Prep Baseball Report

Inside the Illinois 2026 Rankings: Names To Know

By Illinois Scouting Staff

The initial 2026 rankings in Illinois have been released with a modest top-five prospects in the class. We know it is still extremely early to be forecasting 2026 prospects, however with the acceleration of recruiting over the years, high-level 2026 prospects are already making verbal commitments. With that being said, we have been able to get our eyes on a number of quality 2026 prospects over the last year, or more. 

Below is a look at a number of freshman names to know moving forward, despite them missing out on one of the top-five initial spots. All of the prospects below have made a name for themselves in front of us at a PBR showcase, tournament or at the PBR Junior Future Games. 

Read on below at a strong crop of freshman soon to be making their way through the high school ranks and impacting varsity clubs sooner rather than later.


Colton Benaitis C / 3B / Lockport, IL / 2026

Team Illinois 1 was dealt a 5-0 loss in game three to Team Alabama, which was shortened by rain. Benaitis started the game on the mound and pounded the strike zone with fastballs and curveballs. However, Benaitis’ strengths are when a bat is in his hands. As a hitter he is a high-follow, Benaitis consistently barreled baseballs all week long, coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit. It doesn’t matter if the pitcher is throwing 85 or 65 mph, Benaitis’ timing and barrel awareness shows up in every at bat. He has a short quick, repeatable swing, he uses all fields and has a keen ability to make in at-bat adjustments. 

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Antonio Brown Jr RHP / OF / Homewood Flossmoor , IL / 2026

Brown Jr. continues to show advanced arm-strength for his age. The 6-foot, 175-pound right-hander ran his fastball up to 83 mph, sitting 81-82 mph, which is even more impressive when you look at how he is doing it. Brown moves into a short balance point and uses a minimal stride down the mound, surely looking to have much more in the tank when he starts to use his levers more.

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Patrick Connors OF / 2B / Hinsdale Central , IL / 2026

Fresh off a trip to LakePoint as a member of Team Illinois at the Junior Future Games, Connors
 more than comfortably fit in amongst an older crowd at this event. Connors continued to show his knack for contact and advanced bat-to-ball skills, collecting a handful of hits while on the barrel throughout his three games. A 7.05 runner with an upside 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame, Connors continues to prove he’s a name to know in the Illinois’ 2026 class.

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Riley Contreras OF / SS / Hinsdale Central, IL / 2026

PBR AT THE ROCK (6/10/22):
Athletic 5-foot-10, 162-pound frame with proportional strength attached. Hit towards the middle of the lineup for Cangelosi Sparks and also emerged a winner from this winter’s Lockport Rising Stars ID. Physical presence in the box with above-average hand strength for age and thump off the barrel. Got off several aggressive hacks before turning on an inner-half fastball for a no-doubt home run. 

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Frank Costabile OF / RHP / Stevenson, IL / 2026

Costabile showed off impressive arm strength for a 2026 graduate. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound two-way prospect ran a 7.23 60-yard dash, topped at 87 mph from the outfield and showed above-average bat speed and power from the right-side of the plate. To top off his impressive day, Costabile got on the mound and sat comfortably at 85-86 mph, touching an 86.8 high – that’s good for the third highest fastball velo across all Rising Stars events in the nation this year. Costabile was impressive across all facets, but his on-mound work was particularly eye-opening. He was reaching that mid-80s velocity with relative ease, and he was generating hard sweeping action with his curveball that was spinning at an advanced rate, and not just for a player his age. His changeup was equally impressive, with late arm-side run and fade that he was spotting effectively at the bottom of the zone. Costabile’s arm strength translated effortlessly into his catcher defense, where he recorded pop times in the 2.13-2.20 range, aided by an arm that topped 78 mph out of the chute.

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Daniel Coyle 3B / St. Laurence, IL / 2026

PBR AT THE ROCK (6/10/22):

Jaxson Crancer CF / Normal West, IL / 2026

Team Illinois exploded for five runs in the top of the fourth inning; 
Jaxson Crancer started the scoring with a two RBI triple to put Illinois on top, making it 4-3 at the time – later scoring on a passed ball to extend the lead to 5-3. 

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Isaac Harris LHP / Joliet Catholic Academy, IL / 2026

Isaac Harris (Joliet Catholic, 2026) was a bright spot for Team Illinois despite the loss, hurling three strong innings and competing through the unbearable heat. The wiry southpaw moves with a clean operation on the mound, working his fastball in the 78-80 mph range. He also went to a sharp 1/7 breaking ball at 60-65 mph to give opposing hitters a different look. 

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Max Heineman C / 3B / Normal University, IL / 2026

PBR AT THE ROCK (6/10/22):
Strong, well-proportioned 5-foot-8, 150-pound frame with athleticism throughout. Started behind the plate and hit cleanup on Thursday. Plenty of confidence and rhythm in the box, balanced lower half, creates hand separation at load, short stride. Loose athletic hands, level path to contact with some leverage out front, stays through the baseball. Took several quality hacks before backspinning a barrel to left field for a single in his third at-bat. Adept defender behind the plate, vocal. Steady hands, works down-to-up from a one knee stance. Loose arm that played accurate to the bag in between innings. Emerging as a name-to-know in the state’s incoming freshman class. 

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