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Mallards sign Virginia freshman catcher John Hicks

Madison, WI – February 25, 2009. The Mallards are excited to announce the team has signed Virginia freshman catcher John Hicks for the 2009 season. Hicks was named to the preseason 2008 Rawlings-Perfect Game Team and the Atlantic Region All-High School Senior Team but ended up playing in only three games that year due to an ACL injury suffered during the football season. As a junior he hit .527 with six home runs and 33 RBIs while rushing for 985 yards on 85 carries (11.27 yards/carry) in the fall. Last June he was selected in the 31st round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.

Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke likes Hicks’ ability to call games behind the plate and understanding of how to get the most out of that day’s starting pitcher.

Said Thieleke, “Virginia coaches Brian O’Connor and Kevin McMullan keep telling me that John is one of the smartest catching prospects they’ve ever had and has that special sense of when and where to locate certain pitches to a particular batter.”

“The better teams in the Northwoods League understand that a catcher is really an extension of the coaching staff, and are always well-prepared in understanding how to attack the better hitters in the league. We feel very strongly that John, along with the other catchers we signed, will be an important piece in making our pitching staff the best group they can possibly be.”

The 6’2” youngster was also a two-time All-Region honoree (2005-06), a three-time All-District player (2004-06), and made the All-Metro and All-State team in 2006 while playing at Goochland High School in Virginia.

A common theme thus far for all of the Mallards 2009 signed players is versatility, and Thieleke likes Hicks’ ability to play multiple positions as well.

“Every coaching staff makes hard decisions on who to start and who to play in certain situations, but the fact that we have so many players who can have a major impact at more than one position certainly makes my job in the summer a little bit easier.”