You know the story by now. A team with the top pick in the draft, the chance to take a player that would ultimately be the face of the franchise should all things work out. A draft, at the time at least, devoid of a blue chip prospect as in years past. Both of these things conspired to not only fail the Phillies in their bid for a rebuild. They arguably set that rebuild back several years.
There is no point in rehashing what happened in that draft, but 2022 was the year the Phillies finally moved on from Mickey Moniak and the failure of that draft.
It was time for both player and team.
2022 stats: 50 PA, .130/.184/.152, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 38.0 K%, 0.0 BB%, -6wRC+, -0.6 bWAR
He had a good spring training. During his spring, he hit .378/.378/.973 with six home runs in 37 at bats. He looked fully ready to put his disappointing scouting reports and live looks and poor stat lines behind him, ready to seize the center field job that it looked like the team was ready to hand over to him....
...except Drew Rasmussen had other plans.
Facing the Rays in the last spring training game of the season, Moniak’s hand was broken on an errant pitch, cutting short his bid to make the roster and ultimately sinking his season. As the team tried to him back once he was healthy, he simply failed at the plate, necessitating a demotion and a trade.
He’s in Anaheim.
He’s no longer our concern. However, his departure was one of the turning points of the season. Let me explain.
Often times, general managers will hold on to a top prospect no matter how many times he fails to develop. To give up on the player is to acknowledge you were wrong, something the hubris of many a team executive simply will not allow. So even though Moniak had failed to develop into anything resembling a top prospect in the minors, he was given many chances to succeed, to show how smart the front office was. Matt Klentak had no reason not to give him a chance as the system was bereft of hitting prospects, but ultimately, his status in the minors meant the team had to make a decision. They could no longer wait to see what happened; they either had to play him or move on from him. Rather than move on outright, they put him on their 40-man roster and gave him a shot.
He failed in 2020 and in 2021 and in 2022.
There really is no other conclusion to draw other than he just isn’t that good of a baseball player. The holes in his game were, and remain, clear and eventually, the team tired of trying to force him into playing time, trading him to get an upgrade at the position in the form of Brandon Marsh (yes, I know it was a different trade, but it was effectively the same thing).
This was important as it showed the team meant business as far as making the playoffs. Rather than trotting out Odubel Herrera and Matt Vierling and Moniak all the time, the team moved on from the deadwood two of them represented and grabbed a clear upgrade in Marsh. They were finally serious about winning, dead money be damned. It was a refreshing change from the previous regime who was more focused on the luxury tax than the winning percentage of the team. It swept aside the final remnants of Klentak’s failed rebuild plan and put the team on a course to the World Series.
Was it Moniak’s fault that he failed here? That’s debatable. There were whispers of his lack of a desire to change his game, but if you had to listen to an organization that hadn’t shown they knew how to develop bats in a way to make them major leaguers, maybe you’d be a little hard headed as well.
Let’s not pretend he was good. He wasn’t. He had bad luck, yes, but after a while, it’s easy to see that a guy just isn’t that good of a hitter.