Underclass Invitational: Preview


By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

On Saturday, March 27, the PBR Illinois team is hosting the perennial Underclass Invitational showcase, bringing together the state’s best 2023 and 2024 prospects in one place. This year’s Underclass Invitational event will be held at The MAX in McCook, Ill. There’s currently 120 of the Illinois’ most talented 2023-24 players set to join us on Saturday, and we’ll spend some time today highlighting the best committed and uncommitted talent headed to The MAX within this preview story.

For a closer look at the showcase details and the technologies we'll have on-site to assist our in-person evaluation for all in attendance, click here. For a complete look at those registered to attend this event, view the most up-to-date version of the roster by clicking here.

EVENT HISTORY

This is historically one of the most gifted rosters we’re able to assemble for a single in-state showcase on an annual basis. Last year’s roster, for example, featured two of the top-ranked juniors in the state: Alex Stanwich (Lincoln-Way East, 2022; Tennessee commit) and RHP/INF Owen Murphy (Riverside-Brookfield, 2022; Notre Dame). There are many top-ranked 2023s who were in attendance at last year’s showcase who will also be headed to Saturday’s event, like Huntley’s Ryan (South Carolina) and Brayden Bakes (uncommitted); as well as OF Trey Swiderski (Joliet Catholic; Louisville), C/RHP Cooper Cohn (McHenry; uncommitted), RHP Ryan Hussey (Providence Catholic; Notre Dame), and RHP Grant Tenuta (Sandburg; uncommitted), among many, many others.

THIS SATURDAY

CLASS OF 2023 ROSTER

Saturday’s 2023-24 roster contains many of the top underclass talent Illinois has to offer.

Continuing along the trend of top-ranked 2023s, RHP Zander Mueth (Belleville East; Mississippi) is headed to The MAX as, currently, the No. 3-ranked player in an exciting state sophomore class – ranked in the top-100 nationally as well. Mueth was up to 91 mph in late October at a PBR Missouri showcase with three pitches in a highly athletic, projectable 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame, and he committed to Ole Miss at the start of this year.

Zander Mueth (10/25/20)

INF Cal Sefcik (Marist, 2023; uncommitted) was one of the most impressive players we saw during a busy fall. Sefcik ended the year as a top-20-ranked player in the state with all-around actions and athleticism that combined for impressive measurable statistics that also passed every eye test. His right-handed swing is equipped with big bat speed and strength, and he’s an athletic runner (7.05) with confident actions fit for the left side of the infield, and the arm has plenty to play there, too.

Cal Sefcik (10/25/20)

From St. Laurence, RHP Dennis Helwig Jr. (2023; uncommitted) leapt out in front of our staff in a live, early summer look that helped him land an invitation to both the Underclass Games and eventually the PBR Future Games as a member of Team Midwest Select, as one of the youngest players in attendance. He has long levers on a lanky 6-foot-4 frame that should earn him some extra looks early into his high school career, and we’re excited to see how he’s used the offseason on Saturday.

Built at a similarly impressive, advanced 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, C Tyler Stack (Oswego, 2023; uncommitted) moves especially well for his size, including from behind the plate, where he registered sub-2.00 pop times at a fall event, while also projecting for power potential as he continues to mature and add strength.

Tyler Stack (10/25/20)

LHP T.J. Schlageter (Joliet Catholic, 2023; uncommitted) looks like one of the top southpaws on Saturday’s roster. He’s impressed our staff both in live looks and the showcase environment, and it’s earned him a spot on the state’s 2023 rankings already, as an athletic, projectable strike-thrower who sat in the low-80s last fall.

We’re also eager to see the PBR showcase debuts of right-handers Cole Van Assen (Brother Rice, 2023; uncommitted) and Zachary Kwasny (Lincoln-Way East, 2023; uncommitted). The two are built in upside frames, and they both grabbed our attention in live looks at PBR tournaments last year.

CLASS OF 2024 ROSTER

Despite an atypical 2020 we were able to see a plethora of the top 2024s in the state. We’ve seen members of this class stand out previously at the PBR Junior Future Games, PBR at The Rock tournaments in Wisconsin, and in the late summer at the 2024 Top Prospect Games, but now’s the time when the top of this freshman class really starts to take shape.

Ranked on the top-200 board nationally, Louisville commit OF Dennis Butler III (Simeon, 2024) has been highly impressive to this point already. His twitchy athleticism generates explosive foot speed, and it’s helped him clock a low 60-yard dash time of 6.74 – and that was nine months ago – and we’ve seen him barrel baseballs on repeat from the left-handed batter’s box.

Dennis Butler III (6/29/20)

From Nazareth Academy, LHP/1B John Hughes (2024; uncommitted) has trended as one of the top 2024s in the state. Inside a strong left/left profile, Hughes has stood out early for his work from the mound. Hughes was one of the top arms at the Junior Future Games in 2019 and put together a number of strong outings throughout last summer, especially at the 15U National Championship at Lake Point.

INF Savion Flowers (Kenwood, 2024; uncommitted) has been one of the most impressive ‘24s we’ve seen along this winter showcase circuit, in a highly athletic 6-foot-1, 170-pound build that we’ll see again on Saturday. His left-handed bat repeats easily, with athletic hands and a whole field approach.

INF Jameson Martin (St. Laurence, 2024; uncommitted) looks capable of becoming one of this class’ impact middle infielders. He is a smooth shortstop and projects to stick there, while swinging a loose, athletic right-handed bat that projects to jumpstart the top of a lineup.

Jameson Martin (6/22/20)

A couple right-handed pitchers headed to The MAX attached to some offseason buzz: Ryan Sloan (York, 2024; Wake Forest) and Paul Svanascini (Northridge Prep, 2024; uncommitted). Sloan was one of the top prospects at last August's 2024 Top Prospect Games and he’s already announced his verbal commitment to Wake Forest. Svanascini has budding physicality inside his 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame. Reports have Svanascini running his fastball into the mid-to-upper 80's this winter.

NEW CHECK-IN PROCESS

Because of the high number of prospects set to attend this event, it is imperative that you read our adjusted showcase itinerary below, which will allow our staff to swiftly and efficiently educate and evaluate the players set to attend.

Additionally, in an effort to continue and develop contactless check-in strategies, upon arrival, players will scan a QR Code with their smartphone camera that will lead them to a Google Form. On that Form, players will enter their name (matching the spelling on their PBR profile) and hit submit. Upon submission, players will be prompted to click a link that will direct them to their jersey color and number, located next to their registered name.

ITINERARY

Due to state guidelines, and the facility's requirements, there will be a limit to the number of people inside the facility at one time. Because of this, parents will NOT be allowed within the facility. This showcase will operate in groups, by position, under the format as follows:

POSITION GROUPS

CHECK-IN TIMES:

+ All Outfielders: 12 p.m.

+ All Infielders: 2 p.m.

+ All Catchers: 5 p.m.

+ All Pitchers (registered as either two-way or pitchers-only): 6 p.m.

MORE EVENT DETAILS

Click here to learn more about our tech partners that have enhanced our players showcase experience. Partners like TrackMan and Blast Motion have helped both our in-event evaluation process, as well the compilation of our post-event scouting reports – and they're also a tool for our players to learn more about their measured and collected data, that can be applied to improve upon their game.

Finally, masks are mandatory during non-baseball activity. We will facilitate a contact-less check-in. Staff will wear masks throughout the event. Hand sanitizer stations will be accessible. Wear baseball clothes; assigned and numbered PBR jerseys will be provided.

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