Underclass Invitational: Quick Hits


Illinois Scouting Staff

The Underclass Invitational is in the books and yet again this invite-only event unveiled some of the top young talent in the state. Over 120 of the top 2020 and 2021 prospects in the state converged last Sunday and many proved to be high-follow prospects in their respective classes. 

After catching our breathe and taking a look at our notes here is an early and brief look at some of the top takeaways from the day. 

Two-Way Potential

Being able to stick as a two-way player at a high-level is a rarity but the following prospects should not give up on it any time soon.

+ 2021 RHP/3B Vytas Valincius (St. Laurence) ranked No. 35 overall, solidified himself as one of the top freshmen in the Midwest and the country. 6-foot-3, 235-pound, Valincius has an extra-large, imposing frame and opened eyes on the mound and at the plate. On the mound he pounded the zone with an advanced three-pitch mix and fastball that topped at 87 mph. At the plate, he has grown man strength and routinely made hard contact to the pull side.

+ The highest ranked 2020 prospect in attendance was INF/RHP Alec Gonzalez (Mount Carmel), currently ranked No. 5. Gonzalez started his day on the mound where he topped at 87 mph and then played the infield with confidence and moxy while showing off a plus arm for his age at 88 mph across the diamond.

+ 6-foot-4, 164-pound, RHP/INF Aidan Stewart (Marian Catholic, 2020) had one of the more impressive frames of the event. The extremely long and lean Stewart sat an easy 83-84 mph on the mound and has a loose, repeatable swing at the plate. On the infield Stewart plays with bounce and is sure handed.

+ Freshman RHP/3B Nick Demarco (St. Charles North) was yet another prospect who showed just as well on the mound as in the field. The athletic Demarco has a loose, clean arm on the mound, was up to 84 mph and can spin a breaking ball. The right-handed hitter then took one of the more consistent rounds of batting practice on the day. He has a simple swing with bat speed and consistently barreled baseballs to the pull-side gap. Defensively, he has the hands and arm strength to stay on the left side of the diamond.

2020 ARMS ON THE RISE

Several premium available arms were on display in the Illinois 2020 class Sunday, many looking primed for the regular season and likely to be heavily recruited this spring and summer.

+ LHP Noah DeLuga (Lake Zurich), RHP Connor Gill (Oswego East), RHP Eben Heine (Plainfield North), RHP Cooper Herold (Minooka), RHP Zach Hise (Joliet Catholic), RHP Drew Detmers(Chatham-Glenwood), RHP Connor Best (Coal City) and RHP Dylan Wolff (Joliet West) all touched 86 mph or better.

+ RHP Connor Gill showed some of the best stuff in the hitting zone, while RHP Eben Heine has one of the higher velocity ceilings in the class, showcasing an absolutely electric arm.

+ Just outside of that 86 mph mark was RHP Drew Rudsinski (Tri-Valley), who at first look, graded out as one of the better arms in attendance. Rudsinski has easy arm speed with a high upside frame at 6-foot-3, 185-pounds.

+ RHP Jared Novak (Benet) joins Rudzinski as one of those arms that will be in the upper echelon of velocity sooner rather than later. Novak is a long limbed 6-foot-4, 190-pounds who gets good extension with a loose live arm.

+ RHP Mason Burns (Normal Community) is the epitome of projection, at 6-foot-2, 165-pounds, a young frame, clean and easy arm with feel for three pitches, Burns is surely one to keep on your radar.

+ Keep a close watch on RHP’s Ernie Day (Taft) and Eddie Spoelman (Illiana Christian) this year. Both have clean easy arm speed and frames that can handle plenty of additional strength.

Committed Guys

While the event largely featured the top available 2020 and 2021 prospects from around the state, a quartet of sophomores were in attendance who have already made verbal commitments to the next level, and showed no signs of resting on their laurels.

+ RHP Ben Wiegman (Carmel, 2020, Louisville) lit it up on the mound. Wiegman has one of the more electric arms in the state, regardless of class, and showed it Sunday as he did not throw a fastball under 90 mph, topping at 91 mph.

+ An Illinois-Chicago commit, RHP Ben Hernandez (De La Salle, 2020) put together one of the sharper bullpen sessions of the day. Hernandez projected a starter’s profile at the next level. His effortless delivery and arm action produce an upper 80’s fastball and well above average feel for three pitches while his body continues to lean out and get more and more athletic.

+ INF Anthony Mangano (Lake Zurich, 2020, Iowa) and C Trevor Davis (Danville, 2020, Illinois State) showed two of the better left-handed bats of the day. Davis possesses premium catch and throw skills while Mangano’s infield actions continue to improve.

LHH MIDDLE INFIELDERS

There were plenty of intriguing young infielders on hand at the event but the following players possess the separator of a left-handed bat.

+ 2020s Anthony Livermore (Mount Carmel) and Connor Hincks (Benet) are more than capable of sticking up the middle at the next level and both has loose, easy swings with feel for the barrel.

Kevin McCormick (St. Laurence, 2021) and Johnny Gonsalves (Tinley Park), may have more work to do than the two aforementioned infielders to stick in the middle of the diamond but their left-handed swings are loose and project.

2021 LHH’s

Left-handed hitting is always a highly-sought after commodity and a handful of freshman with intriguing left-handed bats emerged on Sunday.

+ 1B Dylan Scafuri (Romeoville) and 1B Alejandro Holguin (St. Rita) have present bat strength and power potential.

+ OF Isaiah Thompson (Sacred-Heart Griffin) and OF/C Zamarion Hatcher (Kenwood) are athletic, twitchy left-handed hitters who profile more at the top of the order.

2021 CATCHERS STANDOUT

+ The quartet of 2021 catchers, mentioned in last week’s preview story, Alex Calarco (New Trier), Camden Janik (Wauconda), Brian Rapanan (Warren) and Mason Roehr (Granite City), lived up to the hype on Sunday.  All four stood out defensively and showed promise with the bat. Calarco has all the tools to be a high-level talent and is a switch-hitter to boot. Rapanan, currently undersized, is dynamic behind the plate and had one of the cleanest and quickest transfers of the day.

MORE 2021s

+ SS Gallien Coupet (Homewood-Flossmoor) ran one of the top 60 times of the event, 6.84. On the infield he maintains body control on the move, has steady hands and an athletic, strong arm; 83 mph across the diamond. At the plate, he has a compact swing, fast bat and uses the middle of the field.

+ LHP Adam Dowler (Oswego East) was one of the top freshman arms in attendance. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound southpaw has an above-average three-pitch repertoire, loose quick arm action and topped at 82 mph.

CLICK HERE for a look at the entire roster.

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