Community-college rule may speed athlete’s transition to major leagues

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Ryan Moore has been surrounded by baseball for as long as he can remember.  Ever since his dad put a New York Yankees cap on him when he was little and taught him how to play t-ball at the age of six, it has been Moore’s dream to play professional baseball one day-but not without getting an education first.   

Moore, now a senior varsity baseball player at Corona del Sol High School, may be one step closer to getting his wish.  This year, the leadoff hitter who can run the 60- yard dash in 6.35 seconds has Division I college and professional scouts visiting him from all over the country. 

These include visits from Kansas State and the Detroit Tigers, even though Moore, 17, has already signed with Chandler-Gilbert Community College for this fall. 

Often players sign with junior colleges because they can be drafted after only one year, compared to the three they have to wait if they sign with a Division I team. 

Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s baseball program has a turnout rate of around 90 percent of players that go on to a higher level of baseball, whether to play for a four-year university or professional team, said David Pankenier, the recruiting coordinator for Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Last year, Pankenier attended a Corona varsity baseball game to watch another recruit play.  But it was Moore, then a junior, whose speed and athleticism caught his eye. 

“We were really happy with his progression over the last year and the increase in his confidence level,” Pankenier said, after Moore signed this year.  “He did everything we knew he could do.”  

Besides his speed on the field, Moore prides himself on being a positive, motivating person who helps those around him-characteristics he thinks will translate into a future career as an educator. 

“I always try to be a good person,” Moore said. “I am a very positive person.  It helps me play better; it helps my teammates play better.” 

Moore’s mother, Laura, recognizes her son’s uniqueness to be a good athlete, as well as a good person in preparing for his future.  She said that it is important for her son to maintain his academics in case a professional baseball career doesn’t end up being realistic. 

“After maturing and becoming a senior he has turned out to be a very confident, sincere and a responsible human being,” Laura said.  “My hope is that Ryan grows and learns through everything he attempts and becomes a better man and, most importantly, gives back to this world what he has been given.”

David Webb, Moore’s coach at Corona who has worked with him for three years, said Moore is a valuable asset to their team. 

“He has always been talented and extremely fast, but he has added mental maturity and responsibility to his game,” Webb said.  “Ryan is a true leader for our team, and as we say, you go, we go.”

When he is not playing baseball or keeping his grades up, Moore likes to hang out with his friends, work out or play video games. 

“Ryan is an easy going kid that would rather chill at home than dance the night away at high school dances,” Laura said. 

After getting an education, Moore says, the dream-team he’d like to play for would be the New York Yankees. If the Yankees don’t work out, he said he would settle to play anywhere with nice weather, either in Florida, Arizona or California. 

In order for Moore to have a future as a Division I player or possibly be drafted after his time at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Pankenier said, he will need to build strength to transition from hitting with aluminum to wood bats. 

“It depends on how he makes adjustments at the plate,” Pankenier said. 

At Corona, Coach Webb emphasized that Moore represents a great success story.

“As a coach, kids like Ryan help me keep plugging along year after year,” Webb said.  

“To watch a kid grow so much in three years and become such a wonderful kid and phenomenal baseball player make it all worthwhile.”

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