The top 10 high school baseball players in the Peoria area for 2022

Adam Duvall
Journal Star
Washington's Easton Harris throws to first base on a double play against Dunlap on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at Dunlap High School.

Baseball teams took to the practice fields across the state last Monday.

Games can start on March 14 with the Illinois High School Association postseason play beginning on May 16. Dozer Park is the state finals home, hosting the small schools on June 3-4. The season ends on June 10-11 with the large schools playing DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet.

The Journal Star takes a look at the Peoria-area baseball players to watch for in the 2022 season, in alphabetical order:

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Drew Bryant, Brimfield/Elmwood

The all-Prairieland Conference first-team pick split his time between pitching and outfield last season. The now senior hit .400 with seven doubles, 20 RBIs, 21 runs and 18 stolen bases. He went 7-1 with a save and 66 strikeouts with a 0.65 ERA in 43 innings.

Nate Cooley, Illinois Valley Central

As an all-Illini Prairie Conference second-team selection, the senior catcher hit .329 with three doubles, two triples and five homers. He had 25 RBIs with 15 runs and three stolen bases for the Grey Ghosts, who were a Class 2A regional finalist.

The East team's Easton Harris of Washington pitches during the large schools game of the 30th annual McDonald’s All-Star series Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at Dozer Park in Peoria.

Easton Harris, Washington

The reigning Journal Star player of the year hit .347 with 20 RBIs, 31 runs and 17 stolen bases. Harris, a senior pitcher/second baseman, was 7-0 with 83 strikeouts and a 1.27 ERA in 55 innings. He an Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A all-stater.

Landen Hidden, East Peoria

The sophomore pitcher was 6-0 with 60 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA in 46.2 innings last season. As an all-Mid-Illini Conference first-team honoree, Hidden helped EP win a 3A sectional semifinal and a Mid-Illini runner-up.

The North’s Drew Bryant, left, of Brimfield, congratulates teammate Frank Kelch, also of Brimfield, after he hit a home run during the small schools game of the 30th annual McDonald’s All-Star series Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at Dozer Park in Peoria.

Frank Kelch, Brimfield/Elmwood

Last season, the unanimous all-Prairieland Conference first-teamer hit .434 with six doubles and five homers with 36 RBI, 28 runs and 11 stolen bases. The senior first baseman was helped the Indians to a 20-win season..

Gus Lucas, Washington

The Bradley University recruit played came off injury last season, playing in nine games where he hit .360 with a home run and five RBIs with three runs. Lucas, a senior left-handed pitcher, pitched four innings with six strikeouts and picked up a win. 

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Matt Montoya, Eureka

The Hornets, who won 25 games and were a Class 2A sectional finalist, saw the senior designated hitter/outfielder hit .470 with six doubles, one triple, one homer. He drove in 14 RBIs, 23 runs and stole 11 bases.

Andrew Pyszka, Putnam County

Last season, the junior shortstop hit .444 with seven doubles, three triples, 15 RBIs, 32 runs and 26 stolen bases. He earned IHSBCA Class 1A all-state and was a unanimous all-Tri-County Conference first-team selection.

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Julius Sanchez, LaSalle-Peru

The junior pitcher went 3-2 with 85 strikeouts and a 0.33 ERA in 42 innings for the Cavaliers. Sanchez was an IHSBCA Class 3A all-state and an all-Interstate Eight Conference selection.

Slater Wilcox, Eureka

On the mound, the junior was 6-0 with 54 strikeouts and an 0.88 ERA in 39.2 innings. Wilcox also played outfield, hitting .456 with four doubles, 33 RBIs, 19 runs and eight stolen bases.

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports writer. Email him at aduvall@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.