MLB Draft: 3 Iowa high school baseball stars waiting for their call
After spending the summer working out with Major League Baseball teams and participating in the MLB Draft Combine, Iowa native Ian Moller was invited to be a part of one more marquee event. Moller was offered the chance to attend the MLB Draft in Colorado along with some of the nation's other top high school and college talent.
The Dubuque native didn't want to be part of the glitz and glamour of the event, which is timed around the MLB Futures Game and All-Star Game. Moller, one of the top high school catchers in the nation, said he'll stay in Iowa and follow the action at a local Buffalo Wild Wings with his support group.
"I just wanted to share it with all my friends and family and everybody that kind of helped me get there to this point and support me," Moller said. "My friends don't get to really see stuff like this. So, knowing that I'm going to be able to do that for them and be able to share the experience, too, will mean a lot to me."
The experience gets started for Moller and a few other high school players in the state on Sunday. That's when the three-day MLB Draft begins. Round 1 is Sunday, and rounds 2-10 are Monday. The event concludes with rounds 11-20 Tuesday.
Three Iowa high school players could be a part of the action early on. Moller, Ankeny pitcher Brody Brecht and Waukee pitcher Jackson Wentworth have generated big-time draft buzz and could be selected in the first two days of the draft.
Here's a look at the three players and why big-league teams are taking a look.
Brody Brecht, Ankeny, pitcher
What's the buzz: Brecht is one of the most intriguing players in the draft. The right-handed pitcher boasts a high 90s fastball and a solid slider. But Brecht hasn't focused on baseball and may be just scratching the surface of his potential. Many scouts believe if he did go all-in on baseball and fine-tuned his mechanics, his fastball could reach triple digits. But that's a big if. Brecht, a star wide receiver at Ankeny, has committed to play baseball and football at Iowa. His dream of playing football for the Hawkeyes could keep him low on teams' draft boards.
Projection: Brecht has first-round potential but could slip and maybe not even be selected. He's been adamant that if teams don't come up with his asking price, they shouldn't even draft him. Early-round money may be the only way Brecht could be lured away from Iowa.
PREVIOUSLY: Ankeny native Brody Brecht weighing big decision
Ian Moller, Dubuque, catcher
What's the buzz: Moller has all the intangibles that intrigue big-league teams. He has a powerful bat that was on full display during the draft combine. According to MLB.com, Moller tallied two of the top 10 highest average distance numbers in the event. He's also shown off a strong arm behind the plate. Moller, long considered one of the best prep catchers in the nation, has spent his entire high school career playing against some of the top talent in the nation. The LSU commit passed on playing high school baseball in Iowa and has instead spent his summer traveling the country competing in tournaments and showcases.
Projection: Moller has had first-round buzz for more than a year. That still could happen, but a second-round selection might be more realistic.
Jackson Wentworth, Waukee, pitcher
What's the buzz: Wentworth has been rising up draft boards since last season. He's perhaps the most polished pitcher in the state with a mid-90s fastball, an elite curveball and a strong changeup. Wentworth has been impressing evaluators the past few months with a strong summer playing for Waukee and impressive outings at the Perfect Game Pre-Draft Showcase and the combine. He's committed to play at Kansas State, but that decision is far from certain as Wentworth's stock has improved over the past year.
Projection: Wentworth is likely a Day 2 pick, going as early as the second round and as late as the fifth round. His strong 2021 has led him to gain more and more momentum.
Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at email@example.com or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.
HOW TO WATCH
Major League Baseball hopefuls will learn their fates beginning Sunday with the 2021 MLB Draft in Denver. The first 36 picks (29 first-round selections and seven compensation picks) will be made on Sunday, with coverage starting at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN and MLB Network.
Day two of the draft, which will feature picks from the second round through round 10, will take place on Monday, with coverage beginning at noon CT on MLB.com. Day Three, rounds 11-20, will start on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT on MLB.com.