Prep Baseball Report

Illinois Underclass Invitational: Top Overall Prospects

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

On Feb. 17, PBR Illinois hosted one of its biggest showcases on its annual calendar: Underclass Invitational. This invite-only showcase brings together the state’s best talent in its 2021 and 2022 class, and all that talent was on display at The MAX last month. Well over 100 of Illinois’ best underclassman made it to McCook on Sunday, almost all of whom were uncommitted.

We’ll conclude our event analysis by ranking the top overall performers at last month’s high-profile showcase. With so much talent at The MAX last month, our staff decided to expand the overall rankings to a top-15 for the 2021 class and a top-10 for the 2022 class.

And now, onto the top overall prospects from this year’s Underclass Invitational.


No. 1 Adam Dowler LHP / 1B / Oswego East, IL / 2021

6-foot-3, 200-pound left-handed pitcher, athletic and strong build, plus frame, high projectability. Presence on the rubber, side steps into a sturdy, leg lift balance, leg kicks out and extends in-line to home, toe strikes closed, athletic finish with pop-up. Arm plays short and clean, speeds up quick after hand break, high ¾ window. Fastball has life through the zone, hard run, sat 84-86 mph, topped 87 mph. Curveball, 1/7 shape, gradual break, 74-75 mph. Feel for a changeup, hard fade deceptive off the fastball, 77-81 mph.

No. 2 Ben Hess RHP / 1B / Charleston, IL / 2021

6-foot-4,195-pound right-handed pitcher, daunting frame, athletic actions, projects. Present feel for the dirt circle. Pitches with tempo, short side step into a sturdy balance, toe lifted, extends in-line to home, high front side, foot strikes square, leg swings over body at finish. Arm plays long on back side, super quick and loose out front, high ¾ slot, rhythm throughout. Repertoire is advanced for classification, all in the zone. Fastball had late run and sink, heavy and firm, sat 86-88 mph. Slider, sharp and tight 10/4 shape, shorter break, 76-78 mph. Changeup, lower slot, arm side run and fade, 74-76 mph.

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