By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- Hitting isn’t easy.
Ted Williams once said, “The hardest thing to do in baseball is to hit a round ball with a round bat squarely,” that sentiment rings true to this day.
Though some have a knack for making the tedious look easy, and Jack Moss (Arizona State) is one of those hitters.
The rising sophomore first baseman comes to the Cape following a solid spring with the Sun Devils, where he hit .305 in 48 games.
“I’ve worked harder than anyone else and I’ve put in the hours,” Moss said. “I’ve just got to be able to trust myself. I think that was the case when things were going well.”
The secret lies in his approach, something Moss is constantly fine tuning. He takes pride in his smooth, powerful opposite field stroke, a place a majority of his 47 total hits came from at ASU this spring.
Moss steps to the plate with one thing on his mind: left-center field. Seeing the ball deep in the zone is key for him as he tries to hit the gap with authority.
“I think when you try to sit left-center regardless of who is pitching, it allows for a lot of adjustability,” Moss said. “It enables me to hit offspeed pitches and hit them well. If I think anything right of the batter's eye, I get myself in trouble. It’s about understanding what the pitcher is trying to do to get me out.”
Moss has certainly had a good understanding of that for most of his career, dating back to his days at Cherry Creek High School, where he was rated as the no. 2 overall player in the state of Colorado by Perfect Game. His senior season saw him win the Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .490 in 31 games.
Back then, he started tinkering with visualization and using meditation and other methods to help get his mind right before he even stepped on the field. At this point in his development, Moss believes being mentally sound is all that is needed to continue to improve his offensive output.
“I think that’s literally everything that baseball requires, it’s such an undervalued piece of training,” Moss said. “Being present over perfect is the epitome of the mental game. The more I can just stay in the moment and not worry about the past or the future is when I’ve had a lot of success. That’s not just in baseball but life.”
That same mindset is exactly what Moss will be continuing to build this summer with the Firebirds, on a roster where good hitting seems to be a common trait. The Firebirds currently possess a lineup that combined to hit 87 homers during the spring, with some of the nation’s best hitters like A-10 Player of the Year Tyler Locklear (VCU) and Big-12 Player of the Year Jace Jung (Texas Tech) leading the way.
Moss doesn’t try to get too caught up in that, instead focusing on what makes him special and deserving of a shot to play with some of the best talent in the country.
“As I’ve grown older, I’ve really just bought into the idea of being you,” Moss said. “Be who you are and whatever makes you comfortable. The philosophy I believe in is that every good hitter does things very similar if not the same. I guess what I’ve tried to model my swing after is not any particular guy but just the things they do really well.”
Moss still studies and listens to some of the best in the business, citing Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto and former Firebird Todd Helton.
“I’ll take bits and pieces from all of those guys,” Moss said. “Obviously they are all really good, but at the same time I don’t want to be anyone else because I have my own style and way of doing things.”
At one point during the spring season, Moss had a stretch where he hit safely in 14 of 15 games, recording multiple hits in seven of those contests. During that time he also drove in nine runs and scored 12 times.
That’s the kind of production Moss is capable of when he lets the game come to him, and not the other way around. It’s all about staying true to himself and commanding what is within his reach.
“This past spring at Arizona State I don’t really think there was ever a point where I was lost,” Moss said. “There were definitely points early on in the season that I had to learn from to help me stay within myself. In baseball there is always going to be so much negative to look at and that’s why I stay positive.”
Moss is excited to have the chance to get some perspective from others on the Firebirds who have had success at the plate this year and in the past. With Orleans possessing one of the most potent lineups in the league, the young infielder has a lot he can learn from while he is down on the Cape.
“I haven’t really talked to anyone about hitting yet but I think that will change,” Moss said. “I’m really curious to know what a lot of these guys have to say. I’m excited to share the field with all of them, this team is loaded, it’s crazy. I think we’re going to be really good.”
Through it all, the biggest thing Moss understands is that baseball is just a game. Regardless if he goes 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, he will always be thankful that he has the chance to even take the field in the first place.
“The biggest thing for me this summer is to go in without any expectations and to treat everyday as its own story,” Moss said. “I want to be able to play free and have fun and not worry about the results. Not to play careless baseball but to learn how to care less. I have a lot of people who love me, and even if I don’t get a hit this summer I’m going to pride myself on being a good teammate and to just keep things in perspective.”