It’s not every day a college baseball team has the son of a former 16-year Major League player and All-Star essentially fall into their laps the summer of the same year they’re able to sign their national letters of intent.
But that’s what happened with 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 home runs, Alan Choo was announced Wednesday as one of Georgia’s 16 signees.
“The ball jumps off his bat,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said Wednesday in an interview with UGASports.com. “He’s using his dad’s major league bat in games. It’s 35 ounces … that’s a club.”
Apparently, Choo knows how to use it.
A 6-foot-1, 230-pound left-handed hitter, Choo batted .429 as a sophomore at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High before transferring last year to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Choo was rated the top first baseman in Texas and Texas Region Underclass All-American by Perfect Game/Rawlings.
Nevertheless, when Stricklin saw Choo while scouting his summer ball team, he was surprised to learn that the burly youngster was still uncommitted.
“Talking to his summer coach, I’m watching him; I saw him play so much this summer, and every time I’m watching him hit doubles in the gap and home runs and hit the ball to all fields,” Stricklin said. “I finally asked his summer coach, am I missing something? Why is he still uncommitted? He’s from Texas, he went to IMG this summer, so we had seen him before the summer and he shrugged his shoulders and said the same thing, ‘I don’t know Coach. I don’t know why he’s available, but you’re seeing what you’re seeing.’ He’s the real deal.”
Following a summer visit to Athens with his mother, Choo was sold on the Bulldogs and Wednesday officially became a member of what Stricklin feels is a class that fills a lot of needs.
“We got a lot of quick commitments out of some of these kids, some of these kids have been committed for three years,” Stricklin said. “They were at the top of their class when they were young, and they still are. It was pitching heavy early on, and then we felt like we needed to add some offense, and that’s where Trey King (McIntosh High), Trey Phelps (Georgia Perimeter Academy), and Alan Choo come in.”
Of the 16 signees, Choo and Indiana shortstop Brett Denby are the only newcomers not from Georgia.
The Bulldogs’ class also includes North Oconee catcher Cale Stricklin, Scott Stricklin’s son.
“I think I’m ready,” Scott Stricklin said, when asked if he was prepared to coach his son.
“Three years ago, I realized Ok, he might be good enough. But I put it on Coach (associate head coach Scott) Daley 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 backed off of him. I told Coach Kenny; you tell me because my eyes can be blurry as a dad. They both came back and said this is the guy that we want.”
The elder Stricklin joked it was actually Kenny who convinced young Cale to commit to the Bulldogs.
“Coach Kenny is the guy who got him to commit, not me. I couldn’t finish the deal,” Stricklin said. “Coach Kenny got him to commit.”
Considered a top defensive catcher, Cale Stricklin is coming on as a hitter after batting .395 with four home runs and 36 RBI for the state champions, who set a state record for victories (39), including wins in the Titans’ final 36 games .
“He’s a good player, he’s the right kid, I know he’ll handle it right, I hope I do,” Scott Stricklin said. “I think that anytime a dad who coaches his son, are you going to be too hard on him, are you going to be too soft on him; you’ve just got to trust your instincts and try to communicate. That’s where I’ll lean on my upperclassmen a little bit. The guys who have been around, they’ll be allowed to come in and tell me, hey coach, you’re too hard on him, or hey, you need to kick him in the butt.
“That’s important that you have communication with your other players just to make sure that you’re coaching your team because as parents, you always get blinded sometimes. That’s my responsibility. He’s a good player, he deserves the opportunity to play here, and that made it an easy decision.”
Ryker Chavis (LHP, Warner Robins, Ga., 6-2, 185, RL, Houston Co. HS): An Honor Roll student, he posted a 6-0 mark and 1.90 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 59.2 innings for the Bears as a junior …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 Star Baseball and named MVP of the WWBA after going 5- 0 with a 0.00 ERA, tallying 68 strikeouts in 57 innings.
Connor Crisp (RHP, Locust Grove, Ga., 5-11, 170, LR, Locust Grove HS): Two-way standout for the Wildcats and coach Chad Crawford, posting 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 team went 22-8 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs….Went 5-3 with a 1.88 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 45 innings plus hit .405-3-24 with 25 stolen bases as a sophomore. … Younger brother of current Bulldog Nolan Crisp.
Alan Choo (1B, Southlake, Texas, 6-1, 230, LR, IMG Academy): A corner infielder who spent his first two years at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High School and now attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla…Batted .429-2-19 in helping the Dragons and coach Larry Vucan go 25-3 as a sophomore in 2021…Hit .372 with eight RBI as a junior for coach David Turgeon and the Ascenders…Rated the top first baseman in Texas and a Texas Region Underclass All-American by Perfect Game/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 the state of Indiana by Perfect Game including the top shortstop.
Paul Farley (RHP, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-1, 175, RR, Mount Paran Christian School): Tallied a 7-2 mark and 1.85 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 60.2 innings as a junior for the Eagles and coach Kyle Reese…Part of state championship squad as a sophomore when he went 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 25.2 innings.
Ryan Gold (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…Earned All-Region honors as a pitcher plus batted .379-1-22 with four stolen bases…Tallied a 7-4 mark, 2.26 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 40 innings as a sophomore.
James Hayes (RHP, Hawkinsville, Ga., 6-2, 225, LR, The Westfield School): A three-sport letterman who has been limited on the mound the past two seasons due to elbow and knee injuries but has seen action as a corner infielder …Batted .436-4-25 plus a .587 OBP in 22 games as a junior for the Hornets…Participated in 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): Tallied a 6-3 mark and 1.17 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 53 innings as a junior for the Wolfpack and coach Matt Richardson…Posted a 7 -3 mark and 1.10 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 69 innings as a sophomore in helping the squad to a 30-10 mark.
Trey King (INF, Peachtree City, Ga., 6-1, 178, LR, McIntosh HS): A two-sport letterman who batted .364-1-19 with a team-best 14 stolen bases as a junior for the Chiefs and coach Tom Kelley…Named Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in helping team to a 17-15 mark…Hit .389-1-22 with six stolen bases as a sophomore in earning Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Wyatt Land (RHP, Bishop, Ga., 6-3, 185, LR, North Oconee HS): Limited action due to injury for the state champion Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they went 39-1 in 2022…Tallied 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 posted an 8-2 mark and 0.53 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 55.2 innings as a junior for the Titans and coach Jamie Wagner…Tallied a 7-1 record, 2.40 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings as a sophomore.
Cooper Milford (OF, Cumming, Ga., 6-0, 170, RR, Blessed Trinity Catholic HS): An outfielder for the Titans and coach Jamie Wagner…Batted .340 with 14 RBI and a team-high 18 stolen bases as a junior.
Three Phelps (INF, Kennesaw, Ga., 6-2, 210, RR, Georgia Premier Academy): An Honor Roll student who attends Georgia Premier Academy in Statesboro where he plays for Gene Reynolds…Batted .385-2-40 with 20 stolen bases in 45 games as a junior in helping the Sox to a 34-11 record…Named a 2022 Conference All-Star…Hit .425-5-22 with 15 stolen bases in earning All-Region honors as a sophomore…Participated in the 2022 Perfect Game All-American Classic at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks…Aunt is former Georgia standout and WNBA first round draft pick Angel Robinson.
The industry 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, however batted .335-1 -37 with 21 stolen bases in helping the squad go 20-12…Hit .321-0-31 with 18 stolen bases as team posted a 19-13 mark in 2021…An Honorable Mention All-region selection.
Cale Stricklin (C, Watkinsville, Ga., 5-11, 190, RR, North Oconee HS): Batted .398 with four home runs and 36 RBI for the state champion Titans and coach Jay Lasley as they posted a 39-1 mark…Part of team that advanced to the final four of the state playoffs as a sophomore, going 31-6 while batting .299 with 25 RBI.
Ethan Sutton (RHP, Acworth, Ga., 6-3, 208, RR, Allatoona HS): A two-way standout who posted an 8-1 mark, 2.41 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 61 innings as a junior plus batted .358-5 -37 with 11 stolen bases…Helped the Buccaneers and coach Keith Hansen go 35-6 and finish as the state finalists in 2022…Went 2-1 with four saves and a 1.85 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22.2 innings as a sophomore plus hit. 337-1-22.