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Albright, Cullen, Wilson lead strong class of West baseball signees
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Forsyth County News

West Forsyth baseball - college signees

- Addison Albright, Georgia
- Zach Bitzer, North Georgia
- Chris Cullen, South Carolina
- Derrick Pickvet, North Georgia
- Alec Wilson, Stanford

Alec Wilson dreamed of going to Stanford. Chris Cullen was always biased towards playing in the Southeastern Conference. Addison Albright grew up a Georgia fan.

So when the West Forsyth baseball teammates got the chance to fulfill their respective dreams, the decisions were easy.

On Thursday afternoon, Wilson (Stanford), Cullen (South Carolina), Albright (Georgia) and Zach Bitzer and Derrick Pickvet (North Georgia) signed National Letters of Intent to make their commitments official, ending the recruiting process. The talented group now turns its attention to one last baseball season at West.

“I think we’ll give Lambert a run for their money,” Wilson said.

Wilson, a 6-foot, 185-pound outfielder, stood out at a Stanford camp two summers ago, so much so that he was the only one of 150-plus players in attendance the staff pulled aside to offer. While Wilson was on the plane home from Palo Alto, Stanford coaches called West coach Mike Pruitt and requested to be the first staff he spoke to upon landing—they wanted to sign Wilson that badly.

College baseball moved recently to have its metal bats act more like less-powerful wood bats, reducing the speed of the ball off the bat and, most noticeably, the number of home runs. Stanford started looking for outfielders that can hit the ball in the gaps and chase the ball down in the gaps; Wilson fit that bill.

Stanford’s head coach, Mark Marquess, has coached the Cardinal since 1977 and is the third-winningest active coach in college baseball.

“The coaches are so personable,” Wilson said. “They didn’t put down other schools or coaches. [Coach Marquess] gave me some really good personal advice. He wasn’t pitching his school but just trying to help me grow as an individual.”

Chris Cullen, a 6-foot-5 catcher, visited a number of SEC schools (Georgia, Vanderbilt), but when he stepped foot in Columbia, S.C., he knew that was the place for him.

“Everything clicked,” Cullen said. “I felt like I fit in. When I saw how good their offer was, there was no question where I was going.”

South Carolina, like Stanford, is one of the most consistent programs in America—the Gamecocks have reached the NCAA tournament in fourteen straight seasons and won back-to-back NCAA championships in 2010 and 2011.

Cullen said he has Major League Baseball teams calling his house every week to set up meetings. He’s discussed the draft briefly with his family, but he wants to have the college experience.

“I’m open to the draft, but it just depends what happens in June,” Cullen said. “If I go high enough, it’ll be something we consider.”

Addison Albright grew up a Georgia fan. Former Georgia coach Dave Perno started recruiting the 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher before Albright was even a freshman at West. Perno was fired after the Dawgs ended their 2012 campaign with a 21-32 record; despite coaching uncertainty, Albright didn’t waver long.

Scott Stricklin called Albright a week after he was hired from Kent State, and the two came to a mutual agreement: Albright didn’t have to feel obligated to uphold his verbal commitment, and Stricklin didn’t have to feel obligated to uphold Georgia’s offer. Stricklin watched Albright pitch in person the next weekend, and the southpaw affirmed his commitment shortly thereafter.

“I always knew that I wanted to go play at Georgia,” Albright said. “The coaching switch wasn’t a huge deal to me just because I wanted to go play for the university either way. I really do like coach Stricklin.”

The new Georgia staff liked that Albright is a tall, projectable left-handed pitcher with a strong curveball and command of three pitches. He throws in the mid-80s (upper 80s if he reaches back for it), but Albright’s velocity should go up with more time in the weight room.

Cullen and Albright have post-college aspirations on opposite ends of the spectrum: Cullen would like to stay around baseball as long as possible, whether that’s playing or as an agent or general manager. Albright plans to study medicine with the goal of becoming a plastic surgeon. Wilson is going to Stanford—he’ll be just fine with any degree from the Farm.

The Wolverines have a deep and talented pitching staff returning with Albright, Bitzer and Pickvet, and a sophomore-laden infield. West fell in the first round of the state playoffs to Parkview last season and watched as their county rivals, Lambert, went on and won the whole shootin’ match, but the Wolverines are hoping for a role reversal this time around.