Mickey Moniak struggled heavily in his first full professional season, but is it enough to warrant worrying about the Phillies’ top 2016 draft pick?
While 2017 was a year of growth for many prospects in the Phillies farm system, one that did not develop nearly as much as we hoped was Mickey Moniak. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Moniak was considered the second-best prospect in the system behind J.P. Crawford by most. After this year, where he should rank is a little murky.
Moniak made his full-season debut this year still at 18 years old. In his age-19 season, Moniak was 2.5 years younger than the average player in the South Atlantic League. Most players his age don’t make their debut in Low-A until they turn at least 20 years old, but the team felt confident enough in Moniak to start him off there.
Through the first two months of the season Moniak was actually above-average at the plate. He had a .279/.333/.413 line with a 113 wRC+ through his first 48 games. It wasn’t a Rhys Hoskins or Scott Kingery-esque start, but it certainly wasn’t bad.
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During this year’s midseason prospect rankings, Baseball America and MLB.com both still felt good enough about Moniak to place him at the top of Philadelphia’s farm system. At that point his stats hadn’t completely fallen off and he was still showing all of the tools that made him a top pick in the first place.
After that, Moniak’s performance fell off.
From June until the end of the season, Moniak hit just .209 with a .549 OPS in 75 games. He walked just 4.5 percent of the time with a 21.9 percent strikeout rate. His OPS got progressively worse each month with it falling all the way to .410 in August.
As a whole this year, Moniak finished with a .236/.284/.341 line with five home runs, 53 runs scored, 44 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases. Certainly not top prospect numbers.
While Moniak’s bad performance certainly is concerning, it should be noted that he was among one of the youngest players in the league. Moniak told Kyle Glaser of Baseball America that he had to make a lot of adjustments coming into Low-A action:
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"“I’d say the way I get pitched now has been the biggest adjustment,” Moniak said. “There’s more offspeed getting thrown in hitters counts; 3-1 you’re not necessarily going to see a fastball; you’re not necessarily going to see a fastball 0-0 and might get started backwards. That’s something that’s been an adjustment. It’s all a learning experience and I’m running with it.”"
Hopefully, Moniak continues to hone those adjustments over the offseason. A return to Low-A to start 2018 would probably be for the best.
This would give him the chance to start the year off strong before going to the hitter-unfriendly Florida State League.
Another thing Moniak will look to improve upon this season is strength. At 6’2″, 185 pounds, it’s safe to say he could build up some muscle. This would help him stay consistent at the plate as the season wears on. He also had that issue in 2016 after being drafted, so it’s definitely important that Moniak builds strength.
While Moniak’s dip in output this season certainly should raise at least some concern, he has recognized the adjustments he needs to make. At a such young age, expecting Moniak to rip the cover off the ball was a little much. If he goes into 2018 and makes the adjustments that he needs to make, an uptick in performance should go along with it.