In the weeks leading
up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview
of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as
well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the
state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as
well as providing mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Illinois State-by-State List
of Early Optimism For Strong 2011 Illinois Draft Class Fizzled in
the course of the last two years, there were strong indications that
the Illinois 2011 high-school draft class would be one to behold. As
recently as last winter, area scouts were optimistic that the talent
they saw last summer and fall would step to the forefront this spring
and produce one of the best crops in the state in years.
through injuries, lack of natural development and other assorted
reasons, that didn’t happen. Few players stepped up, as expected,
and the player that has emerged as the clear-cut top candidate in the
state, New Trier outfielder Charlie Tilson, was barely on the
prospect map a year ago at this time.
hit .449 with 27 stolen bases as a junior at New Trier, and yet was
essentially known to only area scouts at the conclusion of the 2010
season. But the entire scouting world stood up and took notice of
Tilson last summer when he put on an eye-opening performance for the
White Sox entry in the Area Code Games. He stole seven bases in three
games and was the only player over the five-day event to go deep at
spacious Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif.
a pure tools standpoint, Tilson showcased excellent speed (6.54
seconds in the 60) and prototypical center-field skills. He also had
a strong lefthanded swing with mainly gap power, but surprising pop.
His arm action and bat path generally needed some refinement, but
Tilson won over a huge delegation of scouts at the Area Code Games
with his impressive performance, all-out hustle and quick-twitch
athletic actions. He had scouts comparing him to younger versions of
big leaguers Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury.
the 2011 season unfolded, there were strong indications that Tilson
might become the first Illinois high-school position prospect to be
drafted in the first round since Jayson Werth in 1997. Much of that
optimism waned during the course of the spring, though, as area
scouts who have been slower to warm up to Tilson’s overall package
refused to buy into all the national hype. Tilson should still easily
be the first player drafted in the state, but more likely in the
sandwich or second rounds.
Tilson remained relatively anonymous so deep into his high-school
career is somewhat surprising, considering his obvious talent and
solid track record of success throughout his career at New Trier, but
Tilson’s high school, located on the north side of Chicago,
historically plays together as a team in the summer and doesn’t
travel. So Tilson had never been exposed to national-level scouts
before appearing in Long Beach late last summer.
to Tilson’s sudden breakthrough, a number of other prominent
Illinois players were jockeying to become the top prospect in the
state, notably hard-throwing Downers Grove South High righthander
were even early indications this spring that Burdi might challenge
Tilson to become the state’s top draft. He touched 97 mph last
summer, but his maximum-effort delivery has been a constant concern
for scouts, and he pretty much took himself out of the running when
he missed about a month of action this spring due to illness and a
back injury, and never did show the same type of stuff.
other pretenders popped into the picture at various times, but few
had any staying power. Among some of the more-promising Illinois prep
pitchers who hit a speed bump this spring were, in alphabetical
Ceja, rhp, Marquette HS. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Louisville
signee was 90-92 mph in the summer and fall with a plus curve, but
has since had surgery for bone chips in his elbow.
Farrell, rhp, Galesburg HS. He topped out at 93 mph during an
indoor winter showcase, but has been more in the mid-80s, touching 90
rarely, during the spring.
Filomeno, lhp, St. Rita HS. Another Louisville signee, Filomeno
was throwing 90-92 mph before suffering a back injury in a car
Nick Hibbing, rhp, Lakes Community HS. Scouts considered the 6-foot-5,
175-pound Iowa signee a potential Top-10-round pick before he missed a start with a tender ulnar nerve in his forearm.
Holtmann, lhp, Breese Central HS. Prior to sitting out all spring
after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Holtmann
was a classic projection, with an upper-80s fastball and a loose,
Perricone, rhp, Hersey HS. The converted outfielder touches 93
mph, but is so raw with his off-speed stuff that he seems destined to
honor his scholarship to Coastal Carolina.
unfulfilled promise was not so readily evident with the state’s top
position players, with the exception being Marquette High shortstop
Mason Snyder, Ceja’s teammate. He was the state’s top hitting
prospect until undergoing labrum surgery on his right shoulder.
all the various maneuverings this spring, it now appears that there
could be as few as four high-school players selected in the top 10
rounds, with power-hitting Waterloo High outfielder Garrett Schlecht
and Rock Falls High two-way talent Jake Junis in the mix with Tilson
ceiling on the talent in Illinois’ college ranks was much lower to
begin with, and the 2011 season played out pretty much as expected,
though University of Illinois catcher Adam Davis made a late charge
and likely will be the first college player drafted. He was selected
MVP of the Big Ten Conference tournament as Illinois, even with a
25-25 record entering the six-team event, won both the Big Ten
regular-season title and post-season conference tournament crown in
the same season for the first time in school history.
is the latest in an impressive line of catchers produced by Illinois,
and follows in the footsteps of Chris Robinson (3rd-rounder,
2005), Lars Davis (3rd-rounder,
2007) and Aaron Johnson (28th-rounder,
2010). All three of Davis’ predecessors, coincidentally, were from
Canada, while Davis hails from the suburbs of west Chicago.
excels defensively and may have the best arm of any Illinois catcher
that passed before him. He regularly pops times in the
1.85-1.9-second range. With regular work this spring, his receiving
and blocking skills have improved significantly. Scouts still
question Davis’ upside at the plate, but he has a solid approach
and hit .328-6-44 last summer as a Northwoods League all-star, and
stroked the ball at a steady .300-5-33 clip this spring. A good
athlete, Davis runs unusually well for a catcher and stole 15 bases
this spring. By most accounts, he projects as a fifth- to sixth-round
rapidly-improving Illinois State program appeared to field the
strongest college team in the state for most of the spring, and
entered Missouri Valley Conference tournament play with a 35-16
record. But the Redbirds dropped two games to Indiana State and were
quickly eliminated. Senior righthander Corey Maines, who came to
Illinois State as an outfielder, is a quality senior sign and will
likely be the first player selected from the team. He 9-4, 2.87 and
struck out 110 in 93 innings.
lefthander Jerad Grundy and Olney Central righthander Jerad Eickhoff
were expected to challenge each other to become the top
junior-college draft in the state, but Lincoln Trail righthander
Justin Hancock made a late move on the outside to emerge as the top
key to Hancock’s rise in status stems from adding up to 40 pounds
to his 6-foot-4 frame since enrolling at Lincoln Trail. The added
strength enabled him to improve the velocity on his fastball to 90-94
mph, topping at 95. He also has command of two other pitches.
in a Nutshell:
Premium college prospects.
RATING (1-to-5 scale): 2.
COLLEGE TEAM: Illinois.
JUNIOR COLLEGE TEAM: Heartland.
HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Providence Catholic HS, New Lenox.
ON THE RISE: Garrett Schlecht, of/lhp, Waterloo HS,
Belleville. Schlecht has a classic 6-foot-3, 200-pound build and
solid overall right-field tools, plus an upper 80s arm as a
lefthanded pitcher. The tool that has most attracted the attention of
cross-checkers this spring, though, is his power potential.
ON THE DECLINE: Nick Burdi, rhp, Downers Grove South HS,
Downers Grove. Burdi’s pitching mechanics, arm action and
command have never thrilled scouts, but his mid-90s velocity kept
them coming back. That type of stuff raw was rarely there this spring
as Burdi battled illness and a back injury.
CARD: Charles Tilson, of, New Trier HS, Winnetka. The
scouting directors and cross-checkers that saw Tilson dazzle at the
Area Code Games last August have a higher opinion of the fleet
outfielder than most area scouts. Though the national-level scouts
may have their say when time comes to drafting Tilson, it should also
be noted that Tilson’s father is a very prominent Chicago attorney
and scouts say that Tilson’s signature on a contract will likely be
neither easy nor inexpensive.
OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Illinois Connection: Tony Zych, rhp,
University of Louisville (attended high school in Monee).
2012 PROSPECT: Brett Lilek, lhp, Marion Catholic HS.
2013 PROSPECT: Brock Stewart, ss, Illinois State University.
History: Danny Goodwin, c, Central HS, Peoria (1971, White
Sox/1st round, 1st pick).
Draft: Joe Benson, c, Joliet Catholic HS (Twins/2nd round).
Draft: Jake Smolinski, 3b, Boylan Catholic HS, Rockford
Draft: Jake Odorizzi, rhp, Highland HS (Brewers/1st round, 32nd pick).
Draft: Tyler Kehrer, lhp, Eastern Illinois U. (Angels/1st round, 48th pick).
Draft: Mike Foltyniewicz, rhp, Minooka Community HS (Astros/1st round, 19th pick).
Hitter: Charlie Tilson, of, New Trier HS, Winnetka.
Power: Garrett Schlecht, of, Waterloo HS, Belleville.
Speed: Charlie Tilson, of, New Trier HS, Winnetka.
Defender: Charlie Tilson, of, New Trier HS, Winnetka.
Velocity: Nick Burdi, rhp, Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove.
Breaking Stuff: Corey Maines, rhp, Illinois State Univetrsity.
PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO
GROUP ONE (Projected
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
1. CHARLIE TILSON, of,
New Trier HS, Winnetka
++ speed (6.54 in 60)/CF
defense are best tools; strong LH swing, gap power; high marks for
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
2. ADAM DAVIS, c,
University of Illinois (Jr.)
Well-rounded tool set at
6-0/215; quick/agile defender, + arm; line drive/gap power
(.300-5-33, 15 SB).
3. NICK BURDI, rhp,
Downers Grove South HS
6-5/225 power arm, 91-94
FB/T-97, 85 SL; effort in low ¾ slinging release, lacks command,
4. JUSTIN HANCOCK,
rhp, Lincoln Trail JC (So.)
Late bloomer; got much
stronger, bumped FB to 90-94/T-95; also has 12-6 CU, CH inconsistent;
5. GARRETT SCHLECHT,
of, Waterloo HS, Belleville
+ build (6-3,200), LH
bat, powerful swing with lift; RF tools, 7.0 in 60, upper-80s arm;
.521-6-35 in 2011.
6. ZACH BORENSTEIN,
of, Eastern Illinois (Jr.)
Solid speed/throw tools,
has played 3B/RF/CF extensively, best in OF, LH bat, flashes bat
7. JERAD EICKHOFF,
rhp, Olney Central CC (So.)
frame, FB 88-92, more in tank, also + 84-85 cutter; + 2011 season (10
W, 89 IP/116 SO).
8. WILLIE ARGO, of,
University of Illinois (Jr.)
6-1/215; + speed (66 SBs
last 2 years), 2010 wrist injury sapped power (12 HR as FR, 8 since),
9. JERAD GRUNDY, lhp,
Hancock CC (So.)
Ex-Miami LHP went 7-2,
3.38 for nation’s top-ranked JC D-II team; FB up to 94, SL to 82;
10. JAKE JUNIS,
rhp-3b, Rock Falls HS
2-way talent, +
strong/athletic at 6-3/210; loose arm; FB 88-91, sharp 78 CU, nice
CH, powerful RH bat.