The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Mickey Moniak with the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He was a high school outfielder who was seen as a player that could develop into an everyday Major League center fielder. As the Phillies approached a window in which they believed the time to win is now, their plans with the top pick changed.
Moniak was traded last August for right-handed starter Noah Syndergaard to the Los Angeles Angels. The Phillies viewed the move as a way to increase their rotation depth. While Syndergaard did not have major impacts for the club, he was serviceable as a number five starter at times.
At the time, Moniak had played in 47 games for the Phillies over parts of three seasons. He never really showed much of his potential in Philadelphia. He showed promise coming out of spring training in 2022 but was hit by a pitch prior to the start of the regular season and broke his hand. He never truly rebounded, and the Phillies ultimately found him expendable.
The club— in a separate trade— acquired Brandon Marsh from Los Angeles the same day. Marsh was then viewed as the potential everyday centerfielder. The move ended up being a positive for both players as the change of scenery has helped Moniak and Marsh improve their numbers pretty drastically with their new clubs.
Since arriving in Philadelphia, Marsh has increased his batting average by a significant margin and his .814 OPS is the highest of his career. He is also tied for the National League lead in triples.
Moniak has seen even more of an improvement since he arrived in Los Angeles. The 25-year-old centerfielder began the 2023 season in Triple A but was recalled to the Major League club in May. Since being recalled, Moniak has appeared in 47 games for the Halos. In that span he is slashing .331/.362/.615 with 11 home runs and 34 RBI.
All of those numbers far surpass any year that he had in his brief time in red pinstripes. Moniak is finally seeing regular playing time and is healthy. The change of scenery and the pressure of being an organization's first overall draft pick have also been lifted from his shoulders. Moniak is also healthy, and it is showing. The Phillies should not regret trading their young future centerfielder as they received another one in return in Marsh. Th return for Moniak— given his current production— may not have been worth trading for in hindsight.
Moniak's success has been a very small sample size. There is no telling if he will continue to produce at this rate— it is almost certain that there will be some sort of decline towards his average numbers— but it is a positive to see two players benefit from a trade and a change for the betterment of their careers.