For Alibay Barkley of George Washington High School in New York, his dreams have come true – twice.
Growing up in the Bronx, Barkley’s dream was to someday play for George Washington High School. The Trojans have a rich baseball tradition and can list Hall of Famer Rod Carew and Major League All-Star Manny Ramirez as graduates.
“George Washington has all of the best players in New York. When I played that first game my freshman year, it was a dream come true,” the 6-foot-5 Barkley said.
Barkley helped the Trojans reach the state championship game as a freshman and he had a huge season as a sophomore, but he lived part of his junior year in Texas and was ineligible to play baseball when he returned to New York later that year.
Now a senior, Barkley is back living the dream.
Through the first three months of the season, the Trojans are 31-3 on the season with Barkley establishing his presence at the plate. He’s hitting .461 with seven home runs and 37 RBI despite rarely seeing a good pitch to hit.
“He has already hit four balls over 450 feet,” longtime Trojan coach Steve Mandl said. “He hits moon shots but uses the whole field and is an intelligent hitter. He rarely doesn’t make contact. He will be a great major league hitter in the mold of Ryan Howard, but with less strikeouts.”
Ranked as one of the top 100 players in the country by MaxPreps, Barkley will get some long looks come draft day in June. He has a big frame that carries 250 pounds and makes him an imposing figure at the plate. Despite his size, Mandl says that Barkley’s athletic ability shouldn’t be underestimated.
“Just watching him on the field, he is a major presence,” Mandl said. “He is a gifted athlete. He is nimble for his size but a beast with a bat in his hands.”
Barkley has gotten used to being in the spotlight. Barkley was a star pitcher for the Harlem Little League team that played in the 2002 World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Always big for his age, Barkley was 5-foot-8 and 184 pounds as a 12-year old.
Barkley kept growing and joined the George Washington varsity as a freshman. By the time he was a sophomore he was hitting baseballs out of the park with incredible frequency. He batted .595 as a sophomore with 14 home runs and 65 RBI along with 18 doubles. He was equally spectacular on the mound, striking out 51 batters in 25 innings with a 0.73 ERA.
Barkley earned all-city and All-American honors that season. Although he missed his junior season, Barkley played with the New York Nine over the summer and played in the Jupiter Wood Bat Championship. He also participated in the International Showcase Home Run Derby in January and hit a pair of home runs over 415 feet with a wood bat.
Barkley has set some lofty goals for himself this year. Besides aiming for the school home record of 19, he also hopes to be drafted and win the championship at Yankee Stadium. He knows reaching his goals will be difficult.
“I’m being walked a lot right now, but we are winning, so that’s okay. We were 46-2 last year, but I think we are better this year. We have great chemistry, hitting and better pitching. We have some great young hitters like Mike Antonio, Xyruse Martinez, Nelson Rodriguez, and Erick Roman and some good pitching with Nestor Bautista and Yael Regalado.”
As for his own chances in the draft, Barkley knows what needs to be done.
“I’m used to playing in front of scouts because we always have prospects at GW,” Barkley said. “I play hard all of the time, though, not just when scouts are here. I know that I need to work out and watch my weight. I also try to work hard, practice all aspects of the game and stay away from outside influences.”
While Barkley’s pure ability is evident, he credits Mandl with helping him improve his game.
“He is more than a father to me. He pushes me, gives me confidence and is always there for every part of my life,” Barkley said. “He teaches me life lessons every day. He is more than a coach, he is a saint.”
Mandl isn’t shy in sending the praise right back at his talented player.
“Alibay is an unmatched leader with a fire and passion for the game and his teammates. He makes everyone around him better. He plays hurt and wants the ball all the time. He never has an issue with putting the necessary time in to become better.”
The Trojans are undefeated in PSAL play and have five games remaining before beginning postseason play. A run through the postseason would mean a berth in the championship game at Yankee Stadium.
And that would mean yet another dream come true for Barkley.