Underclass Invitational: Quick Hits


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

The Underclass Invitational is one of Illinois’ most highly anticipated events on the PBR Illinois showcase calendar. The invitation-only event for the state’s top 2022 and 2023 prospects was held on Feb. 16, at The MAX in McCook, Ill. Over 110 of Illinois’ best freshman and sophomores represented themselves at the sold-out event last weekend.

As expected, this was an absolutely loaded event that yielded to us a brand new crop of underclass talent to follow as they continue maturing and developing at the high school level. Specifically, there were a number of PBR-event debutants, an ample amount of high-follow arms, as well as a countless number of uncommitted prospects in both the '22 and '23 class to keep an eye on moving forward.

Keep on reading below for our staff’s rapid analysis regarding the Underclass Invitational. We’ll share additional analysis in the coming days with a more statistical focus, too, with complete position-by-position analysis and video slated to be posted in the coming weeks.

QUICK HITS

HIGH-LEVEL UNCOMMITTED INFIELDERS

There were plenty of young infielders with high-ceilings to choose from at the event but when looking at 2022s; Christian Holmes (De La Salle) and Estevan Moreno (Montini) separated themselves from the pack. 

+ Holmes continues to chisel up his 6-foot, 180-pound frame, showed above-average foot speed running a 6.85 60 and has a chance to be an offensive force who could also play a high-level shortstop. Prospects with that kind of toolset are hard to find in the Midwest, let alone the country. 

+ Moreno has a physically-advanced, well-proportioned, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame with more strength to come, that would most likely profile him as an offensive third baseman but he ran a 6.89, has smooth actions and can play on the move, which could keep him at shortstop moving forward. Offensively, he has a loose, strong swing with present pull-side power that could turn into all-field power in the future. With his play over the summer and the showing once again this past Sunday, he has established himself as a high-end 2022 prospect in Illinois.

The 2023 crop of infielders was arguably more impressive than the ‘22s with multiple players showcasing the ability to play at a high level on the left-side of the diamond moving forward. Four that jump off the page immediately are Ryan Jefferson (Providence Catholic), Tommy Atkinson (St. Rita), J.R. Nelson (Stevenson) and Jorgie Vazquez (Mount Carmel). 

+ Jefferson has a moxie and confidence in all parts of his game, a loose, athletic left-handed swing and advanced defensive actions fit for shortstop. 

+ Atkinson is a twitchy-strong athlete with bat speed at the plate and bouncy, active feet on the infield. 

+ Nelson is a defensive-minded middle infielder with confident hands, advanced range and body control as well as an accurate, strong arm. 

+ Vazquez, who also showed well on the mound, is a natural middle infield defender with smooth actions, sure-hands and bat speed at the plate.

A PAIR OF HIGH-LEVEL 2022 UNCOMMITTED OUTFIELDERS

Angelo Luna (St. Laurence) and Jordan Skolmar (Stevenson) came out of Sunday’s event as two high-follow uncommitted 2022s that should garner plenty of interest moving forward. 

+ Luna has been on the radar for awhile but his game continues to take major strides everytime we see him. The athletic, 5-foot-11, 155-pound, right-handed hitter, ran a 6.72 (.32 seconds better than his previous high), was 91 mph from the outfield (4 mph increase) and was 96 mph off the tee (11 mph increase). Besides the numbers, Luna has high-level outfield actions that could fit at all three spots and has a fluid swing with bat speed and feel for the barrel. 

+ Skolmar made a lasting impression at his first ever PBR event. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound, strong, muscular right-handed hitter was the toolsiest uncommitted prospect in attendance; 6.71 60, 94 mph from the outfield and 97 mph exit velocity. Skolmar has plenty of skill to go along with those eye-popping numbers. Offensively, he has present bat speed, swings with intent, looking to drive the ball into the pull-side gap. Defensively, he plays through the baseball in rhythm and has natural outfield actions. 

TWO-WAY TALENT

A trio of 2022s that look to be able to stick as two-way players for the time being were RHP/1B Nicholas Kolze (Romeoville), C/RHP Tony Pluta (St. Viator) and RHP/SS Luka Radicevich (Joliet Catholic). 

+ Kolze has a strong 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame, fastball up to 89 mph and paired it with an aggressive curveball that flashed downer action at 74-78 mph. At the plate, Kolze has a relaxed look in the box, fluid rhythm, uphill path and power potential. 

+ Pluta has a short, quick arm action that played well on the mound and behind the plate. On the mound Pluta peppered the zone with a lively, easy fastball that sat mostly 83-84 mph, touching 85 and showed feel for a three-pitch mix. Behind the plate he topped at 80 mph, tied for the top number on the day and recorded a low pop time of 2.00.

+ Radicevich was another two-way prospect with a live, quick arm and upside to his game. On the mound, the wiry-athlete has a quick, twitchy arm and fastball that sat mostly 86-87 mph. His separator is a sharp, tight breaking ball that he throws with intent at 75-78 mph. As a position player he has a fast right-handed bat with surprising pop and plays with bounce and active feet on the infield. 

When looking at the two-way performances in the 2023 class, the biggest winner belongs to RHP/INF Ryan Hussey (Providence Catholic). Hussey, more than anything, emerged as a high-upside arm in the 2023 class. The well-proportioned, right-hander has an easy, athletic and quick arm that sat 81-82 mph, touching 83 and projects for much more velocity to come as he fills out that 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame. Hussey also throws a curveball with depth on an 11/5 plane as well as a deceptive changeup with feel down in the zone. Positionally he has sure hands on the infield, plenty of arm for the left-side and an easy right-handed swing with fluidity throughout.

RIGHT-HANDED ARMS STILL ON THE MARKET

+ Of all the uncommitted 20222 right-handed arms in attendance, Jack Bach (Normal University), may have put together the most impressive bullpen session. Bach has a physical, wide-shouldered 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and a clean, quick, uninterrupted arm action that works from a high ¾ slot. He pounded the zone with a late, hard-running fastball at 86-88 mph with relative ease. He also showed a polished three-pitch mix, including a 12/6 curveball that has taken huge strides since our last look. Bach’s changeup is currently an above-average offering with advanced feel, especially from the wind up. Bach’s performance elevates him as one of the top available arms in the class.

A quartet of physical right-handed arms were in attendance in Ysen Useni (Crystal Lake South, 2022), Alex Alberico (Providence Catholic, 2022), Roger Simon (Loyola Academy) and Kolze, who was mentioned above. 

+ Useni has a broad-chested, 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, long, quick arm and sat 86-87 mph with his fastball.

+ Alberico, has strength throughout his 6-foot, 195-pound frame and live arm that sat 87 mph and touched 89. His arm strength was also on display from the outfield as well, where he topped at 93 mph. 

+ Simon has a wide-shouldered, athletic frame and easy fastball that touched 85 mph multiple times. Simon also showed present feel for a three-pitch repertoire.

Alongside the physical right-handers were a plethora of athletic, uncommitted right-handed arms in both the 2022 and 2023 class: Kaiser Quick (Metamora, 2022), Kyle Rossy (Glenbard West, 2022), Abram Wills (Coal City, 2022), Caleb Diver (Dunlap, 2023) and Andrew Ressler (Huntley, 2023).

+ Quick is listed at an athletic 6-foot-1, 170-pounds and features a long, quick arm action from a ¾ window. Quick throws all three of his offerings with aggression, including an 84-85 mph with life and a sharp, sweeping breaking ball with swing-and-miss potential at 75-78 mph. 

+ Rossy has a 6-foot-3, 195-pound, live, strong-body and one of the more interesting arm actions on the day. Rossy currently lacks polish but his loose, whippy, live arm and fastball that topped at 87 mph deserve a follow. Rossy has a high-upside and seemingly much more velocity to come.

+ Wills has a compact, strong, 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame, repeats his full wind up, cross-fire delivery and sat mostly 87-88 mph, touching 89 with an advanced three-pitch arsenal.

+ Diver and Ressler were two of the more interesting freshman arms in attendance. Both threw a high-volume of strikes, ran their fastballs up to 83 mph and have clean arms that project for velocity jumps as they physically mature.

LEFT-HANDED ARMS

To add to the collection of high-end uncommitted arms at the event were four talented left-handed pitchers; Gus Lucas (Washington, 2022), Dominic Corgiat (Fenwick, 2022), Shane Curtin (Mount Carmel, 2022) and Brady Louck (Plainfield East, 2023). 

+ Lucas is an extra-large, imposing, 6-foot-5, 197-pounds, multi-sport athlete who has seen his fastball jump up in a big way since last summer. Lucas sat anywhere from 83-86 mph, with his last three pitches coming in at the latter. The most impressive part of Lucas’ ‘pen was the advancements he has made to his off-speed, including a curveball thrown with high-level of aggression that was mostly 77-81 mph, flashing tight spin and a chance to a legitimate out-pitch in the future. He also matched it with feel for a late-fading changeup at 72-75 mph. The sky is limit for this talented left-hander.

+ Corgiat, Curtin and Louck all sat in the low-80’s and have the clean arms, quality secondary and upsides to warrant strong follows moving forward.

COMMITTED WINNERS

+ Arguably the biggest winner of the entire event was Tennessee commit, OF Alex Stanwich (Lincoln-Way East, 2022). Stanwich, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound, chiseled, highly-athletic, tooled-up prospect, burst onto the national scene this past summer at the Future Games and took it to another level at the Underclass Invitational. Stanwich came out of the gates running a 6.58 60, second-best at the event. He then followed up with the loudest round of BP on the day. To top it off he showcased athletic outfield actions and premium arm strength, topping at 95 mph. Stanwich continues to establish himself as one of the top 2022’s not only in Illinois but in the country.

+ Speaking of big winners, RHP/SS Owen Murphy (Riverside-Brookfield, 2022; Notre Dame) was right up there with Stanwich when it comes to head-turning performances. Murphy has always been highly-regarded for his athletic, quick arm and ability to spin the baseball. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound, two-way talent, clearly put in work this off-season, as his fastball velocity has climbed from the mid-80’s to 89-91 mph, touching 92, in the matter of months. Murphy matched his dynamic fastball with his usual advanced off-speed offerings. As if his bullpen was not enough, Murphy made a strong case to be regarded as a potential two-way player moving forward. Murphy has a simple, easy right-handed swing that stays through the zone a long time and showed the ability to stick on the infield defensively. 

+ Recent Kentucky commit, 1B Daniel Pacella (Mundelein, 2022) looks to be one of the top left-handed bats in the state and possesses present pull-side power. Pacella has a repeatable stroke with strong hands, natural lift and produced the top exit velocity of the event, 107 mph off a tee. 

+ Catchers Nate Voss (Marist; Michigan) and Zander Buchan (Maine South; South Carolina) confirmed their status as two of the top catching prospects in the 2022 class. Voss is a smooth athlete who makes everything look easy and clean on the diamond. Behind the plate he is quick, calm and repeatable out of the crouch with an accurate arm. At the plate, Voss has loose hands and works gap-to-gap. Buchan is a switch-hitter who stood out most notably from the left-side on Sunday. Buchan has quick, strong hands, stays short to the ball, on plane and has a knack for the barrel. Behind the plate, he is clean and directional out of the chute and throws a true, accurate ball. 

+ Another catcher who continues to show impressive tools and a high-upside left-handed bat is Missouri commit Charlie Marisca (Grayslake Central). Marisca has an athletic, 6-foot, 180-pound frame, runs a 7.18 60, is 80 mph from the crouch and recorded a low pop time of 1.94. Marisca looks to elevate the baseball with a short, uphill stroke and present twitch in swing.

+ Oklahoma got a good one in 6-foot-6, 219-pound, LHP Julien Hachem (Mount Carmel). Hachem emerged this fall at the PBR Fall Championships where he attacked hitters with a lively 83-86 mph fastball and committed to Oklahoma a few weeks after. Sunday was Hachem’s first PBR event and his stuff has taken a step forward since the fall. His fastball has ticked up to 84-87 mph, touching 88 and has the same lively finish it had in the fall. Where he really impressed was the action and feel he demonstrated with his off-speed offerings. Hachem’s best secondary was an aggressive curveball with tight spin and a short, late wrinkle at 76-78 mph. 

+ Louisville commit, RHP Ethan Patera (Downers Grove South, 2022) continues to see his stuff and velocity tick up. The long-limbed, high-waisted Patera has a loose, upside arm and topped at 92 mph with his fastball. Patera pairs it with an aggressive slider at 77-80 mph and power changeup at 84-87 mph. Patera reaffirmed his status as one of the top power arms in the Midwest.

+ When it comes to 2023 commits, 6-foot-2, 170-pound, Indiana commit, catcher TJ Schuyler (Antioch), impressed in his first Illinois PBR event. Schuyler has a confidence and ease to his game that is well beyond his years. At the plate, he has a quiet, easy, balanced right-handed swing and lined balls to all fields. Schuyler looks to be one of the top prospects in the Illinois’ 2023 class. 

2022 OFFENSIVE BACKSTOPS

+ Will Plattner (Glenwood) and Victor Izquierdo (Lockport) were two offensive catchers who also worked out defensively at first base. Both have a chance to be middle of the order type of bats who have the athleticism to move to first base when not behind the plate. Plattner has a balanced right-handed swing that stays in the zone a long time and uses the whole field. Izquierdo has an athletic, broad-shouldered, 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame, swings with intent and was barreling balls with authority throughout his round of BP. Defensively, he has athletic feet, potentially best suited for first base but he has made impressive strides behind the plate since our last look. 

ELITE SPEED

+ Three uncommitted outfielders; Hogan Schmitt (Yorkville, 2022), Myles Supurgeci (Mount Carmel, 2022) and Mikey Murphy (Minooka, 2023) showed off elite speed in the 60-yard dash on Sunday. Schmitt ran an event-best 6.45, putting him in a class of his own when it comes to top-end speed. Supurgeci came in with a 6.66 60 while Murphy, only a freshman, ran a 6.68 and took one of the top BP rounds on the day, when it comes to 2023s.

The event provided an immense amount of high-level talent in the 2022 and 2023 class that were not mentioned above. There was simply too much talent to touch on all the impressive performances from the day in our “quick hit” look.

Stay tuned over the coming days for a statistical breakdown from the event along with position-by-position analysis and videos in the coming weeks.

CLICK HERE for a look at the complete roster from the event. 

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