Prep Baseball Report

Southwest Chicago Preseason ID: Quick Hits

By: Drew Locascio and Pete Hamot

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Prep Baseball Illinois staff hosted the first-ever Southwest Chicago Open at Go Pro Sports Dome in Minooka. This event was host to just under 30 players and served as a chance for our staff to see some of the talent in the surrounding area and beyond before the spring season kicks off. 

Stay tuned for more post-event content throughout the week and beyond, but for now let's dive into some of the standout players from Saturday’s showcase.


+ INF Jacob Gross (LaSalle-Peru, 2025) made a statement at his first Prep Baseball event. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound broad-shouldered right-handed hitter has apparently put on 40 pounds over the last year and the physicality at the plate was evident. Gross has a short, direct swing, repeats and was all over the barrel with authority throughout his round. Gross easily led the event in most of the offensive categories, including his 103.3 max exit velocity, 93.8 mph average and his max batted ball that traveled 374’. Gross has the makings to be a middle of the order type of bat at the next level and moved around well enough on the infield to believe he has a chance to stick at third base moving forward. Gross topped at 85 mph across and ran a 7.67 60. 2025 uncommitted prospect to know moving forward.

+ Nolan Kendall (Andrew, 2026), who’s brother is mentioned below as a two-way standout, came away from the event as a left-handed hitting outfielder to follow. After running a laser-timed 7.32 60, Nolan recorded the fourth highest average exit velocity of the event at 86.6 mph. It is a loose, quick swing that flashes whip and flick through the zone while staying flat with a whole field approach. Kendall led the event with a 23.8 mph average hand speed and his 28.1 g average rotational acceleration was second best of the event.   

+ INF/OF Dominic Stottler (United Township) is an upside prospect to know in the 2026 class. His high-waisted, athletic, 6-foot, 173-pound frame continues to tick up with every look and his movement patterns at the plate require a follow moving forward. The right-handed hitter is a clean mover with an athletic setup with a direct strong swing, 93.1 mph max exit velocity and ran a 7.33 laser-timed 60. Young, upside looking prospect with his best years yet to come.  

+  1B Josh Ziemer (Glenbard East) is yet another 2026 to make a name for himself at the event. Ziemer has a 5-foot-11, 205-pound, physical, compact build and his swing matches his stature. He stays compact and connected with loose, strong hands, natural lift through the zone and present bat strength. Ziemer registered a 93.9 mph max exit velocity while launching his furthest batted ball 334’. He was also top-5 in average bat speed at the event and moved around the first base bag with comfort.  

+ C Parker Zasada (Reavis, 2026) is another strong right-handed hitting catcher to know from the event. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound, barrel-chested backstop creates bat speed and leverage to the pull-side with the ball jumping off the barrel at times. His furthest batted ball traveled 357’ to go along with an 85.4 mph average exit velocity, T92.4 mph. He also ran a 7.20 60 and was 79 mph from the crouch with a low pop time of 1.94.  

+ INF Christian Clark (St. Rita, 2025) is a natural on the infield and continues to tick up everytime we get our eyes on him. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound, long-levered, projectable middle infielder is a smooth, fluid mover, gliding to a 7.12 60. He also moves with ease and body control on the infield, playing on the move with all kinds of comfort and an athletic arm action that can play from all different platforms. Clark has the actions and arm (85 mph) to stick on the left-side of the diamond at the next level. The right-handed hitter is also fluid and repeatable in the box, routinely living on the barrel with a line-drive approach. Another prospect who’s best years seem to be ahead of him. 

+ INF Ryan Keener (Minooka, 2026) was another infielder who put together a solid all-around day. The 7.16 runner showed a fluid swing from the right-side of the plate with feel for the barrel and a mature approach using the big part of the diamond throughout his round. He also looked natural on the infield playing to and through the baseball cleanly with soft, reliable hands and his arm played across at 80 mph.  


+ RHP/3B Ronan Owens (Lane Tech, 2026) emerged as a name-to-know from the event thanks to his strong showing on both sides of the ball. There’s plenty of upside in his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, as he has some strength already attached but looks to still have room to add on more as he matures. He moves well for his size with a simple/repeatable operation and easy effort throughout, delivering his offerings from a ¾ release. His showing on the mound was arguably the best of the day, as he worked his fastball up to 86 mph with run and finish through the zone, also controlling it around the zone throughout his ‘pen. He went to two different breaking balls to pair off the fastball; the first being an 11/5 curveball at 69-72 mph, playing with sharp action at times and some feel around the zone, playing off fastballs placed at the top of the zone. He also went to a shorter, more lateral slider with 10/4 shape to change looks, dumping it in mostly for strikes and occasionally to his arm-side to back-door lefties, playing at 71-73 mph. Despite his prowess on the mound, Owens should not put the bat down anytime soon as he took one of the more intriguing rounds of the day from the right-side of the plate. He creates bat speed with his long levers, stays on-plane and works gap-to-gap while averaging 85.9 mph off the bat. The 7.00 60 runner is an upside prospect to follow moving forward.  

+ Nolan Kendall’s brother, INF/RHP Caden Kendall (Andrew, 2026), came away one of the event’s biggest winners with a strong showing both as a position player and as an arm. Listed at 5-foot-10, 167-pounds, Kendall has some athleticism throughout his build while holding room to add on strength in the coming years. On the mound, Kendall has a controlled leg lift into balance point, working with a tall/fall lower-half that remains in-line down the mound. His arm plays with a long reach in the back before transitioning into a ¾ slot with some quickness out front. There’s still more left in the tank mechanically with Kendall, and he could see some jumps as he matures. His fastball played in the 83-86 mph range with running action to his arm-side, averaging over 14” with up to 17.6” of run. His go-to secondary was a big-breaking curveball that played with gradual action and 11/5 shape, sitting around 61-63 mph. His final offering was a running changeup with a similar profile to his fastball, sitting 69-72 mph with over 14” of run at times. Offensively, he operates with easy effort from the right side of the plate with quick hands, present twitch and bat speed while staying direct to the ball with a line-drive approach. Kendall’s furthest batted ball traveled 318’ while averaging 82.4 mph off the bat, T92.9 mph.  

+ UTIL Austin Aldrige (Seneca, 2024) is an uncommitted senior that gave an intriguing look over the weekend. He’s athletically built at 5-foot-11, 160-pounds with plenty of room to add on strength in the coming years. He flashed some impressive tools throughout the event, starting with his showing on the mound, as he ran his fastball up to 86 mph with an average IVB of 15.3 (T18.5). He can spin both his breaking balls at an above-average clip, with his slider spinning around 2500-2600 RPM and his curveball coming in around 2200-2300 RPM, landing both offerings for strikes 50% of the time. He also flashed some feel for his changeup, playing in the low-70s with mostly straight action.  

+ RHP/INF Shawn Krieps (Providence Catholic, 2025) will be a name to follow this coming spring for the Celtics. Listed at 6-foot, 170-pounds, Krieps has a lean build and wide shoulders, looking to have room to add on strength. He was impressive on the mound, working with an up-tempo delivery throughout, he gets into his legs and drives himself down the mound while consistently staying in-line. He has a compact and repeatable arm circle, delivering his offerings from a high ¾ slot. Krieps worked his fastball in the 80-82 mph range, playing with carry and arm-side life through the zone. To pair off his fastball he went to a sharp 11/5 curveball at 68-70 mph, playing with depth and some lateral sweep as well, displaying feel around the zone. He also went to a changeup at 74-76 mph, playing with a similar profile to his fastball. Offensively, the right-handed hitter flashed twitchy hands, a direct path and was on the barrel for much of his round. He also topped at 83 mph across the infield while playing with active feet and steady hands.


+ LHP Franklin Kirchner (Conant, 2025) emerged as a left-hander to know moving forward. Listed at a projectable 6-foot, 165-pounds, Kirchner displayed a smooth and controlled delivery throughout his ‘pen to pair with a loose arm and ¾ release. His fastball cruised around 80-81 mph with some carry through the zone and horizontal action. He showed confidence in a 73-74 mph changeup, landing it for strikes with heavy running action (T18.3”). His final offering was a 70-71 mph slider, spinning around 2200 RPM with gradual 2/8 shape.  

+ RHP Cole Harris (Providence Catholic, 2025) had one of the louder showings on Saturday, and he’ll be another arm to monitor for the Celtics this coming spring. He has an athletic, evenly proportioned build at 6-foot, 185-pounds, and still has room to add on muscle in the future. Harris pitches with intent, both in his delivery and with his conviction in his pitches. He cruised with his fastball in the 83-85 mph range, topping out at 85.8 mph with both carry (15.5 avg. IVB) and run through the zone (12.9” avg.). He went to two different breaking balls, with his first being a gradual 11/5 curveball, showing the ability to land it for strikes. He also went to a firmer slider, playing around 73-76 mph with lateral 10/4 shape, flashing sharp bite at times. Lastly, he flipped in a changeup around 75-77 mph, struggling to command it at times but it showed above-average arm-side life. 

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