Prep Baseball Report

Illinois 2025 Rankings Updated

Drew Locascio
Illinois/Wisconsin Scouting Supervisor

After another busy winter with a number of Preseason ID events across the state taking place, along with the Preseason All-State: Upperclass the 2025 rankings in Illinois deserved a shakeup. There were a number of players who made jumps over the winter and even into the first part of the spring season but many of the names at the top of the rankings remain the same.


LHP Jack Bauer (Lincoln-Way East; Virginia) and UTIL Jaden Fauske (Nazareth; Louisville) still hold down the top two spots in the class. Bauer is a smooth left-hander that was up to 95 mph this past September at the All-American game while Fauske is a multi-sport athlete who does it all for Nazareth. Fauske is athletic enough to play pretty much any position on the field and is one of the top bats in the Midwest.

The biggest move in the top-10 was made by LHP Cameron Appenzeller (Glenwood; South Carolina commit). Appenzeller, who now sits at No. 3, continues to make big strides on the mound and he arguably has as high of a ceiling as anyone in the class. We were able to get a look at Appenzeller early this spring and here is a scout blog entry from the start:

3/15/24: South Carolina commit. 6-foot-5, 180-pound, long, loose-levered, left-handed pitcher currently ranked No. 10 in the Illinois’ 2025 class. Has been on the rise for awhile now and continues to improve with every look. Got the start on the mound and continued his ascent as one of the top prospects in the class. Long, loose, clean and quick arm that plays from a high ¾ slot. Extremely easy overall operation and velocity out of the hand. First pitch of the game was 90 mph, settled in at mostly 87-89 mph throughout. Fastball was around the zone, still harnessing overall command but pitch plays with life and late arm-side-run; 2300+ rpm. Flashed an advanced breaking ball that plays with sweeper characteristics and all kinds of depth and horizontal action off a 2/8 plane at 77-78 mph (2200+ rpm). Chance to be a legitimate out-pitch at the next level. Went to a changeup a handful of times; 81-83 mph. Went three hitless innings, struck out six and walked three. 30 of his 55 pitches were strikes. Overall, high-floor/high-ceiling prospect that looks to be just scratching the surface of his immense upside. Should continue to see big gains from this talented three-sport athlete moving forward.

Following Appenzeller are familiar names in the top-10; No. 4 C Quinn Schambow (Libertyville); Oklahoma State), No. 5 3B CJ Deckinga (Minooka; Michigan State), No. 6 C Enzo Infelise (Providence Catholic; Oklahoma).

RHP Andrew Winslow (Triad; Oklahoma State) moves up two spots to No. 7 in the state. We were able to get an early look at the 6-foot-6, 195-pound, multi-sport athlete this spring, who was fresh off basketball season. Here is the scout blog entry from his start:

3/16/24: Oklahoma State commit and one of the top arms in Illinois, regardless of class. Long, lanky, and lean-limbed 6-foot-6, 195-pound athlete, averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Knights’ basketball team this winter. Quick up-tempo drop/drive type delivery, hunched at balance point, stays closed to front footstrike. Strides in-line to target, finishes through release and controls his levers well for age. Long loose and continuous arm path that comes out of a ¾ window. Fastball touched 91 mph in the first, sat 88-90 mph throughout, touching 90 mph again in the fourth inning. Starting to hold velocity more; at this time last year, peaked at 88 mph early while settling at 84-85 mph. Flashed late run at times, stayed off the barrel and induced ground balls at a high rate, including two inning-ending double plays. Wasn’t around the strike zone as often as we’ve seen in the past in this look, but did execute when necessary. Showed a true lane changing sinker at 86-88 mph with heavy horizontal movement, covering the entire plate at times. Sharp swing-and-miss sweep on a 75-78 mph slider, grabbed several uncomfortable whiffs out of the zone against right-handed hitters. Worked around a changeup at 83-85 mph that favored the glove-side corner in this look. Didn’t have his best stuff but still possesses one of the highest ceilings on the mound in the entire state, regardless of class.

RHP/OF Joseph Chiarodo (Edwadsville; Alabama), SS Ethan Moore (Oak Park-River Forest; Louisville) and RHP Austin Musso (Mascoutah; Kansas) round out a loaded top-10.

We have been fortunate enough to get multiple looks at all three of these prospects early this spring with Chiarodo putting together a highly-impressive performance on the mound at the Kickoff Classic where he was pounding the zone while sitting in the low-90s with advanced off-speed offerings.


Now at No. 11 Conor Essenburg (Lincoln-Way West; Kansas State) is another impressive two-way prospect who sits towards the top of the class. Previously in the top-10, Essenburg’s value has not changed in our minds. His slight drop is mainly due to how big of jumps some of these other prospects made to warrant moving up. Essenburg does it all for Lincoln-Way West in the spring; he is the ace of the staff, sits in the middle of the lineup and plays arguably the best defensive first base in the state when not on the mound.

LHP Joe Olson (St. Laurence; Louisville), OF Trey Meyers (New Trier; Indiana) and RHP Connor Blue (O’Fallon; Cincinnati) are a couple of other noteworthy names towards the top of the class.

LHP Lucas Grant (Joliet Catholic) is still uncommitted and has risen more than anyone in the state since the last update. Grant emerged as a high-follow arm at the Preseason All-State and we have been able to cross-check him twice already this spring. He continues to solidify himself as a need-to-know name in the state that seems to be just now coming into his own. Here is our Scout Blog entry from his performance at the Kickoff Classic:

3/15/24:Uncommitted. 6-foot, 185-pound, left-handed pitcher, currently on the rise in the Illinois’ 2025 class. Showed well this winter at the Preseason All-State and has now backed it up with two quality performances this spring. Came out of the bullpen in this game and was almost perfect in his three innings of work, allowing one hit, no walks and struck out six. 29 of his 42 pitches were strikes, working primarily behind a lively fastball that gets all over hitters at 87-89, T90 mph early on, settling at 86-88. Worked almost exclusively with his late running fastball that he works at the bottom of the zone. Rarely went to his slider which played at 77 mph with a short, late horizontal wrinkle. Overall, easy operation with feel and presence on the mound. Should be a highly-sought after left-handed arm in the Illinois’ 2025 class.

RHPs Lincoln Causero (Hersey; Xavier), Tommy Kramkowski (Belleville East; uncommitted) and Luke Mensik (Lincoln-Way Central; Xavier) are a trio of arms on the rise coming out of the winter and have climbed in our rankings as a result.

Causero did his work at the Preseason All-State where he worked athletically and clean down the mound while running his fastball up to 92.3 mph.

Kramkowski was highly-interesting in a recent start against Mascoutah where he touched 91 mph and showed advanced spin. Read Diego Solares’ scout blog entry below:

3/20/24: Uncommitted, set to take a notable jump in our Illinois’ 2025 rankings as one of the top junior arms still on the market in Illinois. 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame with plenty of projection to come, young look. Athletic and intentful mover, stacks onto his backside and rides it down the mound. Level shoulders, strong front side, glove arm tucks. Finishes in-line to target, does spin off towards the first base side through release at times. Quick arm stays short and compact on the backside, high ¾ finish, accelerates out front. Fastball touched 91 mph in the first inning, played at 87-90 mph with life and jump out the hand over a three-inning stint on a cold day. Supreme confidence in both of his breaking balls, will throw them in any count to any hitter. Spun slider at 77-79 mph with hard lateral action, comes out of the same arm window as his fastball, swing-and-miss upside. More arch and depth to his curveball, 72-73 mph, landed it for strikes more effectively in the second and third inning. Rounded out his arsenal with a fading changeup at 77-78 mph that he threw to left-handed hitters, feel for it, effective on the arm-side corner. An on-the-rise arm with three pitches that looks every bit the part of another high-end arm to follow from southern Illinois.

Mensik matched up against Ryan Sloan, the No. 1 arm in the 2024 class, the other day and went toe-to-toe with him. Mensik pounded the zone and was spinning one of the better breaking balls in the class as well, something we have become accustomed to seeing.

3/25/24: Xavier commit and currently ranked No. 36 in the state, Mensick was stellar in his outing for the Knights, earning the win and tossing five innings of one run (unearned) ball. He is a loose and athletic mover down the mound at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, pitching with a short and compact arm stroke. Mensick pounded the strike zone (67% strikes) throughout his outing, working with a fastball/slider pitch-mix. His fastball played with some sink at 87-88 mph (T89) in the first inning before settling in at 84-86 mph in the later parts of his outing. He was able to induce weak contact and get whiffs with his fastball throughout the start, while tossing in an 11/5-shaped slider that played with downer action at 75-77 mph with 2500+ rpm at times to go as his out-pitch. Mensik will give the Knights a chance to win every time he takes the ball, and will be worth following throughout the rest of the spring. Final Line: W, 5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 0 ER, 8 K.

SS/RHP Brayden Zilis (Minooka) was another uncommitted junior who made a huge rise in the rankings and needs to be followed closely moving forward. Zilis made a big statement at the Preseason All-State and has backed it up so far this spring. Here is what we had on Zilis at the Preseason All-State:

…..came away one of the event’s biggest all-around winners over the weekend. At the plate, the left-handed hitter displayed a loose stroke with a flat path, staying through the hitting zone a long time with extension through the ball, swing really projects as he continues to add on strength; maxing out at 99.9 mph for his EV while averaging 96.2 mph. he‘s an athletic defender on the infield, boasting soft hands that play out front with a clean transfer. His arm is quick to release, playing from multiple angles and on the move, topping out at 89 mph. Zilis was strong on the mound as well, running his fastball up to 89 mph with sinking action to the arm-side. He complemented the fastball with a short, sweeping slider at 76-77 mph that had the second-highest max spin rate of the event at 2777 rpm.

RHP’s Brandon Shannon (McHenry), Michael Furmanek (Plainfield East) and Gino Zagorac (Benet) are three uncommitted arms who are all new in this rankings update and warrant strong follows.

Shannon, now at No. 35, emerged at the McHenry Preseason ID this winter. Here was our quick hit note on the rising junior:

….. gave our staff an eye-opening first look on Saturday. He has a highly projectable frame, coming in at 6-foot-3, 160-pounds with long limbs and a high-waist. He has an easy and athletic delivery, and there’s plenty of upside in his operation alone. The right-hander cruised with his fastball around 89-90 mph, pounding the zone with running action and finish, playing with easy life from his high ¾ release. His curveball and slider both have out-pitch potential, with his curveball playing around 75-79 mph (T2664 RPM) and his slider sitting around 77-80 mph (T2411 RPM), delivering both offerings with arm-speed and late bite. To round off his arsenal he went to a splitter in the 83-85 mph range, falling off the table with running action to his arm-side. High-upside arm with his best days still yet to come.

Furmanek re-classified from a 2024 to a 2025 and slots in at No. 44 in the updated list. Here is a scout blog entry we had from Furmanek’s outing at the Rock Fall Championships:

9/22/23: …gave one of the more intriguing looks on the entire weekend. Listed at a highly projectable 6-foot-6, 195-pounds, Furmanek still has plenty filling out left in his frame. The uncommitted right-hander has a deceptive crossfire delivery, and when paired with his low ¾ release makes for an incredibly tough look for opposing hitters, especially right-handers. His fastball cruised at 84-88 mph, still touching 88 mph in the fourth inning and playing with extreme run and sink through the zone, thrown to both sides of the plate. To pair off the fastball, he went to a 10/4 sweeping slider, thrown at 75-76 mph. Furmanek did not allow a single hit or run over his four innings of work.

Zagorac, now No. 62, popped up in a start for Benet at the Kickoff Classic. Here was Diego Solares had on Zagorac from that start:

3/15/24: Uncommitted 6-foot-3, 180-pound highly projectable frame that’s set to make his debut next time we update the state’s 2025 rankings. Started on the mound for the Redwings in a win over Washington. Worked exclusively out of the stretch. Lead leg lifts into a coiled position at balance point, some stack onto the backside, uses his long levers to get down the mound. Some feel to repeat, should continue to improve in that regard as he grows comfortable with his frame. Short tight arm action, high ¾ slot. Fastball plays clean out the hand, touching 90 mph in the first, pitching at 86-89 mph early before settling at 83-85 mph. Should continue to tick up from a velocity perspective as he adds strength and mass to his stature. Tight spin on breaking ball at 74-78 mph, developing feel. An upside uncommitted arm to know in the state’s 2025 class.

Stay tuned in the coming days for a more in-depth look at the Illinois’ 2025 rankings, which should include a podcast where we go into more depth on the class as a whole.

CLICK HERE for the updated 2025 Illinois rankings.