Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley Continuing To Adjust in 2018

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Over the last year, both Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley have come to understand pressure. Moniak felt it because he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and Haseley felt it because he was entering his junior season at Virginia and was a likely first-round pick.

Both can be found this spring on the backfields at the Phillies’ minor league complex, where they are working to prove themselves as professionals.

After a decorated high school career that included Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year award in 2016, Moniak endured a tough first professional season. With low Class A Lakewood, the 19-year-old hit .236/.284/.341 with five home runs and 44 RBIs.

Reports from scouts were middling at best, and he dropped from No. 17 on BA’s Top 100 to off the list entirely entering the 2018 season. Haseley, for his part, checked in at No. 100

Moniak is up front when he talks about last year. The season represented more down periods than he’d experienced during his career, and he struggled to adapt at times.

“Last season was a huge learning experience for me,” Moniak said. “It had its ups and it had its downs, but I’m excited for this year and I’m ready to get after it. That’s something I had to work on, because I’m not used to struggling playing baseball my whole life. It’s always kind of been smooth sailing, so last year when those downs did come it was definitely a learning experience.”

Haseley, too, had to adjust once he made the jump from college. He dominated in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he hit .391/.490/.659 with 14 homers and just 21 strikeouts in 223 at-bats despite facing excellent pitching from the likes of fellow first-rounders J.B. Bukauskas (Astros) and Brendan McKay (Rays).

He put together a .761 OPS in three stops after signing with the Phillies, but still had to work to adjust to life as a professional.

“It’s a little bit different game, obviously, with the wood bats,” Haseley said. “You have a lot more guys throwing harder in pro ball than you do in the ACC. You run into some guys every now and then who can run it up there, but it’s pretty much every night in pro ball that you’re going to find someone throwing that hard.

“That was a little bit of a change and it’ll just be something I continue to work on this year.”

Part of the reason Moniak is hopeful for a rebound year involves the changes in his body. He’s put on considerable strength since last year, which will boost his power and hopefully help him withstand the rigors of a long season under the uncomfortable combination of heat and humidity in the Florida State League.

To achieve that goal, he spent the offseason back home in San Diego working out at the EXOS performance academy alongside a handful of former college football players—including Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State), Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) and Royce Freeman (Oregon)—who are likely to be taken in April’s NFL Draft.

“I just went into the offseason extremely motivated to just get better and prove a lot of people wrong this year,” Moniak said. “I just went into it looking to gain weight, go out and be better this season and go out and play my game and play it at a level I know I can play at. It was a lot of motivation and a lot of hard work.”

Moniak knows, too, that there has to be a balance. He needed to get stronger, but he also had to stay agile enough to stay in center field as he matures and goes forth in his career.

“It’s not necessarily that you’re looking to put on weight, but it’s good weight,” he said. “It’s moreso staying quick and keeping my speed, and I think I did a really good job of that this year.”

After enduring pressure as amateurs and professionals, Haseley and Moniak are ready to return in 2018 and prove themselves all over again.

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