The Phillies “earned” the top pick in the 2016 draft, and used that selection to choose high school outfielder Mickey Moniak. Moniak slowly progressed through the Phillies’ system, making a cameo on the 2020 team, and earned an invite to major league camp in 2021 Spring Training.
You might think that his status as a #1 overall pick might earn him an opportunity to succeed with the major league team. You would be wrong.
.091/.167/.182, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, -0.3 bWAR
He showed a little bit of power development in the minor leagues, hitting 15 home runs and a .447 slugging percentage at Triple A. And he even hit his first ever major league home run during one of his brief stints in the majors.
Mickey Moniak 22 years old— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 21, 2021
became the youngest Phillies centerfielder to homer in 48 years
I’m writing this as someone who has never thought that highly of Moniak. I’m not a draft expert, and I know the 2016 draft has been referred to as “skim milk,” but using the top pick to take a high school outfielder who might develop power seemed like a bad plan. (As of right now, Ian Anderson was the answer we were looking for.)
While he has steadily progressed up the minor league ladder, Moniak shed his top prospect status along the way. Moniak is now talked about more as a potential fourth outfielder than an impact starter. Despite his reduced standing, you’d think the team would want to give their former top pick every chance to justify his selection. In 2021, that certainly wasn’t the case.
Moniak was in big league camp in Spring Training, but the team never really gave him much of an opportunity to win the unclaimed starting centerfield job, even though he arguably looked the best of all the candidates. That’s partly because according to Joe Girardi, the Phillies view him as more of a corner outfielder.
Joe Girardi was asked about the decision to go with Jankowski over Moniak. He cited Jankowski’s ability to play center field and how he’s swinging the bat. Moniak is 3-for-25 in Triple-A this season.— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) May 30, 2021
“We envision Mickey more as a corner outfielder than a center fielder.”
Perhaps Moniak is best suited for a corner job, but let’s keep in mind that Girardi thinks Roman Quinn’s poor route running is suitable for center.
To be fair, Moniak wasn’t impressive when he did get a chance to play, and it does seem like he could definitely use more minor league at bats. But considering how bad Phillies centerfielders were early in the season, I’m baffled that they never gave Moniak a chance.
Moniak is still young, but he’ll turn 24 in May, so he’s not THAT young anymore. At some point, he’ll need to convince the Phillies that he can be a viable major league player, or else they might start casting sideways glances at his 40-man roster spot.
As of right now, the Phillies’ outfield situation is unsettled. They’ll probably bring in at least one veteran outfielder, but there will be jobs to be won. Can Moniak earn one of those jobs? Or perhaps more importantly: Will he be given the chance to?
Final Grade: D
Since he was never given an actual chance to contribute to the Major League team, it’s tough to grade him on his performance there. It would have been nice if he forced the issue, but I don’t know how much he really could have done with 37 plate appearances.
The team very clearly wanted Moniak to spend more time in the minor leagues and develop. He did indeed spend time in the minors, but it’s tough to say that he developed into any more of a prospect than he was before the season began. He showed a little more power than in previous seasons, but his Triple A OPS of .746 was far from overwhelming.
With all that in mind, overall, I’d rate his season as a major disappointment, but not a total failure.