The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Ian Moller, a talented prep catcher with an explosive arm and impressive power at the plate.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Draft Profiles.
Ian Moller, Catcher, Wahlert (Iowa)
Weight: 190 lbs.
Moller has an impressive, smooth swing and tremendous launch angle, which translates to an enormous surge of power for the backstop. Meanwhile, behind the plate, he has a very strong arm, though accuracy has been a concern on a couple of occasions. He is also fairly athletic and still young, meaning there is still time for him to move to a different position if teams don’t love his long-term projection behind the plate.
Power is Moller’s top trait. He often demonstrates a large launch angle that surely appeals to many teams under today’s umbrella of modern analytics. Such a smooth, advanced swing provides a major boost to his stock, especially considering he’s a prep prospect and just 18 years old. In addition to power, Moller is simply a solid hitter, too. He has good bat speed and is able to locate gaps and hit the ball to all parts of the field. His spread-out spray chart forces teams to not shift against him, allowing him more room to hit.
As mentioned, Moller has a very strong arm, too. He has posted sub-2.00 pop times frequently, and such valuable arm strength could help him keep a job behind the dish even if some teams want to move him to the corner infield or outfield. He also has above-average athleticism in comparison to other catchers. This allows him to receive balls well but could also make for a smooth transition to a new position if necessary. Third base, left field, and right field would be the likely landing spots for Moller if he doesn’t happen to stick as a catcher.
Strikeouts (and swings-and-misses in general) are a concern when it comes to Moller. Much like many power hitters in today’s game, Moller’s exaggerated launch angle and aggressive swing have led to an above-average amount of whiffs. Teams will have to decide if this is a fair trade-off in exchange for a solid power output out of the catcher.
As athletic as Moller is, concerns about his fielding ability have lingered. He’s an average fielder at best, and this is one reason why an eventual move away from the plate seems quite possible. Specifically, there is concern about his blocking ability, so the idea is that his fielding would not be a liability if he shifted to third base or the outfield.
Finally, Moller is a poor runner. He’ll have some range from time to time and might notch an uncontested stolen base here or there, but he cannot run during high-pressure situations. He won’t turn a double into a triple, nor will he be able to sprint long distances for an outfield fly that is barely catchable.
Pro Comparison: Will Smith
There is a lot in common between Moller and Smith, a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both are right-handed hitters that possess a thinner stature compared to the more traditional catcher profile. They also have power, as Smith has launched 30 homers over the past 146 games. He’s already gone yard seven times so far this season and is on pace to exceed his single-season career-high of 15. He is also a solid hitter in general, producing a .268/.367/.533 slash line through two-plus MLB seasons. Finally, Smith has 7.7 dWAR so far this season, emphasizing that he has value in the field. A career trajectory mirroring that of Smith would be the goal for Moller as it means he wouldn’t have to change positions.
Draft Projection: Third-Round Pick
There was a time where Moller garnered first-round hype, though some inconsistency both as a hitter and fielder led to a drop in value this spring. Additionally, catchers in particular are hard to project out of high school, so there is certainly an unpredictability factor here. With that said, Moller has proven he can hit, hit for power, and be a serviceable catcher. His ideal landing spot is a club that preaches launch angle and aggressive power hitting.
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Main Image Credit: Perfect Game