Prep Baseball Report

Illinois Signing Day: SEC Outlook

By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

On Nov. 8, thousands of high school baseball players across the country signed their National Letters of Intent to lock in their official commitments to their respective schools, with hundreds of these signings hailing from Illinois.

Over the next few weeks, we will spend some time highlighting the names from Illinois that signed their NLI to play baseball at the Division I level. We’ll do so by breaking these names up by conference, starting with the Big Ten which you can find HERE, and the ACC which can be found HERE. As well as the Big 12, HERE.

Today, we'll be looking at the players from Illinois that signed to play at schools in the SEC with videos, scouting reports and more, below. 


A pair of Illinois’ natives signed with a Wildcats’ program that’s perennially been competitive in the loaded SEC - MIF Tyler Bell (Lincoln-Way East) and RHP/INF Nate Harris (Yorkville): 

+ You could make a serious case that few in the nation boosted their professional prospect status this summer than Bell, who stood out at multiple stops on the national circuit, including at the Area Code Games and the inaugural Prep Baseball All-American Game. Bell was unquestionably one of the biggest winners in the latter event, bringing a polished and positively contributing skill-set to Milwaukee’s American Family Field. He’s a switch-hitter with barrel feel and fluidity from both sides of the plate that can also flat-out pick it up the middle at either infield spot. Bell cracked the top-30 prospects in our most recent national rankings update for the 2024 class and he figures to be a highly viewed name for professional teams this upcoming spring season. 

From 10/3/23: “...starting in a slightly wide, open base, the natural switch-hitter utilizes a quiet, shoulder height pre-pitch load with a quick leg trigger. Short to the ball with a loose finish from both sides while creating loft with ease. Equally present bat-to-ball skills but boasts massive power potential from the left side. Plus bat speed with lean strength in the frame that continues to grow can allow Bell to carry a strong hit/power combo going forward. A true shortstop long-term with fluid actions in all directions and easy transfers. Plays confident and shows high, situational baseball IQ. Arm strength to make every play needed and can be accurate from multiple arm angles. 6.68 runner with a great first step and straight line speed. Showing the potential of a day one middle-infielder.”

Tyler Bell

+ Harris has plenty of sheer power packed within a professional 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. There’s no shortage of physicality on either side for the Foxes’ two-way star, as we’d heard reports that Harris was up to 96 mph this summer with his fastball while pitching in the low-to-mid-90s as well. He’s flashed noticeable bat strength at our events in the past, particularly at the PBR Future Games with Team Illinois, and has also ran as fast as a 6.8 60 with a 92 mph arm on the infield to pair. With his size, strength, and athleticism, Harris offers upside for the Wildcats on either side of the ball. 

Nate Harris


Head coach Kerrick Jackson and the Tigers’ new regime are bringing in two arms from Illinois with RHP Ethan Bagwell (Collinsville) and LHP Justyn Hart (Lincoln-Way East) set to make their way to Columbia next fall: 

+ A former quarterback, Bagwell is another big-bodied and highly physical presence on the mound in this 2024 class, listed at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds. He’s primarily a two-pitch guy that enjoys attacking hitters with a potent arsenal that we saw generate plenty of swing-and-miss on our summer circuit. We’ve seen Bagwell up to 93 in our looks, pitching anywhere from the upper-80s to low-90s, with an aggressive fastball that jumps out of his hands with life, primarily up in the zone, though he will cut it at times. His go-to secondary is a low-80s slider that plays on his fastball’s plane at times with late break and subtle sweep. He’s able to spot it around the zone for strikes, though he’s best turning to it for whiffs, especially to right-handed hitters. Bagwell has the stuff to make an impact for the Tigers in a hurry as they look to make some noise in the SEC. 

Ethan Bagwell

+ Hart has size and strength on the mound in his own right, toeing the rubber at 6-foot-2, 224-pounds. He’s a simple and controlled mover downhill with a low-effort all-around operation, pumping his fastball in the mid-80s, while touching 87 mph, at The Rock this fall. Hart throws his changeup at fastball arm speed and from a similar slot, creating natural fade, and he was able to spin a mid-70s breaking ball with depth for swing-and-miss in our most recent look.

Justyn Hart


The Volunteers have established themselves as a premier program on a national level under head coach Tony Vitello and a lot of that has come because of their success recruiting the Midwestern states. 

Vitello and company dipped into Illinois for this 2024 class and locked up RHP Aidan Hayse (Joliet Catholic), who’s a free-flowing mover at 6-foot-4, 175-pounds with upside stuff to pair. Hayse’s arm plays loose with arm speed from a ¾ slot and presently produces low-90s heat with his fastball, though he’s plenty capable of sustaining more velocity as he continues to mature physically. Hayse showed well at the Area Code Games in San Diego this summer, drawing praise from Ian Smith for his performance: 

From 8/23/23: “...a brief, but loud look at the Tennessee commit. Simple, repeatable mechanics with whippy, explosive arm speed. Fastball lived 89-93 mph, touching 94 with some deceptive late life and command to paint the corners. Low-80s slider shows good tilt that creates depth. Hayse will deploy a firm, mid-80s changeup to RHH that flashes as a potential above-average pitch down the line. High-level athlete with both pitchability and projection remaining.”

Aidan Hayse