|The Phillies selected Mickey Moniak with the first pick in Thursday's draft.|
Meet Mickey Moniak, an outfielder from La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High School.
The 18-year-old stands 6-2 and weighs 180 pounds. He swings from the left side and throws right-handed. Offensively, he has been compared to former major leaguer Steve Finley and current Miami Marlin Christian Yelich.
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," said Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."
Moniak, who is committed to UCLA, hit .476 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 29 games this year and is considered a future center fielder. He graduates from high school on Friday. Baseball America ranked him as the fifth-best prospect in this draft, and described him as having a “magic-wand bat.”
"I think it's important to note that this is a middle of the field player," said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. "I think the way baseball is today, that was a major factor. This is a kid who is athletic. He can really hit."
Moniak's father, Matt, played college baseball at San Diego State. His grandfather, Bill, played five years in the Minor Leagues and received some hitting instruction from Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams.
"The main thing he taught me that Ted taught him was mostly about approach, what you're looking to do at the plate," Moniak said of his grandfather.
Perhaps ironically, Moniak considers Mickey Mantle, not Williams, to be his favorite baseball player.
"It is a huge honor," Moniak said. "First and foremost, you have to look at it like that. The main thing about baseball, and the main thing that I like to do when I play the game of baseball is that you can't put too much added pressure on yourself. Once you are in between the lines, the main thing is to go out and play the ballgame. That's your main focus. That's all you've got to focus on."
The one slight against Moniak has been his ability to hit for power. He didn't hit a homerun during his junior year, but worked on adding strength in the offseason and belted seven this season. He said he is committed to adding more weight to gain additional power.
"I believe one day he's going to hit anywhere between 15 and 22 home runs," Almaraz said. "I think you're going to have a center of the field Gold Glove center fielder who is going to hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team."
Moniak is the second No. 1 overall pick for the Phillies, who drafted Pat Burrell with the top selection out of Miami (Fla.) in 1998. He also is the sixth outfielder to be selected first overall since 1986. The previous five are Bryce Harper (2010), Delmon Young (2003), Josh Hamilton (1999), Darin Erstad (1995) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1987).
"Ultimately, we're investing in the human being and [Moniak] is wired how I like players," Almaraz added. "He's got an outstanding makeup and wants to succeed. He's a relentless worker and that's the type of player we want in the system."