Peoria Preseason I.D.: Quick Hits

By Illinois Staff

On Wednesday, the PBR Illinois staff made its last stop on the high school winter showcase circuit for the third annual Peoria Preseason I.D. Approximately 70 prospects from the area made their way to the Louisville Slugger Dome in Peoria, and we’re going to share with you the biggest takeaways from the event here today.

Tomorrow, Friday, we’ll publish a Statistical Analysis from the showcase, highlighting the top performers across the event leaderboards. In a few week’s time, we’ll have videos taken from Wednesday’s showcase posted inside player profiles, with position-by-position analysis coming soon after that. For now, here are the best things we learned and saw from the annual Peoria event.



+ One of the top BP rounds on the day belonged to unsigned senior Sam Monroe (Moline). Monroe, a strong 5-foot-9, 175-pound, left/left outfielder, showed a loose, highly-repeatable swing, handling pitches on both corners of the plate while routinely barrelling baseballs into either gap. Monroe also had the top exit velocity on the day, 96 mph off a tee, and showed natural, smooth outfield actions with a loose arm that topped at 85 mph. With this showing in Peoria, Monroe put himself on the map as one of the top position players still available in the state’s 2020 class.

+ RHP Jacob Pauwels proved to be another unsigned senior from Moline to follow closely moving forward, listed at 6-foot, 210 pounds. Pauwels has a short, quick arm, and he ran his fastball up to 85 mph, with an ability to cut it at times. He also showed a late-breaking 74-76 mph slider and power-type changeup. When Pauwels syncs his delivery, he also creates tilt to the bottom of the zone.


+ One of the biggest revelations on the day was 2021 RHP Will Morris (Plainfield South). Morris, a long and lean, 6-foot-5, 180-pound, highly-projectable right-hander, has made one of the biggest velocity jumps of any 2021 arms in the state this winter. Morris attended the same event a year ago where he sat 75-78 mph. Fast-forward to Wednesday where Morris mostly sat 85-87 mph with his four-seamer, featuring late, hard-running action. Even with the massive jump in velocity from last winter, there seems to be plenty more velo to come in this upside arm. Currently, Morris’ best secondary offering looks to be a mid-70s changeup with arm-side run and fade.

+ Another 2021 who made a big jump since last year’s Peoria event was LHP Brayden Closs (Warrensburg-Latham). The wide-shouldered, 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw sat anywhere from 82-86 mph – up from 76 last year. Closs also showed a three-pitch mix, including a curveball working on a 1/7 plane at 72-75 mph, and feel for a changeup at 76-78 mph.

+ 2021 INF Jake Tapia (Belvidere North) played an athletic role on the infield, ranging well to both sides while showing the ability to play on the move. His arm plays athletic and flashed carry (topped at 88 mph), to go along with his natural defensive actions. At the plate he has loose, athletic hands from the right-side, and he gets extension through contact and it works gap-to-gap. Tapia continues to make strides in his game every time we see him and has become a 2021 infielder to follow moving forward.

+ INF/RHP Jack Barham (Dunlap, 2021) has a short, strong build and quick arm that played on the mound and on the infield. Barham has a loose, clean, quick arm and ran his fastball up to 86 mph. He also showed one of the best breaking balls on the day, a sharp curve on a 11/5 plane thrown with intent and sat 68-70 mph. He also topped at 85 mph across the infield and showed quick, twitchy hands, while at the plate, he stayed short to the ball and made consistent hard contact to the middle of the field.

+ Switch-hitter Will Girardi (Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 2021) showed the best arm from the outfield and showed equally as well from both sides of the plate. Girardi has present bat strength aided by his 5-foot-11, 185-pound broad-shouldered frame and he has a short, direct path to the ball, working gap-to-gap.


+ OF Elijah Kjellberg (Parkway Central, 2022) is a 2022 outfielder to follow from Missouri. Kjellberg was 86 mph from the outfield but it was his advanced right-handed bat that really opened eyes in Peoria. The lean, athletic 6-foot, 155-pound, right-handed hitter has a comfortable, confident look in the box with loose, athletic hands, and present bat speed with fluid rhythm throughout. Kjellberg made some of the most consistent hard contact on the day and sprayed balls to all fields with more power to come as his frame continues to fill out. 

+ Another 2022 who took a strong round of BP was Noah Chase (Illinois Valley Central). Chase has an open, upright setup and swings with intent, routinely barreling balls with authority to the pull-side. 

+ Washington’s Josh Heyder (2021) stood out behind the plate with a prototypical catcher’s build at a strong 6-foot, 210-pounds. He showed best out of the crouch at 2.07-2.19 pop times, but also showed serviceable actions on the infield to play a steady third base as well. His arm is his calling card and played well with carry and accuracy both at catcher (80 mph) and infield (88 mph). Heyder brings his physicality in the box where the ball jumps off the barrel with relative ease. Heyder has taken big strides in his game since our last look and should be a high-follow 2021 catcher.

+ 2022 Nathan Cooley (Illinois Valley Central) was a close second behind Heyder in the catching crop. Cooley popped consistent 2.08-2.14 times and showed an accurate arm and quick footwork. 

+ Another 2022 prospect Nolan McMasters (Chatham Glenwood) jumped onto our follow list after a strong all-around showing in Peoria. McMasters ran a 7.19 and is an athletic 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, his athleticism really shows on the infield where he ranged well and showed soft hands and a plus arm for his age (87 mph) that played true out of a short, efficient release. Offensively, McMasters hits with moxy and rhythm in the box as well as quick, twitchy hands off a short, level bat path that made consistent hard contact. To top off his impressive day, he hopped on the mound and showed a loose, quick arm that produced a fastball that sat mostly 84-85 mph and he paired it with two advanced off-speed offerings. 

+ INF Easton Harris (Washington, 2022) has some intriguing upside on the infield as well. Harris is a broad-shouldered 5-foot-10, 167 pounds, and took a clean round of defense that showed all the playable actions turning the double play, backhand, and run-through. Harris also showed an above-average arm that topped 85 mph. Harris has an upside right-handed swing as well with loose hands on a level path that flashed bat speed at times. Harris is also more than capable on the mound with a clean, quick arm and a swing-and-miss breaking ball.

+ Yet another follow 2022 infielder from central Illinois was Seth Parkinson (Rochester). Parkinson has a strong 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame that could potentially profile him at third base moving forward. Parkinson’s right-handed bat is highly-repeatable, fluid and gets extension through contact. The bat should be potent enough to handle a third base profile. 

+ 1B/RHP Kellen Hershberger (Normal Community, 2022) stands an impressive 6-foot-2, 195-pounds and it serves him well around the bag at first base. He shows easy actions and hands with a natural feel for the bag. Those easy actions translate to the offensive side of the ball and on the mound as well. Hershberger swings a quiet, smooth right-handed bat that works uphill with bat strength. On the mound his arm works loose, easy, slightly across his body and sat in the upper-70s.


+ Easily the top 2023 in attendance, SS Bryer Arview (Civic Memorial), looks the part of a higher ceiling middle infielder. Arview has a clean, athletic arm with a quick release that played extremely well across the diamond with accuracy at 79 mph. He’s a natural defender with soft hands and moves easy, his footwork and hands play well together and it showed best on an easy run-through. Arview also swings an upside left-handed bat with a confident and relaxed look in the box, combined with easy effort and fluid rhythm. Arview’s path works uphill and he uses the whole field to hit.