A `throwback,' Strick is keeper for Mt. St. Joe

Baseball: An excellent fielder, All-Metro shortstop Allen Strick is off to a torrid start with the bat, hitting .559 with six homers and 19 RBIs for the Gaels.

April 09, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

His summer coach of the last 10 years says he's "a throwback, old school" type of player and that's only one of the reasons why Mount St. Joseph's All-Metro shortstop Allen Strick is arguably the area's best infielder.

Strick, who will take 200 ground balls a day if someone hits them to him, plays the game the way it was meant to be played. He also has a strong arm, good hands, quick bat with power and is a good runner.

"Allen reminds me of a lot of the guys I played with, guys who play hard and take infielders out on double plays, are intense and mad when something goes wrong, anxious for the next chance to make it up," said Dean Albany, Baltimore Orioles' part-time scout who has coached Strick on the Maryland Orioles summer team since the latter was 8.

"He's a very smart player because he studies the game."

Calvert Hall's veteran coach Joe Binder calls Strick a "big-time hitter and player," and Arundel coach Bernie Walter, who has watched Strick in the summer and in the 16 & Under Junior Olympics in Tucson, Ariz., with the Orioles says he "is a pro prospect."

Strick's tools and intensity have drawn the attention of pro baseball scouts and earned him a scholarship to Division I Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va.

"I learned at an early age to play hard all the time and that the harder you work at it, the better you will get," said Strick, the leader of St. Joe's No. 3 ranked baseball team who says Albany is like a brother to him and Gaels' coach Dave Norton like a father.

"Playing for Dean in so many CABA [Continental Amateur Baseball Association] World Series over the years has given me a lot of exposure in front of pro and college scouts."

After his freshman year in which he did not commit an error in 38 chances after being called up from JV, Strick won the Gold Glove on the Maryland Orioles, who won the CABA 15 & Under national title in Crystal Lake, Ill., that summer.

The following summer Strick, who moved to Glen Burnie at age 6 with his mother (Loretta) from Johnstown, Pa., led the Orioles to the Super-Seven 16 & Under national championship at Georgia Tech and was named MVP. He had started to come on with the bat his sophomore year, hitting .343 with 20 RBIs for the Gaels.

Playing next to former All-Metro third baseman and Sun Player of the Year (1998) Mark Teixeira, now an All-American candidate at Georgia Tech, had a positive influence on Strick.

"When I first came up as a freshman, the seniors kind of ragged on me, but Tex took me under his wing," said Strick. "Tex showed me how to carry myself."

After an All-Metro junior season in which he hit .417 (35-for-84) with six homers, 13 doubles, 31 RBIs and 27 runs scored, Strick is off to a terrific start in his fourth varsity season.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Strick, who bats right, is hitting .559 (19-for-34) with six homers and 19 RBIs as only the second four-year starter -- the other former catcher Matt Martin -- under Norton.

"I always knew Allen was a quality player, excellent hitter," said Norton, who became the Mount's head baseball coach in 1983.

"Allen has progressed each year he has played. Last year going into the playoffs, he was struggling, and we had a little talk. I told him he was a super shortstop and to just go out there and play."

And play he did, leading the Gaels to their second straight MIAA A Conference final. Strick lit it up with his bat and smooth fielding (.900 percentage), which he likens to his favorite player, the Orioles' Mike Bordick.

"I just like everything Bordick does, the way he plays and his consistency making the routine plays," says the 18-year old Strick.

Strick is expected to step in and start as a freshman at Old Dominion because the Monarchs' blue-chip junior shortstop, Tim Hummel is a likely first-round draft choice in June.

It appears Strick is a similar type player to the 6-2 and 185-pound Hummel, who is ranked No. 20 in Baseball America's top 100 college prospects.

Strick may be drafted in June, just as Hummel, who is from Montgomery, N.Y., was his senior year of high school -- in the fifth round by the San Diego Padres. Hummel opted to play in college and considerably raised his value.

"I know its Allen's dream to play pro baseball, but I don't want him to throw away college where he could be very successful," said Norton, who says he has a "great relationship" with Strick.

Strick says he has "learned the importance of discipline and being a good person, not big headed under coach Norton."

Strick was first exposed to baseball by his grandfather, Bill Click, who helped raise him with his wife Mary Ann and Strick's mother. Each August, Click took his grandson to one of the country's top amateur baseball events, the All-American Amateur Baseball Association 19 & Under tournament in Johnstown.

"I used to play catch with my granddad at the Point Stadium [fashioned after Fenway Park] in Johnstown and getting to play there the last couple summers was like a dream," said Strick.

"I've been lucky and now I want to finish with an A Conference championship for St. Joe and Mr. Norton."

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