Jerry Gasz has coached high school baseball for nearly 50 years and has worked with a lot of talented players, including three who were drafted by major league teams.
Of those three players, the Williamsville East skipper says Charlie Mack is the best of the lot.
"What sets him apart from the other players I had is I've never had a player who is driven like he is," Gasz said. "I've coached in summer (leagues), too. … He's the hardest worker who I have come along."
Mack's hard work has resulted in him not only being selected by the Minnesota Twins last month but also earning Player of the Year honors in Western New York – as voted by area baseball coaches.
Mack headlines this year's edition of the Coaches All-Western New York first team.
Including second and honorable-mention status, Mack has four All-WNY honors during his six seasons with the Flames. It's the shortstop's second first-team honor, as he also earned the distinction as a sophomore after helping Williamsville East reach the state final.
Mack hit .475 in league and playoff games for the Section VI Class A-1 champions. The New York State Gatorade Player of the Year drove in 23 runs, scored 34 runs and belted five home runs in helping Williamsville East to a 19-2 overall record.
Mack became the seventh player in six years to be drafted out of high school in Western New York when he was chosen in the sixth round by the Twins. He recently signed for $500,000, which is nearly double the $253,700 slotted for the No. 184 pick in the draft, rather than attending Clemson.
He follows recent Players of the Year Leugim Castillo (2017) of Lancaster and Dan Dallas (2016) of Canisius in being drafted and opting to turn professional after signing letters of intent to play collegiately.
An example of Mack's relentless work ethic: On the day he was drafted, he was busy working on his hitting at a local baseball academy.
The work ethic also is just part of the reason Gasz considers Mack slightly better than the previous Williamsville East products who were drafted: Paul Daddario (1983) and Zach Anderson (2009 after he played at University at Buffalo).
Mack, who is currently playing third base in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League in Florida, also proved to be very versatile and played wherever the team needed him in order to improve its chances at victory. Mack played shortstop, third, catcher and even pitched (except for this past season) in his time at Williamsville East.
"Charlie Mack has the quickest hands I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of hitters," Gasz said. "In the years I've coached and I've had some outstanding players, what sets him apart from everybody else is his versatility. … It doesn't matter where I played him. He's our best player."
The only repeat All-Western New York first-team selection is Lancaster senior Tom Bednarski, who accomplished the feat last season while at Alden. He went 3-1 this season with the lone loss coming via pitcher's duel in the Far West Regional to Victor. He pitched a perfect game against Jamestown in the playoffs to help Lancaster win its fourth Section VI Class AA title in seven years.
He will continue his career at Niagara.
Far West Regional: Roy-Hart (Class B), Brocton (Class D).
Section VI: Lancaster (Class AA), Maryvale (Overall Class A), Williamsville East (Class A-1), Olean (Class B-1), Class C (Silver Creek/Forestville).
Georgetown Cup: St. Francis.