Prep Baseball Report

Unsigned Senior Showcase: Quick Hits

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Feb. 21, the PBR Illinois team hosted the final Unsigned Senior Showcase for 2021 prospects at The MAX in McCook, IL. The event featured 50 unsigned seniors, with the majority hailing from Illinois. 

Today, our staff collaborated to highlight the biggest takeaways and highlights from Sunday’s showcase, and we’re publishing them within this Quick Hits piece. Over the next couple of days we’ll be diving deeper into all of the data we collected rolling out even more coverage from the event.

For now, take a look at the Quick Hits from Sunday.


The abundance of high-quality arms still on the market in Illinois was the biggest takeaway from the event. In total, seven arms touched 87 mph or better on Sunday, led by RHP Meade Johnson (Mattoon) and RHP Chris Whelton (Mount Carmel). Both Johnson and Whelton were two of the biggest winners of the entire event and are now arguably two of the top uncommitted arms in the state.

Johnson, a highly-athletic, 6-foot-2, 180-pound multi-sport athlete, sat 88-90 mph throughout his bullpen (a jump from 84 mph last August). He also showed off two above-average breaking balls, with his slider flashing swing-and-miss action on a 10/4 plane at 75-76 mph and an average spin rate of 2425 rpm. Johnson looks the part of a starter at the next level thanks to his four-pitch mix, the ease in his delivery and the high-volume of strikes he threw throughout.

Whelton, a physical, 6-foot-3, 225-pound, made quite a statement at his first-ever PBR event. The broad-shouldered right-hander delivered the firmest fastball of the day at 91.09, via TrackMan, sitting 89-90 mph (2438 average rpm) throughout with relative ease. Whelton, a three-sport athlete, has just started to focus on baseball but that would be hard to tell by watching his bullpen. Whelton showed above-average control of his lively fastball, flashed plus action on his mid-70’s changeup and was able to land his low-70’s breaking balls for strikes (2224 max rpm). High-ceiling power arm still available in the Illinois’ 2021 class.

Another right-handed pitcher who has his arrow pointing up after Sunday is RHP Noah Klein (Loyola Academy). Klein, listed at 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, has a strong frame, especially in the lower half. After sitting 83-84 mph last June at the Top Prospect-Chicago, Klein came out sitting 88-90 mph while working both sides of the plate. He also spun a sharp 70-72 mph curveball at a max of 2325 rpm and showed a sinking changeup at 77-80 mph. Klein is yet another quality power arm still on the market in Illinois. 

The first player off the board from the event is RHP Christian Jensik (Oswego East), who committed to North Central College shortly after the event. Jensik has a 6-foot-2, 215-pound, physical, wide-shouldered build and did not throw a fastball under 88 mph throughout his bullpen. He also throws an aggressive curveball at the bottom of the zone at 75-77 mph with an average of 2288 rpm. 

Two other physical right-handers up to 88 mph on Sunday were Libertyville products Conner Lutes and Jack Gillespie. Lutes, listed at 6-foot-4, 223-pounds put together one of the more polished bullpens of the event, consistently landing his four-pitch mix for strikes and showing a repeatable, clean delivery. Lutes’ fastball sat at 86-87 mph and his slider looked to be one of his top secondary offerings at 70-72 mph and a max spin rate of 2181 rpm. Gillespie also touched 88 mph, sitting 86-87 with an average spin rate of 1449 rpm. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder also showed advanced feel for his changeup with sinking action at 84 mph and a slider at 73-75 mph (2254 rpm).

If you are in the mix for a quality high-academic arm, RHP Ryan Wong (Lane Tech) fits the mold. Wong has an athletic, 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame and has continued to see his velocity climb over the last year. Last January, Wong sat 81-82 mph at the McHenry Preseason ID. On Sunday, Wong’s fastball sat 86-87 mph with a max spin rate of 2563 rpm while spinning an above-average slider at 76-77 mph (2412 max rpm). 

Besides the aforementioned arms, there were still a number of position players worth noting as well. INF Jayden Gonzalez (De La Salle) continues to prove he is one of the top uncommitted position players in the state. Gonzalez has a loose, quick right-handed bat and is consistently on the barrel, working gap-to-gap with authority. Gonzalez averaged 90.65 mph off the bat during BP (second-best of the event) with a max distance of 337 feet, best of the event. Defensively, he has smooth, confident infield actions and a strong arm that played at 87 mph across the diamond. High-follow unsigned senior. 

Wisconsin was also well represented thanks to the likes of INF’s Harrison Toone (Brookfield East) and Ryan Kendziorski (Whitnall), as well as C/OF Conor Diedrich (Ripon). 

Toone showed some of the best infield actions on the day and his arm, which played at 84 mph, should keep him on the left-side of the diamond if needed. 

Kendziorski has a highly-athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and an impressive combination of tools. The infielder ran a 6.80 60 (best of the event), was 88 mph across the infield (best of the event) and registered a 96 mph exit velocity during BP. 

Diedrich, ran a 7.12 60, and registered the top exit velocity of the day at 98 mph. The right-handed hitter is calm and quiet in the box and repeats his swing that is direct to the ball with natural lift to the pull-side gap. Diedrich recorded a max distance off the bat of 334 feet during BP. Defensively, in the outfield, he played aggressive through the baseball and topped at 88 mph mph. He was also 75 mph from behind the plate.

Another prospect who made a strong impression in his PBR debut was INF/RHP Timmy O’Brien (Maine South). The 6-foot-3, 185-pound, right-handed hitter, has been the starting shortstop on varsity since his sophomore season while hitting towards the top of the order. O’Brien ran a 6.88 60 and showed an easy, loose, balanced swing with a knack for the barrel during his round of BP. O’Brien also got on the mound and showed off a short, easy arm action and a fastball up to 84 mph. 

A quartet of Illinois backstops worth mentioning were Jorge Garcia (Chicago Bulls College Prep), Aaron Barrera (Lakeview), Casey Swanson (Minooka) and Ryan Schmidt (West Chicago). 

Garcia has natural catcher actions, is clean out of the chute and was consistently on the bag with a low pop time of 2.02. At the plate, the right-handed hitter stays compact, controls the barrel and registered a 92 mph exit velocity.

Barrera, has a strong, wide-shouldered build, and confident look in the box. The right-handed hitter swings with controlled aggression, stays through the hitting zone and uses the whole field. 

Swanson is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound, left-handed hitter with loose, quick hands and showed  the ability to backspin the baseball from gap-to-gap. Swanson was clean and directional out of the crouch and his arm played at 77 mph with a low pop time of 2.07. 

Schmidt, has a wiry-strong, 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame and was clean and easy out of the crouch with a low pop-time of 2.05. Offensively, the right-handed hitter has quick, strong hands and the ball jumped off the barrel at times.

CLICK HERE for the full roster from the event.

Stay tuned as we will continue to breakdown the event over the coming days and weeks.