PBR Junior Future Games: Team Illinois Game Recaps


By Illinois Scouting Staff

Last week, PBR Illinois took three teams down to Georgia to participate in the annual PBR Junior Future Games event – two rosters made up of 14U players and one comprised of 13U players. Each of the three teams performed admirably, as all of them went on to earn spots in the playoffs of their brackets. We'll break down the performances of each team inside, including top prospects to continue to follow as they embark on their high school careers.

TEAM ILLINOIS 1

By Kevin CoePBR Illinois Area Scout & Team Illinois 1 head coach

Team Illinois 2026 played five games in Atlanta with three of the games being decided by one run and the another game cut short because of heavy rain. The team was littered with athleticism and instincts that played well beyond the age of 14. Overall, the team showed elite ability on both sides of the ball with the strength showing on the mound. There were several high-follows on the roster and with some hard work and dedication to the game, all of the participants will have a chance to play baseball at the collegiate level.

GAME ONE

Team Illinois started the tournament by winning game one versus Team Colorado by the final score of 7-6, capped on a walk-off hit by Dylan Kassab. Kassab finished the game with a walk and a hit that included two RBIs. He is a strong-bodied catcher/pitcher with a strong arm behind the plate. TJ McQuillan had two hits and two RBIs. McQuillan is a high-end bat that will continue to improve with age. He has great understanding of the strike zone and when he ambushes pitches they trampoline off of his bat.

Starting the game on the mound was Callaghan O’Connor, who pitched four innings and finished with eight strikeouts and topped out at 86 mph. His arm is clean, loose, and projectable. His frame projects to throw in the high 90s one day. Jaden Carrasco also pitched in the game and featured a fastball that was up to 80 mph. His arm action is quick clean and releases from a high ¾ slot. 

GAME TWO

In Game two, Illinois took a loss to Team Louisiana 3-2 on a walk-off. Christian Lott toed the rubber for the game and showed advanced feel by commanding three pitches and topping out at 78 on the mound. He projects to be a high-follow on the mound with long loose levers and tons of pitchability. Lott also handled the bat well by lacing a double in the gap for a RBI. Leadoff hitter Joey Ireland reached base with a walk and single. Ireland is an elite defender in the middle infield and possess quick, clean footwork and a strong arm with the ability to make all of the plays. Ireland is a top-of-the-order hitter with an advanced feel for the barrel and strike zone. He has advanced bat speed and is ultra confident in the batter's box. He looks to do damage during every plate appearance but is willing to take the a walk to help the team.

GAME THREE

Team Illinois 1 was dealt a 5-0 loss in game three to Team Alabama, which was shortened by rain. Colton Benaitis started the game on the mound and pounded the strike zone with fastballs and curves. 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. 

GAME FOUR

Game four versus Team Oklahoma tasked Team Illinois with a matchup against a talented pitcher who reached an 86 mph high on the mound. That high-end arm woke the bats up and the team won 11-8 nonetheless. Patrick Connors led the way with two hits and one being a triple which was crushed to the right-center gap. Connors has a simple approach at the plate which allows him to get the barrel to contact consistently. He frequently squared up baseballs throughout the week. Ryan Myers also singled and scored a run during the game. Myers is a catcher with soft and hands and quick feet. He does a great job of allowing the pitcher to work low in the zone because he is very good defensively. 

GAME FIVE, PLAYOFFS

Team Illinois squared off against Team Missouri in the playoffs and fell a run short, dropping the ballgame by the score of 4-3. The team was led by Logan Wroughton, who came in for relief on the mound and featured a fastball that topped at 80 mph and kept hitters off balance with his cutter and curve. Wroughton projects as a high-follow in the middle infield, especially. He is a quick-twitch athlete who ran a 7.08 in the 60-yard dash, and he features quick feet, quick hands, a strong accurate arm and plays the game hard. Haiden Lajcin also profiles as an outfielder with elite defensive ability and covers above average ground in the outfield. Lajcin has a loose swing that is level through the zone and uses the whole field during his line -drive approach. 

This team will be fun to watch as they grow and develop over the next few years!

TEAM ILLINOIS 2

By Peter HamotPBR Illinois associate scout & Team Illinois 2 head coach

The second roster of PBR Illinois' within the 14U bracket, Team Illinois 2, battled through a tough division and finished pool play with a 2-1 record, eventually falling to Team MOKAN in the first round of the playoffs to finish 2-2 for the tournament.

Game One

Team Illinois 5, Team Florida 4

Team Illinois 2 started their tournament out with a bang, cutting down a two-run deficit and eventually walking off Team Florida by the score of 5-4. C/INF Max Heineman (Normal University, 2026) delivered the final blow, driving a ball deep to center-field to push across the winning run. Down 4-2 at the time, RHP/SS Oliver Thulin (Downers Grove North, 2026) came out of the ‘pen for Illinois and quickly took control of the game. The athletic right-hander showed off a big arm, reaching back for 84 mph on his best bullet, sitting mostly in the 82-83 range. He went to a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 73-74 mph to pair off his fastball, missing bats routinely throughout his three innings of work. RHP/1B Gavin Swartz (Normal University, 2026) got the nod for Team Illinois and was impressive throughout his start, working his fastball in the 78-81 mph range with a loose and quick arm action. To pair off his fastball, Swartz went to a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 65-66 mph and a changeup at 73-74 mph

Game Two

Team Illinois 1, Team Arizona 6

Team Illinois fell in game two of the tournament to a strong Team Arizona club. LHP/OF 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. OF/RHP Ian Kelly (Huntley, 2026) came out of the ‘pen to relieve Harris and provided quality relief, working his fastball up to 76 mph and recording ground balls regularly. 

GAME THREE

Team Illinois 9, Team Missouri 1

Team Illinois got back in the win column to finish up pool play with a 9-1 win over Team Missouri. RHP/UTL Joseph Kelly (Loyola Academy, 2026) was sensational on the mound for Team Illinois, firing a six-inning complete game in only 61 pitches while surrendering just four hits and one earned run. The right-hander showed impressive control over the zone for his age, not allowing a single walk while filling up the zone with a fastball that sat 77-80 mph, and reached a high of 81. He also went to a sharp 11/5 breaking ball at 64-66 mph that he was able to land for strikes and to put hitters away. The bats exploded for five runs in the top of the sixth inning to put the game out of reach; RBI singles from 3B/RHP Jonathan Osornio (St. Rita, 2026), Oliver Thulin, as well as RBI doubles from OF Jaxson Crancer (Normal West, 2026) and SS/RHP Lucas Simulick (Joliet Catholic, 2026) helped cap off the big inning. Ian Kelly came up big early in the game with an RBI single to put Illinois ahead 2-0 in the top of the fourth, while Simulick added one more in the fifth with an RBI double, his second of the day.

GAME FOUR, PLAYOFFS

Team Illinois 7, Team MOKAN 8

Team Illinois’ run came to an end in the first round of the playoffs with an 8-7 loss to a talented Team MOKAN club. MOKAN came back from a 7-3 deficit to knock off Illinois and advance to the second round of the Gold Bracket, eventually falling to Team Georgia 2 by the score of 6-1. 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. C/UTL Drew Stevens (Normal Community, 2026) would add on to the scoring with a sac fly to make it 6-3, followed by an RBI single from Lucas Simulick to make it 7-3 at the time. Simulick got the nod on the mound for Illinois and boasted a fastball up to 81 mph, sitting mostly 79-80 mph. To pair off his fastball, Simulick went to a sharp, downer breaking ball at 65-68 mph, pairing off his fastball effectively with feel down in the zone. Simulick not only impressed on the mound, but also at shortstop throughout the week, where his skills play well above his age; moving athletically to both sides of his glove with soft hands and athletic actions, also translating his strong arm to the diamond.

TEAM ILLINOIS (13U)

By Diego AcostaPBR Illinois staff & Team Illinois 13U head coach

The Team Illinois lone 13U roster rebounded from a slow start in the tournament to garner a lot of attention last week in LakePoint. The entire roster performed extremely well throughout the week with some key standouts.

GAME ONE & game two

To start the week Team Illinois dropped the first game to Florida, 10-0. However, after that first game, the pieces for Team Illinois started falling into place. Illinois then faced off with Alabama in a nail-biting game where there were multiple lead swings. MIF Blake Ragsdale went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

MIF Sean Dabe also had an outstanding day at the plate going 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Along with these two performers, OF Joshua Morgan and C/1B Keegan Seipp went deep. Morgan hit a monstrous pull-side three-run home run that traveled 407 feet, according to the field's TrackMan unit. Siepp also hit a deep solo shot to right-center, some unexpected fireworks for the 13U crowd. After seven innings of play, the game ended in a 13-13 tie – though, those 13 runs scored wound up helping the team significantly in the long run.

GAME THREE

In game three of the week, Team Illinois faced off against MOKAN. On the bump for Team Illinois was RHP Parker Robinson.  Team Illinois scored 13 runs on 12 hits in six innings only allowing one run.  Robinson went into the sixth inning scoreless with no hits allowed, sitting 72-75 mph with a 63-65 breaking ball. Robinson helped himself at the plate by hitting a sacrifice fly to right field scoring Gavin Stanislawski. 3B Kaden Wasniewski went 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. Joshua Morgan came up big for the team with a RBI ground-rule double the day after he hit a monster 400-foot home run. Players Elijah Lewis, Myles Broome, Cole Ruggeri, and Sean Dabe all came up big with hits throughout the road to a 13-1 victory for Team Illinois. 

GAME FOUR, QUARTERFINALS

Ending pool play 1-1-1, Illinois snuck into the Gold Bracket as the eighth seed and faced off with Team Tennessee. On the mound for Team Illinois was RHP Kaden Wasniewski, whose clutch work on the mound helped Team Illinois secure a playoff victory. Into extras, up one run with bases loaded, Sean Dabe wedged Team Illinois out of a jam by diving for a line-out and doubling off the runner at second, neutralizing a threat from Tennessee that seemed certain to earn them the dramatic walk-off win.

Instead, Wasniewski's RBI double in the top of the eighth was enough to keep Team Illinois in the lead permanently, following Dabe's heroics in the outfield in the half-inning that followed. Team Illinois battled for a couple runs despite being no-hit into the sixth, and that's when MIF Parker Robinson launched a ball to the wall getting him to third safely, all while MIF Isaiah Martin made his way home to take the lead. Wasniewski's solid performance on the mound for Team Illinois, pitching four scoreless innings and providing some clutch at-bats, helped keep Team Illinois' hopes alive within the JFG tourney.

GAME FIVE, SEMI-FINALS

Making it into the semi-finals, Team Illinois faced off against a talented Team Michigan roster. In the first half of the game Illinois took a commanding 13-1 lead. While running low on arms RHP Gavin Stanislawski threw three critical innings keeping the talented Michigan team to only one run. Throughout his outing Stanislawski showed his ability to control all three of his pitches: a 74-77 mph fastball, a 64-66 mph curveball, and a 69-71 changeup. 3B Kaden Wasniewski went 2-for-3 with two singles. C Myles Broome went 2-for-3 with a triple and one RBI. CIF Elijah Lewis also went 2-for-3 with two singles and an RBI. CF Joshua Morgan hit two singles with two RBIs. In the second half of the game, Michigan was able to put together multiple hits into the gaps going station to station. After a rough second half Michigan made an impressive comeback and won on a walk-off single scoring their runner on second. 

 At the end of the week, Team Illinois' 13U group impressed a lot of people, including opposing coaches and state directors. The team was filled with great talent that over the years will continue to grow and become some of the top talented players in the state of Illinois.

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