Phillies Land ‘Best Player’ Moniak At No. 1

PHILADELPHIA—For months, the Phillies’ plan leading up to the No. 1 overall pick in the draft appeared to center around landing an elite pitcher. After all, first-year general manager Matt Klentak is on record as saying his goal is to build the club with “waves of pitching.”

When no pitcher separated himself as a clear-cut No. 1, the Phillies zeroed in on San Diego-area prep center fielder Mickey Moniak.

“Toward the three-quarter mark of the season, he started to define himself as a superior talent,” scouting director Johnny Almaraz said.

The 18-year-old from La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad, Calif., became the second player to be selected No. 1 in Phillies franchise history. Pat Burrell was the top overall pick in 1998, the year Moniak was born.

“The No.1 pick has always been a dream,” Moniak said. “
It’s definitely a huge honor.

“I’m very excited to be a Phillie. I’m definitely looking to get out there as soon as possible. I’m just ready to get the professional career started and, hopefully, get up to Philadelphia as fast as I can.”

All signs point to the Phillies and Moniak agreeing to a signing bonus for less than the $9.01 million assigned to the top pick by Major League Baseball. The Phillies will use the bonus savings to sign picks such as California prep righthander Kevin Gowdy, the club’s second-round selection from Santa Barbara High. Moniak and Gowdy are both UCLA commits.

“I hope so. I think so,” Klentak said when he spoke about the chances of signing both players. “That’s a big factor for us, taking players who we like that we’re pretty confident are going to sign.”

Moniak is 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds and hits from the left side. He hit .476 with a .921 slugging percentage, seven homers, 12 triples, 46 RBIs and 40 runs scored as a senior this season. In four varsity seasons, he hit .390 with 105 RBIs and 105 runs scored.

“He’s going to impact the game on both sides—in the outfield and offensively,” Almaraz said. “He’s a perennial basestealer. He’s got what we feel is the best hitting ability in the country this year.

“In my eyes, he can play center field probably in the big leagues right now. His ability to hit the baseball is above everybody else in the country right now, and his defensive ability is about a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) as far as our grades are concerned.

“He was No. 1 on my list. He was the best player in the country.

“I believe one day he will hit anywhere between 15 and 22 home runs. I think you’ll have a Gold Glove center fielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team.”

Klentak made a trip to California to see Moniak.

“He’s a very good-looking kid,” Klentak said. “It’s important to note this is a middle-of-the-field player. The way baseball is today, that was a major factor for us. This is a kid who is athletic. He can really hit. He’s one of the top bats in the country and he’s a center fielder. That’s a pretty good combination.”

Moniak’s grandfather Bill Moniak played in the Red Sox system from 1958 to 1963 and was tutored by Ted Williams.

“My grandpop is my biggest fan,” Moniak said. “His hitting coach was Ted Williams for a while. That definitely influenced my game, my approach, how I hit and play baseball. That’s definitely what he’s passed down to me. So that’s been huge in my development as a baseball player.

“I take a lot of pride in hitting. It’s something I work on a lot. I definitely think that’s what stood out, as well as obviously my speed and my ability to play center field. I definitely think my hit tool was the main thing.”

Almaraz has presided over two Phillies drafts. He also selected a high school outfielder last year: Cornelius Randolph out of the Atlanta area. Randolph was rated as the top high school hitter in the 2015 draft.


• Double-A Reading outfielder Dylan Cozens was the Eastern League player of the month for May. In 30 games, the 22-year-old hit .289 with 10 doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs.

• The Phillies promoted righthander Ben Lively to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after he went 7-0, 1.87 in nine starts at Reading. He took the rotation spot of Mark Appel, who went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.

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