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Bats or blades?

Levi Moon once faced a tough decision: should he play hockey or baseball?

He dropped hockey following his second year of bantam to concentrate full time on baseball after receiving an offer to attend the Badlands Baseball Academy in Oyen.

It turned out to be a great decision.

“Hockey wasn’t going to work out for me so baseball was my next option, and besides I was better at baseball,” explained the 18-year-old, who is in his third season with the Red Deer Carstar Braves midget AAA team.

“(Attending the Badlands Academy) was good for me,” he said. “It’s a good program and I learned a lot.”

He just finished his third and final year at Badlands in June and has accepted a scholarship offer to attend Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, N.Y.

“I was hoping to get a scholarship, especially to some cool place like California or New York,” Moon said. “So that worked out.”

Moon first caught the attention of Badlands Academy head coach Jeff Amos when he was playing bantam AAA.

“Jeff attended one of our games to see a couple players and he invited me for a visit and it went from there,” explained Moon. “Once I got there, they made me into the player they wanted, which helped a lot. If you were hitting they found a place for you to play.”

Moon played third and first base and also pitched with the Badlands Badgers, and he can also catch.

“I was playing third base a lot, but I fractured my (right) wrist a couple of months ago and so I couldn’t throw to first, and couldn’t pitch,” he said.

But he could hit, which is one of his strengths.

“He has a great swing and a good future ahead of him. I’m excited to see what he can do at college,” said Braves assistant coach Drew Boyer.

“The fact he’s versatile will only help him. The more positions you can play the better, especially at the college level where they have so many players. When you’re stuck at one position there’s less options for you to get in the lineup. But when you can catch, play first or third and occasionally pitch, it helps. But for me I see Levi as a corner guy.”

Moon doesn’t mind playing any or the positions, but “I enjoy playing third base the most.”

The fact he was able to attend the Badlands Academy helped him work on both the defensive and offensive sides of his game.

“They have a good indoor facility and we were able to work all winter. I took a lot of ground balls and could hit in the cage and off the tee. That helped my swing a lot.”

At six-foot and 215 pounds, Moon has the build to drive the ball with power. “What I need to do is concentrate on line drives,” he said.

Levi’s father, Cam (the play-by-play voice of the Red Deer Rebels), played a major role in his development. The elder Moon has always loved baseball and has worked as a coach for years.

Cam knew from the time Levi was a youngster that baseball was in his blood.

“He always loved the game,” said Cam, who is his second year as head coach of the Braves. “Even when he was four or five, he liked to play catch and hit the ball.

“I remember a summer where I was coaching in the mosquito house league and Levi was our bat boy. He was always wanting to play catch and swing the bat. He was always that way. You never had to ask him twice about attending practice or a game.”

Cam is a huge booster of the Badlands program.

“Levi’s three years there were huge for him in his athletic development and his personal growth. He needed that growth he got by being away from home the three years. It will certainly help him going away to college. It won’t be as big of an adjustment.

“It’s in another country and a level up, but he’s ready for it. He had excellent coaching in Oyen. I have nothing bad to say about that program.”

Cam will jump in the car with Levi in the middle of August and take the trip to Sanborn.

“We’re planning on seeing as many major league games as we can on the way. I’m looking forward to it.

“The hard part will be saying goodbye. He’s been away for three years, but I did get a chance to see him play (around here). That won’t be as easy now. It’s a bit farther away.”

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