All-FCIAC Moss bats .444
Published 1:02 am, Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Grant Moss was at the epicenter of the Staples baseball team's success for the last three years. A captain before graduating last year, he was a First Team All-FCIAC selection this year and will be playing for Rollins College next year.
"It's a good feeling to be recognized by the coaches as the best catcher in the league, but the best feeling was the fact that Staples has 12 players honored by the FCIAC," Moss said.
Overall, he batted .444 with an on-base percentage of .526 and a slugging percentage of .667. Despite these numbers and playing for a team that was ranked highly in the state all year, he wasn't selected to the All-State team. Many people disagreed with it because based on his statistics and stellar play, he deserves to be an All-Stater, but he remains unfazed by it.
"I'm not as concerned with the individual accolades as I am with the team effort," Moss said. "I wish we went farther in the team playoffs."
The Wreckers were 18-2 in the regular season this year, 18-4 overall. During his three-year varsity career, Staples compiled a 52-19 record, won two FCIAC titles and he had the game-winning hit in the FCIAC championship game during his sophomore year.
"Grant was not only a strong hitter for us for three years, but was also a great defensive player at first base [during his sophomore year] and the last two years behind the plate," Wreckers Coach Jack McFarland said. "He was in the middle of our line-up for three years and always produced at a high level offensively and defensively. Grant was a huge part of our success and will go down as one of the great players of this era."
All three years at the varsity level, he was recognized by the league, earning All-FCIAC West Division honors sophomore and junior years.
"Sophomore year, I wasn't sure if I was going to make varsity," Moss recalled. "I remember facing [righty] Taylor Lasko of Bunnell [at the time and currently of Boston College] in a scrimmage and I remember hitting a double down the left field line. I felt if this was the pitcher I'd face this year, I felt confident."
All three years, he was a tough out and found ways to get on base. He almost always made contact and rarely struck out. Good hand-eye coordination also helps.
"I've always worked hard in making contact," Moss said. "I play baseball year-round and I'm used to hitting off of live pitching. It has come natural for me to hit it once it leaves the pitcher's hand. One trait I have is I try to put it where the fielders aren't. Being a big kid helps."
At 6-2, 190-pounds, he's capable of hitting for power as his 12 doubles, one home run and 32 RBI this year would attest. Sophomore year, he hit two home runs, but his power numbers were down junior year. He lifted weights after junior year, which led to his success this year.
"Junior year, I was obsessed with not striking out and when I had two strikes on me, I just tried to make contact," Moss admitted. This year, I was willing to strike out a few more times in order to hit more doubles."
In the end, his doubles output increased but his strikeout frequency remained the same.
Growing up, he was an infielder and pitcher, but at age 15 during summer baseball while playing for the Connecticut Bombers, Coach Paul Raccio asked his players if anyone wanted to be a catcher because his starting backstop was injured. Moss raised his hand and Raccio confidently put him behind the plate because the coach saw a lot of potential in him because of his strong arm.
"Changing my arm's motion from a pitcher's arm to a catcher's arm was the toughest part, but I had a catching coach working with me, which helped," he said.
Because the Wreckers had two high quality catchers during his sophomore year, he played first base that year. After Matt Friedland and Mike Samela graduated, Moss moved over to catcher junior year. He got to know his pitchers between junior and senior year and prevented many balls from going into the dirt by keeping the ball in front of him.
One thing he does well is blocking the plate, which prevented a few runs from scoring. He tagged out a Westhill runner at the plate to prevent a rally in the sixth inning in the FCIAC championship game and tagged out a bigger opponent from Norwich Free Academy (NFA) during the regular season even though the NFA runner crashed into him and caused him to fly 10 feet.
"Watching baseball since I was young and seeing the catcher block the plate helped it come natural to me," Moss said. "I felt if I could survive the collision against NFA, I could survive anything."
At age 3, he started to throw a wiffle ball with his older brother Wyatt (Staples '06). He began playing football in fourth grade but stopped in seventh grade. After playing for the Staples freshman team in ninth grade and JV and varsity sophomore year, he stopped playing football because he tore a labrum in his right shoulder.
"Going forward, I wanted to focus on baseball and didn't want to risk a football injury and it worked out," Moss said.
He still plays basketball at the recreational level, which he began doing in third grade.
Leadership is another strength of his as he served as captain with three classmates. He primarily led the team by example through his work ethic but also led verbally when things needed to be said.
"It was a good feeling and I enjoyed working with the younger kids," Moss said. "As a catcher, there's a lot of leadership with the position and it's nice being a leader."
McFarland said, "Grant was a great captain for us and a leader in the program for three years."
Academically, he took AP world history, AP US history and AP environmental history. History and social studies are his favorite subjects.
"My grades weren't good freshman and sophomore year but I stepped it up junior year and improved," Moss said.
Next year, he will be playing for Rollins College, which is outside of Orlando. He will major in history and knows in order to excel for the Tars, he has to raise his game to the next level.
"Keeping up my work ethic and taking advantage of the good weather and facilities they have down here is important," Moss said.
If he does well at Rollins, he could get drafted to play pro ball. He wants to play as long as he can but once his playing days are over, he plans on going to law school.
McFarland is confident his former catcher will play well for the Tars.
"Grant will have a real good college career," McFarland said. "Grant is very coachable and a quick learner. He will not only hit for average, but will also hit for power. Defensively he has great versatility and he can play multiple positions."