BEMIDJI, Minn. — Born in Venezuela, former Bemidji State University outfielder Juan Molero came to the United States of America for a college education and to play baseball. After four-years of playing collegiate baseball and competing in a summer wood bat league, Molero got the opportunity to not only represent USA for the American International Sports Teams (AIST), but help it win the 2012 Prague Baseball Week Tournament (June 27-July 1).
Molero batted second and started in center field all five games for the AIST, including the championship game against the top level Czech Republic National Team. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a stolen base in the 12-6 victory for the team’s third-straight Prague Baseball Week Championship. He also caught the final out to secure the three-peat. Overall he recorded a .369 batting average after going 7-for-19 with six runs and four RBIs.
“Playing for and representing the United States in an international tournament was perhaps one of the best experiences in my life,” Molero said. “I got to play with guys from all over the U.S. and it was amazing how well we got along.
“Once the tournament started we played every day, but had the afternoons to tour Prague.”
The AIST team scored 63 runs in five games, starting with an 18-3 victory against the Sweden National Team. A close 7-6 victory against another United States-based team, Team International, and a 15-6 win against the Czech Republic 21U National Team set-up AIST as the top team out of pool play. The Americans used an 11-2 victory to propel them to the championship game, which proved to be a historic win, as no team in the history of one of Europe’s biggest international baseball tournaments had won the championship three times in a row.
“It was really cool to meet the Ambassador of the United States to the Czech Republic,” Molero said. “We got to talk to him before the championship game.
“It was an amazing experience interacting with players from all over the world (U.S., Belgium, Prague, Poland, Holland, Sweden Germany, ect) and learning how they see the game of baseball.”
Players on AIST come from universities and colleges from around the country. The 2012 roster included former University of Minnesota Duluth shortstop Marcus Riewer, who won the tournament’s batting title.
Molero came to Bemidji State as a junior after playing two seasons at Culver Stockton College (Idaho). He made the move to Bemidji after talking to former Graduate Assistant Coach P.J. McIntee during the Boise Summer League - a college wood bat league. McIntee was coaching the Wilson Bulldogs and noticed Molero and Culver Stockton teammate Mauricio Gomez and both transferred to BSU for the 2011 season.
After starting 21 games as a junior and leading the team in batting with a .322 average, Molero became the everyday center fielder for the Beavers in 2012. He started all 50 games for a BSU team that finished 23-27 overall to tie for the third-most wins in a season in the 61-year program history. He totaled 43 hits, 30 runs, 21 RBIs and 11 doubles (second on the team). He stole three bases to tie for the team lead and in the field, recorded a .985 fielding percentage with 124 putouts and four assists.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).