 95 mph max exit velocity, while averaging in the mid/upper 80s. A 6.96 runner, Catalano’s athleticism translates to the outfield where he has fluid footwork and accurate routes. He has steady hands with a quality arm and has shown the ability to consistently put the ball on the bag.

(Dominic Catalano)  

Illinois State 

To no one’s surprise, the Redbirds were a dominant force on the Illinois recruiting circuit, grabbing RHP’s Luke Teschke (Monticello) and Michael Umbright (Naperville Central) - as well as INF AJ Weller (Geneseo).  

Currently ranked No. 16 in the state, Teschke is an upside arm that has the chance to make an impact for the Redbirds early in his collegiate career. He has a power fastball that can reach up to 92 mph, showing the ability to miss barrels consistently in the zone. He pairs it with a dynamic slider/curveball combination and changeup to mix up the pace. Listed at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds with a lean/projectable build, it’s more than likely we have yet to see Teschke at his ceiling. 

(Luke Teschke)  

Staying on the topic of right-handers with high ceilings, Umbright has been making tremendous strides over the last year and is likely not slowing down any time soon. We saw him up to 90 mph this past spring, which was four mph higher than he was the previous year, and his clean movement patterns and strength indicate a chance for his velocity to continue to trend up. He’s nothing to scoff at on the other side of the ball either, wielding a physical right-handed bat with proven in-game success.

(Michael Umbright)  

Weller recently signed with the Redbirds as well, and he’s a quality prospect from the Quad City area. A 5-foot-10, 170-pound infielder, he has a knack for the barrel from the left-handed batter’s box. He’s also an above-average defender on the infield with athletic actions to pair with feel for the position. 

Murray State

Murray State has been a strong addition to the Missouri Valley, joining the conference in July of 2022. They have won 30 or more games in each season since the 2021 season, and have been a consistent presence in the Illinois recruiting circuit for some time now, most recently grabbing LHP Jackson Ugo (Andrew). 

Ugo provides a tough look from the left side, working his fastball into the upper-80s with carry and life to his arm-side. He has shown the ability to pound the zone with his fastball, manipulating the action between ride and run. To pair off his fastball he goes to a low-70s curveball (T2300 RPM) and fading changeup with over 13” of run at times. 

(Jackson Ugo) 


Valpo grabbed a trio of prospects from Illinois in RHP Nick Baffa (Notre Dame College Prep), OF Michael Kuska (Pontiac) and INF Bryan Hatch (St. Viator).  

Baffa, a former Future Gamer, is a fun arm to watch with his mature pitchability and ability to mess with a hitter’s timing. He’ll often speed up or delay his delivery to fool hitters, which makes his upper-80s fastball that much more effective. He has also shown above-average feel for an 11/5 curveball and fading changeup to fill out his arsenal. The Beacon’s should also be excited about the upside Baffa possesses, listed at 6-foot-1, 155-pounds with loose limbs and a lean build, there looks to still be plenty to tap into with the right-hander. 

(Nick Baffa) 

Moving over to the outfield, Kuska is a L/L prospect that has shown well in front of our staff on a number of occasions. The left-handed hitter has a direct path to the ball, showing the ability to control the barrel with a line-drive approach while taking the ball where it is pitched. As a 6.83 runner in the 60, he has plenty of speed to patrol the outfield at the next level, and his 86 mph max velocity from a crow hop should likely tick up as he makes it onto campus as well. 

(Michael Kuska)  

Rounding out the Beacon’s Illinois recruiting class is the aforementioned Bryan Hatch. Listed at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, Hatch has all sorts of physicality throughout his frame with round shoulders and a developed lower-half to pair. The right-handed hitter has a perceived low-effort stroke with easy power off the bat, working flat through the zone and creating extension through contact. He moves well for his size at a 7.15 in the 60, and he has defensive versatility around the infield with steady actions and soft hands. 

(Bryan Hatch)

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