Chicago Preseason I.D.: Quick Hits


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Feb. 28, the PBR Illinois team hosted the third annual Chicago Preseason I.D. at the Pullman Community Center in Chicago, Ill. The event featured nearly 50 players from high school graduates in classes 2022-25, from across the Chicagoland area, including a handful of prospects from across the Indiana state line.

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.

QUICK HITS

UNSIGNED SENIOR

+ OF Kaleb Chatman (Morgan Park, 2021) is an athletic, physical unsigned senior to know coming out of the Chicago Preseason I.D. At the plate, the 5-foot-10, 183-pound, right-handed hitter has a simple swing with quick, twitchy hands, creating advanced bat speed while working gap-to-gap. Chatman also showed clean outfield actions, moving athletically, playing through the baseball while topping at 86 mph. Also, ran a 7.04 laser-timed 60.

CLASS OF 2022

+ One of the more impressive bullpens on the day came from uncommitted 2022 RHP Waylon Deck (Homewood-Flossmoor). Deck has a strong, athletic, 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame and despite pitching primarily out of the stretch, showed an arsenal that could be fit for a starter moving forward. His arm plays clean and lively from a ¾ slot and he showed above-average feel for a four-pitch mix. The fastball jumped out of the hand at times, flashed carry through the zone and sat 84-86 mph, touching 87 (T2442 rpm). He also showed advanced feel for a mid-70s sinking changeup at the bottom of the zone and a late biting cutter that topped at 80 mph with a max spin rate of 2607 rpm. The curveball plays on an 11/5 plane, sat at 69-71 mph and spun at an average of 2268 rpm.

+ 3B/RHP Ryan Kramer (Latin School of Chicago) had his strongest showing to-date at the Chicago Preseason I.D. Kramer, a strong-bodied, 6-foot-1, 210-pound, started his day by taking a loud round of BP. Kramer takes an aggressive/intentful right-handed swing and looks to do damage to the pull-side of the field. It profiles as a power-potential bat that registered a max distance of 363 feet with a max exit velocity 95.63 mph off the bat. Defensively, he profiles as a corner infielder with above-average arm strength (86 mph across the diamond) which played well on the mound. The right-handed pitcher sat at 84 mph with his fastball which registered an average spin rate of 2460 rpm. Kramer also spun two above average breaking balls that both had max spin rates of 2400+ rpm. 

+ RHPs Jack Armstrong (Shiloh) and Connor Frey (Normal University) were a pair of 2022 arms who made their PBR event debuts on Sunday.

Armstrong immediately looks the part on the mound thanks to his 6-foot-5, 230-pound, extra-large, well-proportioned frame. The uncommitted junior proceeded to show control of his body, repeating his delivery with above-average command of his three-pitch mix and minimal effort throughout. His fastball came out of the hand with ease and pounded the bottom of the zone at 83-84 mph. His curveball plays with late, tight action on an 11/5 plane, consistently landing for strikes at 73 mph. The changeup is also an above-average offering with feel for the bottom of the zone at 76-78 mph. Armstrong is a high-floor pitchability arm with what seems to be much more in the tank. 

Frey, listed at 5-foot-9, 165-pounds, pounded the bottom of the zone or below with his four-pitch mix while sitting 83-84 mph with his fastball. The arm works clean and he delivered one of the more polished bullpens on the day. 

+ SS Nick Lagges (Lane Tech, 2022) put together one of the more complete day’s when it comes to position players at the event. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound, right-handed hitter has a simple, repeatable swing, stays within himself, covers the whole plate and made a lot of hard contact to all parts of the field. The 7.27 runner also showed natural infield actions, active feet, sure hands and plenty of arm (85 mph) to stick on the left-side of the infield.

+ Despite a rather unassuming 5-foot-9, 135-pound frame, RHP Jaren Jackson (Homewood-Flossmoor, 2022) delivered a polished bullpen, featuring a four-pitch mix which included a curveball and slider that both consistently landed for strikes, with depth and T2400+ rpm. Jackson’s fastball topped at 81 mph and his late fading changeup sat in the mid-70’s.

+ INF Carter Dow (Lane Tech, 2022) was yet another uncommitted junior making his PBR debut at the event. Dow has a 6-foot, 160-pound, wiry, high-waisted frame and upside right-handed bat. It is a loose, athletic swing that creates whip in the barrel at times, stays through the zone a long time while showing the ability to backspin the baseball on a line to all fields. On the infield he moves with fluidity and his arm played at 81 mph.  

CLASS OF 2023

+ OF William Hill (Brooks, 2023) put together the most head-turning performance of anyone in attendance at the Chicago I.D. Hill, a long-levered, high-waisted, 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, ran far and away the best 60-time of the event a 6.79, on what seemed to be slow turf. He then proceeded to bounce around the outfield, playing light and easy on his feet, firing multiple throws that played true, at head height or lower, registering a number of 90+ mph throws, his best coming in at 94 mph. Not to be outdone, the right-handed hitter showed a simple, easy, twitchy right-handed swing with upside. Hill, another prospect making his PBR debut, emerged as one of the toolsiest 2023s still on the market in Illinois.

+ RHP/SS M.J. Liyeos (Waubonsie Valley, 2023) emerged as a follow 2023 after his strong two-way performance. The 6-foot-1, 155-pound, long-levered sophomore arguably showed best on the mound where his 82-84 mph fastball played easy out of the hand while showing control of the zone out of the windup. His best offering however is a sweeping curveball that looks to be a true out-pitch, playing on an 11/5 to 10/4 plane with T2744 rpm; best curveball spin rate of the event. To round out his three-pitch mix he showed a sinking changeup at the bottom of the zone at 75-77 mph. At the plate the right-handed hitter showed wiry levers, a level path and pull-side approach.

+ C Angel Tapia Jr. (Oak Lawn) was yet another prospect to make a statement at his first-ever PBR event. Tapia’s most impressive tool looks to be his ability behind the plate. He is extremely quick and efficient out of the crouch with athletic feet and an advanced glove-to-hand release. His throws were consistently on the bag, topped at 73 mph and his pop times ranged from 2.01-2.03. At the plate, the right-handed hitter has a presence and rhythm to his pre-pitch look and takes an aggressive swing with a lifted approach. Follow 2023 catcher.

+ A left/left outfielder to keep an eye on in the 2023 class is Amir Faulkner (Brooks, 2023). Faulkner, listed at 5-foot-9, 130-pounds, carries himself with rhythm in all parts of his game, especially at the plate. He showed an easy swing with loose athletic hands, short bat path, gap-to-gap approach and above-average balance throughout. 

CLASS OF 2024

+ INF Savion Flowers (Kenwood) continues to show he is a high-follow 2024 in Illinois. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound, athletically-built, high-waisted, left-handed hitter took one of the top rounds of BP on the day. It is an easy, repeatable stroke with athletic hands that work on top of the baseball and land hard contact to all fields. Flowers’ best position remains to be seen but he has the actions and arm to stick somewhere on the infield if he so chooses. High-follow left-handed hitting 2024. 

CLICK HERE for the full roster.

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