Top-10 Stories of 2019: No. 3 The 11 IL high schoolers drafted in 2019

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

At No. 4 on our countdown, we focused on the former Illinois high school standouts who heard their names called in this past June’s MLB Draft out of college. Well, there were also a few prospects who got to hear their names called following their senior seasons in high school, starting with the No. 18 overall pick in the draft, Quinn Priester (Cary-Grove, 2019).

Not to spoil what’s to come through the rest of our countdown, but we’ll focus on Priester a little more down the line… for now, we’ll highlight the rest of the prep products who were good enough as teenagers to warrant selections in the MLB Draft.

After Priester, the next Illinois prep prospect to hear his name called was SS Jalen Greer (St. Rita, 2019) who went in round five to the Oakland Athletics, and he subsequently signed his first professional contract, too. He has quiet, loose hands that help create bat speed with twitch. Greer is also a talented shortstop with a strong arm who ranges well from side to side. He debuted in the Arizona League in late June, where he’ll likely return in 2020.

Jalen Greer (Super 60, 2/3/19)

Homewood-Flossmoor’s Tyler Schlaffer gets to be the hometown hero after the Chicago Cubs elected to draft the right-hander with their ninth-round pick. He made a major leap in the fall of 2018 and kept on rising to the No. 10 overall prospect in the final edition of the state’s 2019 class. Thus far, he’s pitched 5.1 innings of pro ball for the Cubs’ AZL team, and he’s punched out five in that time, too. He has a big fastball, up to 95 mph in May, with an aggressive changeup and work-in-progress breaking ball.

Tyler Schlaffer (5/22/19)

On Day Three, the big righty from Hononegah Tyler Statler was selected in the 14th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. With a large, durable 6-foot-6 that helps produce a really heavy fastball that was up to 90 mph early in 2019, with some feel for his offspeed, too. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League for his first taste of pro ball and pitched 10.2 innings, punching out 12 in that span.

Tyler Statler (1/3/19)

While Illiana Christian is technically an Indiana program now, it’s worth noting D.J. Gladney was selected and signed by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round. The former White Sox Ace product gets to continue donning the black and white in pro ball where he’s gotten off to a solid start in the Arizona League where he slugged eight homers in 201 at-bats.

Marian Catholic’s Pierce Jones rose up the board throughout 2019 – and apparently not just our own. The No. 23-ranked prospect in the state’s 2019 class has a lean/strong 6-foot-1 frame with a natural lift in his right-handed swing. He’s a natural outfielder with fluid footwork that works really well on the basepaths, too. The San Diego Padres took a chance on Jones in the 26th round and he opted to sign with the team and played 22 games in the AZL in his first trial of pro ball.

Pierce Jones (3/16/19)

Jones was the final Illinois prep product to be drafted and sign. In the 33rd round, the Cubs took Lincoln-Way East’s Ryan Ritter but Ritter decided to head to John A. Logan JC instead which has already proven to be a smart call, given that he’s among the top JUCO draft talents in the country headed into the New Year. Ritter will be JUCO teammates with Jason Hodges (Marist) in 2020, who was also drafted late, in the 34th round by the Cincinnati Reds. Hodges finished ranked No. 4 in the state’s 2019 class as one of the top power bats in the country. LHP Michael Prosecky (Nazareth Academy) is the prize of Louisville’s incoming freshman class and was the No. 2-ranked prospect in the state’s ‘19 class. The Phillies took a shot on Prosecky in the 35th round but he decided on Louisville instead. The back-to-back PBR Illinois POTY, Matt McCormick (St. Laurence) is still going to West Virginia despite being drafted by the Reds in the final round of the draft. And Kendal Ewell (Marist) was the Rockies’ final pick but he’s still committed to Eastern Kentucky. He was the top-ranked position player in the state’s 2019 class.