It’s not every day that a college baseball team gets the son of a 16-year-old former major league player and All-Star in the summer of that year to sign their national letters of intent.
But that’s exactly what happened to the Texas native Alan Choo.
The son of former big league outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, a career .275 hitter in the big leagues with 218 homers, Alan Choo was announced Wednesday as one of Georgia’s 16 signers.
“The ball bounces off his racquet,” Georgia’s coach said Scott Stricklin said in an interview with UGASports.com on Wednesday. “He uses his father’s major league racquet in games. It’s 35 ounces… that’s a club.”
Apparently Choo knows how to use it.
Choo, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound left-hander, hit .429 as a sophomore at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. last year.
Choo was All-American rated as the top first baseman in Texas and the Texas Region Underclass Perfect Wild/Rawlings.
Still, when Stricklin saw Choo scouting out his summer ball team, he was surprised to learn the burly boy was still unattached.
“When I talk to his summer coach, I watch him; I’ve seen him play so many times this summer and every time I watch he’s hitting doubles in the gap and home runs and hitting the ball all the fields,” Stricklin said. “I ended up asking his summer coach if I’m missing anything? Why is he still non-binding? He’s from Texas, he went to IMG this summer, so we’d seen him before the summer and he shrugged and said the same thing, “I don’t know Coach. I don’t know why he’s available, but you see what you see. He’s the real deal.”
After a summer visit to Athens with his mother, Choo was traded to the Bulldogs and on Wednesday he officially became a member of what Stricklin believes is a class that fills many needs.
“We’ve had a lot of quick commitments from some of these kids, some of these kids have been committed for three years,” Stricklin said. “They were top of their class when they were young and still are. It was very difficult early on and then we felt like we needed to add some attack and that was it Trey King (McIntosh High), Trey Phelps (Georgia Perimeter Academy) and Alan Choo come in.”
Of the 16 signers, Choo and Indiana are shortstop Brett Denby are the only newcomers who are not from Georgia.
Also in the Bulldog class is North Oconee catcher Cale Stricklin, son of Scott Stricklin.
“I think I’m ready,” Scott Stricklin said when asked if he was ready to coach his son.
“Three years ago I realized that he might be good enough. But I put it on Coach (assistant head coach). Scott) Daeley and coach (pitching coach sean) kenny. I tried to stay out of it.
“We obviously knew we needed a catcher in this class; we try to get a catcher in every class. But I withdrew from him. I told Coach Kenny; you’re telling me because my eyes can be blurry as a father came back and said that’s the guy we want.”
The elder Stricklin joked that it was actually Kenny who convinced young Cale to join the Bulldogs.
“Coach Kenny is the guy who made him sign up, not me. I couldn’t close the deal,” Stricklin said. “Coach Kenny pushed him to commit.”
Cale Stricklin, considered a top defensive catcher, comes on as hitter after hitting .395 with four homers and 36 RBI for the state champion, who has a state record for wins (39), including wins in the Titans’ last 36 games .
“He’s a good player, he’s the right kid, I know he’s going to do it right, I hope I do,” Scott Stricklin said. “I think whenever a father is training his son, you’re going to be too hard on him, you’re going to be too soft on him; You just have to trust your instincts and try to communicate. I’ll lean a little on my upper class. The guys who were around are allowed to come in and tell me, hey Coach, you’re being too hard on him, or hey, you need to kick his butt.
“It’s important that you communicate with your other players just to make sure you’re coaching your team because sometimes as a parent you always get blinded. This is my responsibility. He’s a good player, he deserves the opportunity to play here and that made the decision easy for us.”
Ryker Chavis (LHP, Warner Robins, Ga., 6-2, 185, RL, Houston Co. HS): As an honor roll student, he posted a 6-0 mark and a 1.90 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 59.2 as a junior innings for the Bears…Tallahassee, Fla., and went 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 52 innings as a sophomore while batting .382-4-26…Summer league action with 5 stars Baseball and named WWBA MVP after going 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA, which is 68 strikeouts in 57 innings.
Connor Crisp (RHP, Locust Grove, Ga., 5-11, 170, LR, Locust Grove HS): Two-way standouts for the Wildcats and coach Chad Crawford, with a 7-3 mark, 2.22 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 50 innings as a junior…also hit .377-3-19 with 23 stolen bases in 30 games…earned All-Region, All-County, and All-State honors as the team went 22-8 and into the second round of the playoffs advanced… Went 5-3 with a 1.88 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 45 innings plus hit .405-3-24 with 25 stolen bases in his sophomore year. … younger brother of the current Bulldog Nolan Crisp.
Alan Choo (1B, Southlake, Texas, 6-1, 230, LR, IMG Academy): A corner infielder who spent his freshman year at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School and is now attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida…Batted .429-2-19 while helping the Dragons and coach Larry Vucan win a Texas Region Underclass All-American 25-3 as a sophomore in 2021 Perfect Wild/Rawlings. … Father Shin-Soo Choo played 16 years in the major leagues, including a 2018 All-Star with the Texas Rangers.
Brett Denby (SS, New Albany, Ind., 6-0, 175, RR, Jeffersonville HS): Batted .351-2-17 with 13 stolen bases for the Red Devils as a junior while playing for coaches Derek Ellis and Shane Stock …. Also posted a 3-1 mark and 1.80 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 19 innings in 2022… Ranked among the top five players in Indiana State, according to reports Perfect game including the top shortstop.
Paul Farley (RHP, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-1, 175, RR, Mount Paran Christian School): As a junior for the Eagles and coach Kyle Reese, posted a 7-2 mark and 1.85 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 60.2 innings…part of State Championship Squad sophomore when he won 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.
RyanGold (LHP, Smyrna, Ga., 6-3, 195, RL, Campbell HS): Registered a 7-3 record, 2.01 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 38.1 innings as a junior for the Spartans and coach Jackson Cargle… All-region earning honors as a pitcher plus batting .379-1-22 with four stolen bases… Achieved a 7-4 mark, 2.26 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 40 innings as a sophomore.
James Hays (RHP, Hawkinsville, Georgia, 6-2, 225, LR, The Westfield School): A three-sport letterman who has been limited on the mound for the last two seasons due to elbow and knee injuries but used as a corner infielder was …batting .436-4-25 plus .587 OBP in 22 games as a junior for the Hornets …attended the 2022 MLB-USA Baseball High School All-American Game at Dodger Stadium.
Jake Hembree (LHP, Hiram, Ga., 6-1, 196, LL, North Paulding HS): As a junior for the Wolfpack and coach Matt Richardson, posted a 6-3 mark and 1.17 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 53 innings.. Posted a 7-3 mark and 1.10 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 69 innings as a sophomore to help the roster to a 30-10 mark.
Trey King (INF, Peachtree City, Georgia, 6-1, 178, LR, McIntosh HS): A two-sport letterman who played as a junior for the Chiefs and the team’s top 14 stolen-base coach against .364-1- 19 struggled Tom Kelley…was named Defensive Player of the Year as a junior when he helped the team to a 17-15 mark…hit .389-1-22 with six stolen bases as runner-up to earn Offensive Player of the Year honors .
Wyatt country (RHP, Bishop, Ga., 6-3, 185, LR, North Oconee HS): Limited action due to injury for state champion Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they went 39-1 in 2022… Scored four strikeouts in six innings with a 2.22 ERA as a junior in 2022.
Jake Lankie (RHP, Milton, Ga., 6-2, 190, LR, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS): An Honor Roll student who served as a junior for the Titans and coached an 8-2 mark and .53 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 55.2 innings Jamie Wagner scored… set a sophomore 7-1 record with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings, 2.40 ERA.
Cooper Milford (OF, Cumming, Ga., 6-0, 170, RR, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS): An outfielder for the Titans and coach Jamie Wagner … batted .340 as a junior with 14 RBI and a team-high 18 stolen bases.
Tre Phelps (INF, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-2, 210, RR, Georgia Premier Academy): An honor roll student attending Georgia Premier Academy in Statesboro, where he plays for Gene Reynolds…battered .385-2-40 20 stolen bases in 45 games as a junior to help the Sox to a 34-11 record…2022 Conference All-Star named…Hit .425-5-22 with 15 stolen bases when he was a sophomore All-Region Honors Received… Attending the 2022 Perfect game All-American Classic at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks… Auntie is former Georgia star and WNBA first-round draft pick Angel Robinson.
Bransen Powell (RHP, Locust Grove, Ga., 6-1, 180, RR, Locust Grove HS): A pitcher/infielder for the Wildcats and coach Chad Crawford…did not pitch as a junior due to injury, but batted .335-1-37 with 21 stolen bases to help the squad go 20-12… Hit .321-0-31 with 18 stolen bases as the team hit a 19-13 mark in 2021… An honorable mention for the selection all regions.
Kale Stricklin (C, Watkinsville, Ga., 5-11, 190, RR, North Oconee HS): Batted .398 with four homers and 36 RBI for the state champions Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they hit a 39-1 mark… Part of the team that advanced to the last four of the state playoffs as a sophomore, going 31-6 while battling .299 with 25 RBI.
Ethan Sutton (RHP, Acworth, Georgia, 6-3, 208, RR, Allatoona HS): A standout two-way player who had an 8-1 mark, 2.41 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 61 innings as a junior and .358 -5 hit -37 with 11 stolen bases…helped the Buccaneers and coach Keith Hansen win 35-6 and finish as a state finalist in 2022…went 2-1 with four saves and a 1.85 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22 .2 innings as a second plus hit. 337-1-22.