It will be a day that Dallas Jesuit’s Kyle Muller will never forget.
Sitting in the school auditorium with his teammates, Muller got the surprise of his life when Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels walked in and handed him the 2015-16 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award.
“My heart just dropped,” said Muller. “I didn’t know what to say.”
Muller was working a little league baseball camp earlier in the morning before being surprised with the award.
“It’s crazy because there is so many talented players out there and to be recognized as the best one by Gatorade, it’s really surreal, said Muller. “It is kind of hard to believe. I couldn’t imagine it being presented in a better way. I’m a Rangers fan and definitely a Cole Hamels fan.”
It’s not really that crazy when you look at the season Muller had for Dallas Jesuit. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound left-handed pitcher and outfielder owns an 8-0 record on the mound with a 0.46 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 76 innings. He’s fired five shutouts and two no-hitters entering the 6-A state semifinals this weekend. Muller set a national high school record by striking out 33 consecutive hitters in March. At the plate, Muller hit .396 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI. He’s a Texas signee who’s projected to be an early round pick in this week’s MLB draft.
“I kind of had an idea what I wanted to do this season and it really started in the offseason”, said Muller. “I was just making sure I did everything possible to get to a point like this. It took a lot of work for sure and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, coaches and family. They were a huge part in making me the person and baseball player that I am today.”
So what kind of advice would Hamels, a World Series MVP and three-time All-Star, give to Muller.
“Trying to work your way to the top which is obviously being a successful big leaguer, there’s going to be successes and there’s going to be failures, but it’s the foundation that you have,” said Hamels. “It’s the people that you surround yourself with. It’s taking that foundation and those lessons that you learned that’s what’s going to get you to the top.”
Muller is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
*Note: Muller is the fifth Texan to win the award. TCU freshman Luken Baker won it last season at Oak Ridge (Conroe, TX). Dodgers pitcher and three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw won for Highland Park in 2005-2006.
Written by C. James