TOWN AND COUNTRY — A simple quote from Jerry Manuel has stuck with Westminster's Nick Moten for the last few weeks.
"The best quote he said was, 'To grow, you have to be attached to something permanent,' and that sparked a light in me," Moten said. "I thought that was an intriguing quote."
The soon-to-be Westminster junior took those words from former New York Mets manager to heart while he took part in Major League Baseball's Breakthrough Series at the end of June in Compton, Calif.
"It was an awesome experience and I'd love to go back," Moten said.
The Breakthrough Series is a program that focuses on developing players, both on and off the field, through talks, games and scout evaluations. Moten heard multiple guest speakers, including Manuel, participated in multiple games and drills, and got to see a little bit of what spring training is like for major league players in the two-day event.
"Our days were pretty filled," Moten said. "We had something to do pretty much every hour of the day."
Moten was invited to the series by MLB, much to the delight of Westminster coach Dan Petke.
"It's an awesome honor for him," Petke said. "They couldn't have picked a better guy. Humble young man who works as hard as anyone we've seen. Not just me, but all of us are excited for the opportunity he got and thankful to the MLB for selecting him and putting on these events."
Manuel's quote stuck with Moten in large part because it pertained more to his off-the-field focuses, such as grades.
"That's the biggest thing for me to keep my grades up so I can get into a good school," Moten said.
Moten felt right at home competing with some of the top young high school prospects in the nation. After all, the right-handed starting pitcher held his own on the mound against some of the best team's in Missouri during Westminster's run in the Class 4 state tournament, which ended with a loss to Borgia in the championship game.
"Throughout the season, he probably threw the toughest schedule among all of our pitchers," Petke said. "Partly because that's how the rotation worked out and partly we wanted to see what he was made of, and he really rose to the occasion every single time."
Moten started the Class 4 semifinal against Savannah and picked up his ninth win of the season. He went 5 2/3 innings, struck out four and only allowed four hits in the 10-0 six-inning victory.
"I was ready when I woke up that day," Moten said. "I barely talked on the way there. I was just in it and ready to go. As soon as I got done warming up, I didn't have a single nerve in me, I was ready to go."
Moten posted a 9-2 record with a 1.98 ERA last season. He had 67 strikeouts in 53 innings and held hitters to a .145 batting average.
Moten's steady rise last season mixed with his trip to the Breakthrough Series has him yearning to reach new heights.
"It was my first experience to be part of the MLB," Moten said. "We had our own locker room, it was kind of like spring training. Going there and seeing how spring training is run and what they do on an everyday basis, it just makes me want to work harder."
Petke knows he has a special talent in Moten and can't wait for the spring season to see just how much his hurler has improved.
"Being part of this Breakthrough Series is a testament to (all the work he has put in)," Petke said. "The sky is the limit for him. He's a special player and we have big expectations for him."