Mount Pearl’s Dylan Moss, some might say, is dressed for success on the baseball diamond.
Moss, 17, plays for the Ontario Blue Jays, an age-group club team in the Premiere Baseball League of Ontario (PBLO), and through its partnership with Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays, the team is decked out in old professional ball players uniforms.
“Last year, I had Reed Johnson’s pants,” said Moss. “A couple of my teammates have Roy Halliday’s pants and cleats.”
If Moss continues to progress as he has for the past four years, former Blue Jays’ duds may not be the last pro uniform he wears.
This fall, Moss will take a big step towards what could be a crack at pro ball when he starts his freshman season with the Chicago State University (CSU) Cougars, an NCAA Division I baseball school in the Great West Conference.
“There were a few other schools in Iowa and a couple in New York, but Chicago was my best offer,” says Moss of his partial scholarship to the Illinois school.
“The coach offered me a starting position at first base. But I guess the numbers will tell whether I keep that.”
Those numbers aren’t grades or his fielding percentage. It’s his batting average.
“He’s a very good hitter, that’s his strength,” says Bill Taggart, who has coached Moss with the Provincial Selects and with the 2009 Canada Summer Games team. “He puts a lot of time into hitting and that’s how he’s progressed through the ranks. He’s hit wherever he’s went.”
That’s included the Canada Games, multiple national championship tournaments with the Mount Pearl Blazers and last year’s national junior championship with the St. John’s Capitals. In the latter competition, he finished 10th in tournament batting as a 17-year-old in a field dominated by 20- and 21-year-olds.
While he has always been blessed with a raw, natural ability to swing a bat — “Ever since I picked up a bat, I knew I could hit,” he says — joining the Ontario Blue Jays’ travel club has helped refine his swing.
“He’s been travelling a lot with them, so he’s seen some pretty good competition. He’ll get a lot of repetition in,” Taggart says.
For any ball player whose game revolves around his production at the plate, a consistent swing is key and Moss, Taggart insists, has, “taken a keen interest in his hitting.”
“Baseball is a repetition sport and it can sometimes be tedious. But Dylan has an attention to detail and looks closely at what he’s doing and what he can improve.”
The Blue Jays’ season is split into two parts; a seven-week fall PBLO season and three months of club team competition throughout the U.S. from May to the end of July. In between between, Moss makes a few trips to the mainland just, “to stay on par with their workouts.”
But to land a roster spot and still live at home in Mount Pearl while finishing high school at O’Donel, the Blue Jays asked that he get his own batting cage.
“If I didn’t have it, I’d be off for five or six months while my team would be hitting all year,” says Moss, who has a cage and gym set up at his father’s warehouse off Topsail Road.
There, along with local Gonzaga Vikings senior infielder Dave Parsons, Moss works on his timing, repeating his swing and developing more versatility at the plate.
“We try to go to opposite field a lot to get me more accustomed to going that way so I can spread the ball over the field. It opens up a lot of gaps.
“If you can hit it where it’s pitched, it’s better than trying to pull it all the time.”
Through his travels with the Blue Jays, Moss has encountered a number of scouts and last year attended two Spring Top Prospect Showcases. Perfect Game USA, one of the leading baseball scouting services, stated on its website that Moss, “showed strength in his swing and the ability to hit to opposite field” while another report suggested he has, “some potential with adjustments.”
Of course, his play at the plate is only part of his game. The reports at Perfect Game say Moss, “showed good reflexes and hand eye coordination, especially at first base.”
Taggart says Moss a solid fielder, but doesn’t posess a lot of speed.
“He’s not a burner by any means and he’ll be the first to tell you that,” said Taggart. “But he works at that and he’s got good hands around the bag.
“But he’s a hitter. That’s his thing.”
Moss isn’t looking too far ahead in his baseball career, preferring to let his play at Chicago State in the fall dictate what happens down the road.
“I know they are few and far between who make it there, but why not try?”
Taggart says if Moss continues to hit and adjusts to NCAA ball, there’s no telling how far he can go.
“Regardless if you can’t run or can’t field, the old saying is that if you can hit, they’ll find a spot for you.”