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Mailbag #11: How Good Could Moniak Be?

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It's theoretically possible that he could be as good as Trout and Machado combined. Maybe!

Miguel Nunez could factor into the 2017 bullpen
Miguel Nunez could factor into the 2017 bullpen
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The World Series is going on, and history could be made by two different teams. However, that naturally pales in comparison to talking about Phillies prospects.

Right to the Mailbag!

TGP's Own Dan Cormican: Is Mitch Walding any better a better player than he was prior to 2016 when he made a career out of driving me nuts?

For those unlike Dan and I who have a history with Mr. Mitchell Walding, here is some background. Walding was the Phillies' 5th-round pick in the 2011 draft. He was a two-sport athlete in high school who primarily played shortstop, he went out and hit in a collegiate, wood bat league after the draft and earned himself an $800,000 signing bonus, the second-largest in the Phillies draft class (behind Larry Greene Jr., but more than Roman Quinn). Walding has a pretty swing from the left side, flashes power potential, but really has never put that power into games. He walks at a decent rate (2014 in Lakewood - at 8.6% - is the only time he has ever had a walk rate under 10%). He also strikes out at prodigious rate, with his 2012 mark of 22.6% standing as his career low. Before this season, he had never hit above .237 at any level and had never posted an ISO over .135.

This season, he made some improvements to his swing that led to him pulling the ball more and showing more power. The end result was hitting .280/.372/.440 in Clearwater with his normal walk (12.5%) and strikeout (26.7%) rates. He was promoted to Reading, where his BABIP dropped 100 points, but otherwise everything else stayed consistent. At the time of this writing, he had played 9 games in the AFL and was hitting .286/.394/.429 with a strikeout rate of 36.4% while playing third and first base.

Walding is a better player now, but I am not sure he is a Major League player yet. His glove at third base is very good. He is hitting for more power, though not at a rate that is overwhelming. The raw strength is there if he can make more contact. The problem is he is already 24, and now has 5 full years of professional baseball behind him. So, yes, 2016 Mitch Walding is better than 2015 Mitch Walding, but he might not be Future Major Leaguer Mitch Walding.

My gut says the realistic outcome for Moniak is something like .280, 10-15 home runs, 25 or so stolen bases, solid walks, and great outfield defense. I did a quick play index search for players with that criteria since 2008 (I used 12 home runs as my threshold). It turns out the closest comp for me is actually on the Phillies in the 2016 version of Odubel Herrera. This year, Herrera hit .286, 15 HRs, and 25 stolen bases; he did have a .361 on base percentage, which may be above what our version of Moniak in this scenario does. Moniak's glove is probably better than Herrera, so that still puts him as a close to 4-win player.

As for best case scenario, that means Monaik's hit tool grows into some usable power and he hits 20-plus home runs a year. And because the hit tool has grown, he probably hits over .300 and likely steals at least 30 bases. I put those values into the play index back to 2000 and here are the names: Mike Trout (2016), Matt Kemp (2011), Jacoby Ellsbury (2011), A.J. Pollock (2015) and Carlos Beltran (2001 and 2003).

In this, I have found the peak comp: It is A.J. Pollock in 2014 and 2015. Over that time, Pollock was worth over 8 wins per 162 games. That may not be a Mike Trout level superstar, but that is a superstar you can build a team around.

He is not going anywhere. The Cubs love Schwarber and they believe in him more than any team in baseball. I don't know what the Phillies have that could even get the conversation past "hello." In general, teams have little motivation to move good young players, and the cost almost always more painful than you want to think about.

The Phillies need impact talent. They don't need a volume of talent, because they already have that coming. Despite end results that were not stellar, it is important to remember this was Velasquez's first year as a full-time starter at a level above A-ball. In that capacity, he showed the ability to be a front-end starter if he can continue to grow as a pitcher. That does not make him untouchable, but in reality you need to get back a major piece in a position of need - which means a hitter for this club - and based on team needs, probably a big outfield bat. The only reason you settle for less is if you don't believe in Velasquez and think he is headed for a crash.

In other words, if you aren't getting a young stud hitter back, it is not a deal you make.

This is a really difficult exercise because of limiting it to org arms. It really leads to a lot of projection of a volatile type of player, but let's try this anyway.

The locks in this exercise are Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos. Given the lack of lefty options it is hard to not have Joely Rodriguez on the list given how he looked in the Majors. This leaves us with a bunch of players in different groups:

In the Majors: Severino Gonzalez, Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Jeanmar Gomez, Adam Morgan, Michael Mariot, Alec Asher
MiLB RPs: Miguel Nunez, Victor Arano, Jimmy Cordero, Hoby Milner, Jessen Therrien, Tom Windle, Alexis Rivero
MiLB SPs: Nick Pivetta, Mark Appel, Ricardo Pinto, Elniery Garcia, Ben Lively

If you just threw up a bit in your mouth reading the first group of names, I don't blame you. There are interesting names later, but the bar certainty is low. Here is the bullpen I have built:

Neris, Ramos, Rodriguez, Cordero, Arano, Pinto, Lively

We already discussed the first three. The next two have the most electric stuff among those on our list, the problem has been health for Cordero the past year, and for Arano his track record is short and his stuff is really good, but not lights out like Cordero.

I then needed to fill out the rest of the bullpen with starting pitchers. I like Pivetta's upside as a starter too much, and I just don't see them giving up on him as a starter yet. I could see Appel here, but there is too much uncertainty around him. On Lively, I think he is the most likely candidate to just get shoved into the role to see if he has a Major League future, because his stuff just does not stand up to his peers. Pinto's lack of breaking ball development makes him the most likely to get moved to the bullpen if needed. His fastball-changeup combination could make him very good there.