Transfer to game changer: How Xavier Moronta is making a difference


Landon Williams

Junior outfielder Xavier Moronta awaits his turn to bat during App State’s 19-6 loss to Gardner-Webb March 5, 2023.

Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor

Over the offseason, App State baseball welcomed five transfers, one of which being a junior outfielder who totaled 12 hits and 11 runs in his first five games as a Mountaineer.

Xavier Moronta, from Miramar, Florida, has only ever known baseball. He started playing the game when he was two and a half years old.

“Ever since then, I remember playing baseball,” Moronta said.

Before committing to App State, Moronta played at Santa Fe College, a long way from Boone. 

“To me, my teammates are my family,” Moronta said.

The adjustment to living in the High Country has been an easy process for the Floridian outfielder.

“Scenery and these mountains are beautiful, and also the team and culture of just wanting to work hard and grind, getting better every day,” Moronta said. “I didn’t feel like it was too hard of an adjustment for me to come here and compete.”

From the recruitment process, the Mountaineer coaching staff believed his play could make a difference.

“I knew if everything worked out, it would be a perfect place for him to go, and he knew that on his end,” head coach Kermit Smith said.

App State gained a competitive player who is willing to work harder than the rest and has the confidence to be a great player.

“Mentally, I think I’ve always been a tough player and haven’t been scared of any competition,” Moronta said. “I don’t care what school we’re playing, I don’t care if the guy’s projected first round, that doesn’t mean anything to me. He’s throwing the baseball and I’m ready to hit it.”

As the fall exhibition games began, Moronta was rehabbing a significant groin injury and had to wait until spring before returning to the field.

“He didn’t have an offseason. He was banged up in the fall and did not get to play much for us at all,” assistant coach Britt Johnson said. “He spent a lot of the time in the training room with our trainer Christina Biddle, making sure he was ready for the spring.”

Even in dealing with adversity in the offseason, Moronta became a leader for the Mountaineers.

“If I lead in any type of way, I would say by example because I try to work as hard as I can and get as many swings in the cage as much as I can,” Moronta said.

In the offseason, Smith focused on making his team “fast, physical and tough.” The phrase has become a calling card for the 2023 Mountaineers, with Moronta being an example of this identity.

“There’s a humongous value of being a really good person, enjoying who you work with every day,” Smith said. “Whether you want to call it leadership or to be a good teammate or being fast, physical and tough, whatever you want to say in that, that’s what he is.”

Once the season started, Moronta had six hits and seven runs in nine at-bats in his first weekend series against Queen’s University. He followed the series with four hits, three RBIs and two runs in the next game against High Point. 

“We had an idea that he was going to be pretty good, but no idea it was going to be what it has been to this point,” Johnson said.

After four games, Moronta was seventh in NCAA Division I leaders in on-base percentage with .800.

“He never gets too hot, he never gets too low,” Johnson said. “Even when he was in that stretch to start the year and you would’ve never known about it by the way he was acting.”

The next series against North Carolina A&T Feb. 25 was Moronta’s first test of adversity, going hitless. 

“Those two games were the first two games that I dealt with adversity,” Moronta said. 

The next day was again hitless until a prime at-bat in the 10th inning where Moronta hit a two-run RBI-double to center field to secure the victory and the series sweep to remain undefeated.

“That was a big reason to get down on myself, but I never did because I’m always in it for the team,” Moronta said.

With a long baseball season ahead, Moronta has already had a season to remember in his short time as a Mountaineer.

“I think he can have a really good career here,” Smith said.