McHenry Preseason I.D.: Quick Hits


By Illinois Staff

On Sunday, Jan. 26th, the PBR Illinois team hosted its third showcase of the new year, the McHenry Preseason I.D., at Pro Player Academy in McHenry, Ill. For the past four years, this event has provided our staff with an opportunity to evaluate high school-aged prospects from Northern Illinois, primarily. The McHenry event has historically revealed to us some of the area’s top talent and with over 100 participants, this year was no different. 

Today we take an early look, “quick look”, at some of the standout performances from the event. There will be plenty of other prospects touched on in the soon to be released statistical analysis and the positional breakdown that will be released over the coming weeks.

For now here are some noteworthy names that should be on college radars.

QUICK HITS

JUNIOR BREAK-OUT CANDIDATES

+ Two of the top prospects on the day were a pair of 2021 backstops; Kyle Hayes (St. Charles East and Daniel Contreras (Rockford Boylan). Hayes is a barrel-chested, wide-shouldered, 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-handed hitter with all kinds of physicality plastered in his game. At the plate, Hayes looks to lift the baseball with intent and has present barrel strength and the power to all fields. Behind the plate, Hayes has a big arm (82 mph) and is quick, clean and athletic out of the crouch. Contreras impressed in all facets of his game as well but his receiving abilities during bullpens stood out amongst his peers. Contreras is extremely flexible – given his 5-foot-11, 205-pound, strong-bodied frame – and he gives a wide, square, low target while staying ultra-quiet with his soft hands and body. At the plate, Contreras looks like a middle-of-the-order bat with a simple, intentful swing that produced hard gap-to-gap contact. Both catchers seem to be on the rise this offseason and should be high-follows moving forward. 

+ Making his PBR debut was Lucas Bolender (St. Charles North), another catcher to keep an eye on in the 2021 class. Bolender has a loose, aggressive right-handed swing and is clean out of the chute.

+ Another PBR first-timer to shine on Sunday was LHP Matthew Porter (Prairie Ridge). Porter, a 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander, has a solid lower half and loose, quick arm. His fastball, which sat mostly at 84 mph and touched 85, jumps out of his hand. Porter paired his live fastball with a sharp 10/4 breaking ball with swing-and-miss potential. He’ll be one to watch this spring as he gives Prairie Ridge yet another high-level arm on their staff.

+ The most polished bullpen of the day belonged to RHP Jake Jakubowski (Huntley, 2021). Jakubowski has a clean, athletic arm action from a submarine slot and painted the bottom of the zone with his three-pitch repertoire, which includes a much-improved slider with late, sharp sweeping action. Jakubowski looks like a groundball machine that should be a valuable weapon for the Red Raiders this spring. 

+ Another high-pitchability right-hander continuing to make strides on the mound was RHP Dylan Petrey (Hampshire, 2021). Petrey was a key arm for the state finalist Whip-Purs last spring and nothing should change as a junior. Petrey has seen a bump in velocity, sitting 81-84 mph, touching 85 on Sunday. Petrey also spun a sharp slider with feel for the zone. 

+ Two of the top 2021 infielders were Rance Bryant (Schlarman) and Felipe De Avila (Woodstock North), both of whom look like they can stay on the infield moving forward. Bryant ranges with ease, maintains body control on the move, and has a quick release with a loose arm that played at 80 mph across the diamond. De Avila is a sure-handed middle infielder with a loose arm and a simple, direct swing from the right-handed of the plate.

MORE ARMS

+ Two of the livelier arms on the day belonged to Tyler Deleskiewicz (Badger, WI, 2022) and RHP Michael Moise (Huntley, 2021). Deleskiewicz has a highly-projectable 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame with a quick, upside arm that produced a fastball up to 87 mph, sitting mostly 84-86 mph. Moise is a 6-foot, 165-pound right-hander who has seen his fastball tick up since last August, sitting mostly 84-85 mph, touching 86.

LEFT-HANDED BATS

+ A pair of left-handed hitting junior outfielders from Johnsburg, Joshua Notriano and Joey Hagen, stood out with some of the top BP rounds on the day. Notriano has a strong, 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame and present bat speed and pull-power. Hagen has an athletic 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame, looks comfortable and confident in the box and the ball jumps off his barrel.

SOPHOMORE FOLLOWS

+ C Ryan Kelly and RHP Charlie Giese were two of the better 2022 prospects in attendance and are currently sophomores at Huntley. Kelly is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound, right-handed hitter with athletic loose hands and a highly-repeatable swing that helps him make hard line-drive contact to all fields. Giese is a projectable 6-foot-2, 170-pound, right-handed pitcher with upside. He’s got a quick arm that produces a low-80s fastball and feel for a sharp breaking ball. 

+ INF/RHP Braden Thelander (Prairie Ridge) continued to show the arm strength and athleticism we have become accustomed to seeing. Defensively, he has the tools to stick in the middle infield with soft hands, quick clean transfer and strong arm that topped at 83 mph across the diamond. He also sat 82-83 mph on the mound with a tight, swing-and-miss curveball at 70-71 mph. 

+ OF Rick Powell (McHenry) was arguably one of the top 2022 bats in attendance. Powell has a simple, strong right-handed swing that stays flat through the zone resulting in a lot of backspun line-drives to the middle of the field. 

HIGH-PROFILE FRESHMEN

+ Stevenson’s J.R. Nelson turned in one of the best defensive showing of the day, regardless of class. The 5-foot-7, 140-pounder is built for the middle of the infield with soft hands, natural actions and the ability to play everything cleanly on the move. His arm works efficiently and above average for his age (79 mph) and likely enough to keep him on the left side of the infield. 

+ Ryan and Brayden Bakes (Huntley) both continue to show some intriguing athleticism. The left-handed hitting Brayden looks like a potential dynamic outfielder. He ran a 3.94 mark down the line and topped 86 mph arm from the outfield, all while applying the same quick twitch abilities from the batter’s box. Ryan, a right-handed hitting catcher, showed a similar plus arm for his age, topping at 80 mph out of the crouch. He’s a sturdy, quiet defender and his physicality plays well behind the dish.

+ Yet another Huntley follow, RHP Andrew Ressler (Huntley) is going to be a name to remember. The 2023 righty is advanced for his age on the mound, by carrying a ton of moxy and confidence while pounding the the zone with a fastball up to 82 mph. He’s got above-average feel already for an 11/5 curveball that was much improved since his last showing in October, and he stays on top of a firmly thrown changeup.

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