The Philadelphia Phillies Fall 2016 top prospect countdown is now into the most elite of this greatly improved organization’s young performers.
In 2015, the Phils’ rebuilding program underwent perhaps its most important development. Team ownership woke to the necessity of changing those making the decisions and talent evaluations.
Andy MacPhail was brought on board. He would quickly rise to his current position of president of baseball operations. MacPhail then hired Matt Klentak as his general manager.
The pair was further supported by a change in ownership control to John Middleton. This effectively began during 2015 as well. But it was made formal in a vote by the MLB owners just in the last couple of weeks.
That controlling group had their first real opportunity to begin putting their stamp on the future of the organization through the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
The Phillies owned the top overall selection in that draft process for the first time since selecting Pat Burrell all the way back in 1999. This would be a vital pick as the rebuilding program moved forward.
It is far too early to know exactly how it will turn out. So much can still happen in the way of injuries and other developmental issues. But it appears that they may have hit a home run with the selection.
MONIAK PICKED FIRST OVERALL
With that first pick the Philadelphia Phillies chose Mickey Moniak, a California outfielder. Moniak is now ranked here as the club’s #3 overall prospect.
McKenzie Matthew Moniak was born in Encinitas, California on May 13, 1998 with a baseball pedigree.
Mickey’s grandfather, Bill Moniak, was a Boston Red Sox prospect in the late 1950s who tutored under the legendary Ted Williams. His father, Matt Moniak, played college ball at San Diego State.
Raised in the game, the now 6’2″, 185-pound, lefty-hitting, righty-fielding Moniak plays with an air of confidence and swagger, but not cockiness.
“Growing up, my parents instilled in me that the worst thing you can be is cocky,”Moniak said in a fine pre-draft piece by Hudson Belinsky for Baseball America. “If you’re that good, you don’t need to talk about yourself.”
Moniak has always been “that good.” In Japan during the fall of 2015, he helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup.
As a high school senior, he hit .476 with a .540 on-base percentage while slashing 50 hits, scoring 40 runs, and knocking in 46 over 29 games.
MONIAK SCOUTING REPORTS
His high school coach, Justin Machado, provided this scouting commentary per USA Today High School Sports in the run-up to the 2016 Draft.
“He will be a leadoff guy and a center fielder wherever he goes. His first step as a defender is amazing. He has a nose for the ball and can read swings pretty well.”
The Phillies were able to sign Moniak within two weeks of the draft. His $6.1 million bonus was nearly $3 million below slot value for the pick. This allowed the club the money it needed to then sign their second rounder. That player, pitcher Kevin Gowdy, now ranks #9 on the Phillies Fall 2016 top prospects list.
On making the selection, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz heaped praise on the youngster. “I believe one day he will hit anywhere between 15 and 22 home runs,” Almaraz said per Philly.com’s Matt Gelb. “I think you’ll have a Gold Glove centerfielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team.”
In the same post-draft piece, general manager Matt Klentak commented as follows:
“It’s important to note this is a middle-of-the-field player…This is a kid who is athletic. He can really hit. One of the top bats in the country and he’s a center fielder. That’s a pretty good combination.”
MONIAK BEGINS HIS PRO CAREER
Assigned to the Phillies’ entry in the Gulf Coast League this past summer, Moniak hit for a .284/.340/.479 slash line. He produced 50 hits and 11 walks over 194 plate appearances in 46 games, with 11 doubles, four triples, 27 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
Defensively, Moniak played 30 games out in center field, 29 of them starts. He also appeared twice in left field. In 255.2 innings and over 74 total chances he committed just one error and registered three assists.
In September, Baseball America ranked him at the top of their Gulf Coast League prospects list. Ben Badler provided the following commentary:
Moniak has a short, fluid swing with excellent ability to manipulate the barrel, showing he can hit good fastballs and offspeed pitches. He has good strike-zone judgment and a sound hitting approach, going with where the ball is pitched and using the whole field. He’s skinny, so his power is mostly to the gaps at this point, but he has the room to fill out and grow into at least 10-15 home runs. An above-average runner, Moniak is a smooth defender with good instincts and a quick first step in center field.
MONIAK’S FUTURE AND TIMELINE
With as much athleticism and confidence as any player to come out of the draft over the last few years, Moniak has all the fundamentals and all the tools to develop into a star.
You should expect that Moniak will begin the 2017 season with the short-season Williamsport CrossCutters, though he could be pushed to start with Low-A Lakewood.
His 2018 should find Moniak between Lakewood and High-A Clearwater. Then he would advance to AA Reading by the 2019 season. Assuming he stays healthy and continues to produce, he should reach AAA Lehigh Valley no later than the 2020 season.
With a normal developmental path, we would see him push his way to Citizens Bank Park by around the 2020-21 seasons. If he turns out to be a truly special player who matures quickly, it could be on the early end of that timeline.