Fort Myers, Fla. — 14- year old Ian Moller is another terrific young catcher from The Hawkeye State, joining last year’s MVP of the Perfect Game Select Festival, backstop Calvin Harris.
The 6-foot, 170 pound soon-to-be freshman at Dubuque Wahlert Catholic High School spoke to Perfect Game’s Jeff Dahn about his experience at the Select Festival, including his disbelief at being invited.
“At first, I thought it was fake, to be honest; I didn't believe it," he said through a laugh. “But it was real and I was really happy about it, and then it just made me want to work harder. I know that my training has to go up to another level whenever I get named to something big, so I just always try to step it up every day.”
Being from Iowa, Moller might sometimes feel like he's forced to approach the game at the national level with one arm tied behind his back, but he's able to work through that. His dad, Steven Moller, got him connected with Illinois-based Top Tier Baseball at a young age and since that relationship was formed, his game took off.
It’s his father who gets the credit from Ian for his love of the game. It's been Steven who has thrown him BP every day and who has taught him just about everything he knows. There have been other coaches – especially those at Top Tier – who have helped Moller in very important ways, of course, but it is his dad who works with him every day and makes sure he stays accountable and on track.
When he's playing the field, Moller is a catcher through-and-through and he relishes the role he plays behind the plate. There is the thrill of being in control, for one thing, but that's not nearly as satisfying as the feeling he gets when he senses that maybe he's helping make his pitchers a little better in the process. In reality, there just isn't much about the game Moller doesn't enjoy.
“I just love how the ball hits the bat, I like the sound of the cleats on the concrete; I just love everything about it,” he said. “I love hitting every day and I love throwing guys out when I’m catching. I just love helping the team out and doing everything I can from behind the plate because that’s where everybody’s focused on.”
When a prospect is 14 years old and loves the game as much as Moller does, the desire to improve and achieve the closest thing to perfection as possible can become all-consuming. Moller doesn't overdo it, of course, but he does watch a lot of video just to see what adjustments he needs to make to his swing or his actions behind the bat; he also spends a lot of time in the weight room.
Moller also slugged a home run in the Home Run Challenge on Sunday, one of only about a half-dozen or so to hit one on Field 1 at the sprawling, six-field JetBlue complex.
“It's really a lot of fun being out here with all the other guys cheering you on,” Moller said of taking part in the Challenge. “When you watch people like (Mississippi’s big bopper) Blaze (Jordan) hitting, it makes you step your game up a little bit; it makes you better.”
Moller’s game seems destined for others to cheer him on.
Perfect Game’s Jeff Dahn contributed this report