Banners on the Parkway continues its player profile interviews with the 2019 Xavier Musketeer baseball team. Next up, sophomore outfielder from Indianapolis Indiana, Allbry Major.
Major, the talented switch-hitting outfielder and pitcher arrived at Xavier University after attending North Central High School in Indianapolis. In high school, Major earned Academic All-Conference honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. During Major’s senior year, he hit .450 and slugged .687 in 99 plate appearances. He also pitched 47.2 innings and sported a very impressive 1.91 ERA.
At 6’5” and 200 lbs. Major was already making a name for himself as a teenager. In 2016, Perfect Game USA, a national amateur scouting service said, “The primary outfielder has a long and athletic frame with plenty of room to project strength as he matures. In the outfield workouts he showcased his strong arm with a top velocity of 91 mph. At the plate, the switch-hitter swings with intent, hitting the ball to all fields and projects gap to gap power.”
In 2017, the speedy outfielder recorded a 6.75 60-yard dash which put him in the top 12% of his class, nationally. Major was named to the Top Prospect List by Perfect Game and regarded as a potential top 10 round MLB pick and/or highest level college prospect.
Upon graduation, Indiana’s third-ranked outfielder headed 112 miles southeast on Interstate 74 to Cincinnati, home to Xavier University and the start of his collegiate career.
The 18 year old freshman wasted no time making an impact on the 2018 Musketeer baseball team. Major contributed to Coach O’Conner’s squad both as a position player and pitcher hitting .291, with an on base percentage of .356 and slugging .386. In 44 games, he collected 9 doubles, 2 home runs and 21 RBI’s. He also played flawless defense in the outfield, recording 94 putouts to go along with 8 assists and no errors.
On the mound, Major was just as effective. He logged 61.2 innings pitched, appearing in 16 games, including 8 starts. Major’s ERA was 4.96 and his 3 wins were tied for second on the team. He also recorded 54 strikeouts over the course of the season, equating to an average of 7.88 strikeouts per nine innings.
Major’s achievements last year earned him well deserved conference and national recognition. He won Big East Freshman of the Year, Second Team All-Big East, and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. If that isn’t impressive enough, D1 Baseball.com chose Major as one of its preseason college baseball top prospects for 2019.
Major’s sophomore year at Xavier is off to a terrific start. As of 3/24, Major is the 3rd leading hitter on the team batting .317, slugging .635 and has a team leading 1.046 OPS.
We recently caught up with Major to get his views on the recruiting process that landed him at Xavier, how he became a switch-hitter, and insight into his musical taste among other things.
Banners on the Parkway: Allbry, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. What other sports did you like to play growing up and how did you ultimately choose baseball?
Allbry Major: Baseball was the first sport that I ever played and then I tried football in middle school because that’s what everyone else was doing. I ended up breaking my wrist during the first game, so my dad pulled me out right after that. I wanted to be a wide receiver, but they made me the quarterback. I played basketball my senior year at high school, which was a really fun experience. I had a lot of fun with that, I miss it. The reason I was on the team was to get rebounds and try to dunk on somebody. Whenever I got in, the student section would go nuts.
Banners on the Parkway: What was the recruiting process like for you?
Major: I started the recruitment process pretty early. My Dad was on top of things. He had an Excel spreadsheet that he set up and had me fill out. I had to find the head coaches, recruiting coordinators, e-mails, and phone numbers. This was freshman year and I would send out general recruitment information to schools that I was interested in and gather more information. On breaks, we would take road trips and travel to different schools. Freshman year, we came to Ohio and visited the University of Cincinnati, Xavier, and Miami University. By my sophomore year, I knew I didn’t want a big school, so that crossed off a lot of the schools on my list. My decision wasn’t super hard. It came down to either Grand Canyon University or Xavier. I was blown away by Grand Canyon, the campus was so beautiful and it’s in Arizona which is hard to beat. I also wanted to go to a place where I could start and have a direct impact right away. The academics ultimately outweighed the decision and that’s how I came to Xavier.
Banners on the Parkway: You had a terrific freshman year at Xavier. What were some of the biggest adjustments that you had to make going from high school and travel ball to D1 baseball?
Major: Being a two-way player in college is a lot different than in high school. In high school, my time was split between outfield, pitching and hitting. I was kind of all over the place at first. In travel ball my pitching role was not super important. If we got into a jam, I would come in for just a few batters and then come out. Coming to Xavier as a starter and also starting a position wasn’t something I was used to.
Banners on the Parkway: How did you become a switch-hitter? Originally you were a right handed hitter, but your stroke looks natural from both sides.
Major: I’m not sure exactly how it got started, but I think it was with my hitting coach. He had me swing both ways just to try it out and I guess I wasn’t terrible. He felt it was something he could work with and after that I started practicing more with my left hand. When we would practice, I was probably 80% left handed, ever since I was 8 years old. I didn’t start switch-hitting in games until my sophomore year of high school and then it depended on the pitcher.
Banners on the Parkway: Do you ever feel like you are hitting so well from one side that you would rather stick to that side of the plate, regardless of the pitcher?
Major: I would do that sometimes when I was mainly hitting right-handed (and the pitcher was also right-handed), but I would never do that left on left. Now if I try and do the same hand, I can’t do it. I’m so used to having breaking balls break into me now. So if I turn around and have breaking balls start at me and break across the zone, I would flinch really hard.
Banners on the Parkway: Allbry, tell me about your defense I know you take a lot of pride in that aspect of your game. I have seen you steal at least 2 home runs away from hitters going up over the fence already this year.
Major: Probably the hardest adjustment for me because I have played center field my whole life and now I play a corner outfield position is adjusting to the ball and the way it comes off the bat at you at a different angle. I’m still trying to get adjusted to that. The biggest thing we work on is those low line drives that you really can’t tell if it’s in, at you, or if you have to head back.
Banners on the Parkway: What are your personal goals and team goals for 2019?
Major: I want to improve overall from last year. Batting average wise, I want to crack .330. I want to steal at least 10 bases, hit 10 home runs, and have at least 30 RBI’s. My team goals, would be winning. You see what happens when we compete from both sides, offensively and defensively, we can beat top 10 teams. (Xavier upset number 8 Louisville, 5-4 this year on 2/26) Another goal is to be Big East Champions, both in regular season and in the tournament. I want to make it past the NCAA regionals as well. I think that is definitely something that we can do as a team this year.
Banners on the Parkway: How has the baseball and academic experience at Xavier been for you so far?
Major: I like the environment that the coaches have created. It’s not too uptight, there's still room to have fun. Overall, I have had a positive experience at Xavier. I have a lot more friends here than back home, that’s for sure. Academically it’s been a pretty good experience for me too, it’s definitely not high school. There is a lot of academic support here. There are tutors and I spend a lot of time with our academic adviser (Angela Wyss) also.
Banners on the Parkway: I love the sayings I hear from your Dad during the games. “No Fly Zone,” “Players Play” and “Nibble, Nibble, Nibble” are some of my favorites. Does that cheering inspire you and your teammates?
Major: I definitely hear it. There’s no way that I can’t notice. Last year, at Florida State, we were playing in front of something like 7000 people and somehow I could still hear his voice. I think it definitely gets the team pumped. My teammates call him the “K-Train” and they love when he is around, even if they don’t understand him. It inspires them.
Banners on the Parkway: What do you look for in a walk-up song?
Major: I try not to use the same song unless it’s catchy. It definitely has to have a sort of rhythm to it. The only type of music that I listen to voluntarily is the hip hop genre. The theme behind it typically is talking about the grind. Last year it was “Hell and Back” by Kid Ink.
Banners on the Parkway: So, you’re not going to be sporting any T Swift then?
Major: No, I don’t think so.
Banners on the Parkway: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Major: Jose Bautista, I liked his swing and how he played.
Banners on the Parkway: Who has had the biggest influence on you in your baseball career?
Major: My Dad. He got me connected with a lot of instructors that helped me become the player I am today. He is very motivational, driving and doesn't let me give up.
Banners on the Parkway: How about your Mom? I know she is very supportive. What has been her impact on you as an athlete and a person?
Major: Yeah, she still treats me like a Mama’s boy, now more than ever. I know she believes in me.
Banners on the Parkway: Nice, tell us something about yourself that people might not know.
Major: My Dad joined a fraternity when he was in college back in the late 80’s. I actually just joined the same one, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Banners on the Parkway: What are your plans after Xavier?
Major: I’m going to try and take baseball as far as it will let me go and after that, I’m not sure. We’ll have to see.
Banners on the Parkway: I know that your father, Ken, is from the Bahamas and the country puts on a pretty awesome home run contest every year. It’s named the “Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise,” which Bo Bichette has won two years in a row. Have you ever thought about attending one year?
Major: Yes, I’m always trying to go back. I think we are actually going to take a trip there next winter. I haven't been back since baseball took off, I think I was eight or nine. I was planning on playing for their national team in the Pan American games last summer. They didn’t end up qualifying so it fell through, but I was really looking forward to that experience.
Banners on the Parkway: Last one Allbry, tell me about the saying, “SO$ABABY” on your glove.
Major: I kind of like flashy things and I wanted the glove to stand out. So that’s part of what goes into the colors. I have the Oklahoma flag on there for my best friend who plays basketball here at Xavier. She’s from Oklahoma and it happened to match the lace colors. “SO$ABABY” is from an artist, Chief Keef, who he also goes by Sosa. He plays a very influential role in the rap music that we have today and doesn't get as much credit as he deserves so I wanted to put that out there.
Banners on the Parkway: Thanks for your time Allbry and best of luck for the rest of the season. We look forward to seeing you back on the field soon.