Top Six MLB Draft Prospects on the 2021 Illinois Fighting Illini

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Last night saw Illini baseball even their season record at 16-16 with a 2-0 win over Maryland at Illinois Field. As that score would indicate, it was indeed a pitcher’s duel, with redshirt sophomore Andrew Hoffmann getting the victory.

Hoffmann (7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 SO) struck out a career-high 12 opposing hitters, showcasing just how much he really has the stuff to possibly one day pitch in the show. Hoffman exited to a well-deserved standing ovation, as he had just completed a very dominant performance over a really good Maryland Terrapins team.

With the Major League Baseball Draft, it’s a wild card to say the least. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you lose, like a spin on the roulette wheel. All drafts are gambles so to speak, and the MLB draft is certainly that. Speaking of baseball wagering, you can find out which way BetQL’s model is picking for tonight’s MLB games here. It would appear that picking the Boston Red Sox right now is a smart bet.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top MLB prospects currently a part of the Illini baseball squad.

RHP Andrew Hoffmann

We’ve profiled the “Friday guy” of the team in a previous post here. The Plainfield, IL native and Oakland transfer was ranked the No. 14 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by D1Baseball, No. 20 in the conference by Baseball America and No. 22 in the league by Perfect Game.

3-0 on the year with a 3.27 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 44 innings, Illinois is 7-1 in games that he starts. Hoffman is rated the No. 140 MLB Draft prospect in the nation by D1Baseball.

SS Branden Comia

The cover boy of Illinois baseball’s 2021 record book, the Orland Park native and Carl Sandburg high school graduate majors in business and hopes to become a financial adviser someday, once his playing career is over. He certainly has a bright future on the diamond ahead of him.

He’s ranked the No. 4 shortstop in the nation and the No. 11 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by D1Baseball. He’s rated the “Best Defensive Infielder” and the No. 17 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by Baseball America. Hitting .439/.544/.634 (36-for-82), with 7 2B, 3 HR, 20 RBIs, 24 R over last 23 G, Perfect Game rates him the No. 29 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten.

C Jacob Campbell

Named to the Buster Posey Catcher of the Year Award Watch List, Campbell was selected in the 36th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. He’s rated the No. 13 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by Baseball America and No. 19 in the Big Ten by Perfect Game.

Ranked the No. 8 catcher recruit in the nation by Prep Baseball Report in 2018, Campbell is very versatile, he’s played both LF and RF in his collegiate career.

C Ryan Hampe

Preseason all-Big Ten selection by Perfect Game was ranked the No. 25 MLB Draft prospect in the league by the same outlet. He’s also rated the No. 27 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by D1Baseball.

Hampe has a .292/.478./.333 slash line on the season, good for an OPS of .811.

RHP Aidan Maldonado

A 38th round pick in the 2018 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Maldonado was rated the No. 10 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by Baseball America, He’s No. 17 in the same category by D1Baseball, No. 24 according to Perfect Game. He played summer ball with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League in the summer 2019 where he finished rthird in the league in strikeouts per nine innings (15.6).

He’s struggled through a rough season of limited action in 2021, but he was rated the No. 2 prospect in the state of Minnesota by two different ranking services coming out of high school.

INF Jackson Raper

The team’s leading slugger, he hit for the cycle on 5/2/21 vs.Michigan (4-for-5 with a career-high 7
RBI, 2 R). Raper leads the team in home runs (9), RBIs (36), SLG (.655) and 2B (10). He has a monstrous OPS of 1.099.
He’s currently rated the No. 32 MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten by Perfect Game.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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