Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak having fun again
One of the Phillies top prospects has a new outlook on the game.
A lot of pressure was thrown onto 18-year-old Mickey Moniak when the Phillies drafted him with the number one overall pick in 2016. Yet to receive his high school diploma, Moniak was paraded into Philadelphia, handed a $6.1 million signing bonus, and deemed a future superstar, comparable to Christian Yelich.
Fast-forward two years and Moniak’s professional career hasn’t blown many away as they thought. The sure-swinging outfielder hit just .236 for the Lakewood Crosscutters in his first full season out of high school, swamping his rankings on nearly every prospect board.
Moniak went from being a top-20 prospect in all of baseball to not being ranked in the Phillies’ top-10 or the league’s top-100 by Baseball America (subscription required).
Things didn’t improve for Moniak early in 2018 despite a promotion to Advanced-A Clearwater. In his first 40 games he hit a meer .216 with only five extra-base hits, all doubles. Even more concerning were the strikeouts and walks, which were horribly disproportional at 40:3.
However, things began to click for Moniak midway through the 2018 season thanks to a visit from some of his high school friends. Moniak told reporters last week that the visit brought him back to his high school days and reminded him what the game is all about.
“I had all my closest friends come visit me,” Moniak said. “I think there were 10 of us in a two-bedroom apartment in Clearwater. Just hanging out. I think I hit .500 that week with a handful of doubles. That little week, having them there, and performing with them there, it was just that realization that it’s just baseball.”
After those first 40 games, Moniak hit .300 with 31 extra base hits, including five home runs, in 74 games for the Threshers. Philadelphia rewarded him with an invitation to major league spring training, and an opportunity to join other minor leaguers in a prospect seminar at Citizens Bank Park.
It’s clear that Moniak’s season, and possibly his career, was revitalized by that week in Clearwater where he was reminded what the game is all about; having fun. Forget the money, rankings, and hype, that’s what the game is all about.
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“Having them there just made it feel like high school, when you’re just having fun and playing baseball,” Moniak said. “It just reverted me back to how it was in high school. Just having fun playing.”
The future of Philadelphia’s outfield is in flux with the potential of Bryce Harper joining this offseason and the dream of bringing Mike Trout home to the Delaware Valley.
Moniak was leapfrogged in the organization by 2017 first round pick Adam Haseley, who was several years old than Moniak and played for a very good Virginia program.
It would be a dream for the Phillies to see Haseley and Moniak be major contributors in the big leagues someday, but should Philadelphia go all-in in a couple of years with Harper and Trout there might only be room for one.
However, Moniak, and frankly the fan base, shouldn’t worry about the prospect of a Harper-Trout-Haseley/Moniak outfield. Everyone needs to enjoy the game and remember why we fell in love with it in the first place.