|Mickey Moniak, image- Jay Floyd|
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Mickey Moniak continues to be aware that the expectations of him are high, even three years after the Phillies made him the first overall selection in the MLB amateur draft. Now, in the Double-A Eastern League, he's starting to show some considerable progress and may be proving some haters wrong.
Following a difficult April that saw the lefty batting outfielder post a .195 average with two home runs and 11 RBI in 19 games, Moniak has come on strong, tallying a .295 batting average with two homers and 27 RBI through his next 55 games.
Part of the recent success may be attributed to the spot where Moniak starts his hands in the batters box.
"You go back to Lakewood and the GCL year and in high school, I kept my hands low. You know, it worked in GCL and worked to an extent in the beginning at Lakewood," Moniak explained following a recent road series at Trenton. "I think just, gradually, since then (they've) kind of just creeped up and up.
"For me, it's never so much, 'Your hands need to be here, so they can do this,' or something like that. It's whatever feels comfortable when I'm in the box and just little things to tweak when you're in (batting practice) is what I'm looking to do."
After debuting in 2016 in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, Moniak would tout a .284 batting average along with a homer and 28 RBI in 46 games.
With Class A Lakewood in 2017 he notched a .236 average with five homers and 44 RBI in 123 contests overall. That year, he saw his production tail off after the All-Star break, going from a .270/.328/.392 triple slash line in the first half to a .201/.237/.288 slash line in the second half.
Last year, with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Moniak batted .270 with five home runs and 55 RBI in 114 games. He took some time to get going in 2018, collecting a .592 OPS in the first half and a .774 mark in the second half.
With consistency a key focus for the talented prospect, he's shown improvements according to his coaches, who see tons of progress and a hitter with a ceiling worthy of the "1:1" spot in the draft.
For his offensive improvements, Moniak would prefer to credit those around him in the Phillies developmental ranks with the strides he has taken of late.
"The coaching staff, the front office, the coordinators, you name it...they've always been supportive, they've always been there to kind of help me, whether I was struggling or to point out what I was doing bad or what I was doing good. They've definitely been a huge part of my progress the past few years." Moniak said.
A primary critique of the talented California native is that he doesn't draw enough walks. The Reading coaching staff feels as though the 21-year-old regularly has quality at bats, despite any lack of free passes.
Of late, though, Moniak has turned things around in that regard. He enters action on Sunday having increased his walk rate, recording seven walks in his past nine games after having walked just 16 times in his first 65 contests this season. The recent success in this part of the game has seen Moniak's season on-base percentage jump 22 points.
In his third full season in the minors, the six-foot-two 185-pounder knows what fans all around the sport ultimately expect of him. He's working to achieve the greatness that those people would hope to see, even if there are people along that path that would prefer to address that process with hostility from the stands or through social networking mediums.
Moniak, who regularly shines with the glove and puts his outstanding defense on display at all three outfield positions, admits that in his first year as a professional player he would invest time in considering and reading the negative buzz online surrounding his efforts or his future. While there's unfavorable feedback that can come in an endless fashion, Moniak has seen the benefits in seeking out more preferable and positive insight. He stays in house for feedback that assists with and reinforces his development.
"One thing I've always said about that is the people that really matter, the people that are going to make or break my career are with the Phillies and in the front office and the coaches. The fact that they see what I'm seeing and the fact that they share high praise is very exciting," Moniak stated.
Exciting is the right word for not only how Moniak feels about the support of the Phillies' personnel, but also precisely applies toward the type of player that Moniak is becoming as he moves toward the pinnacle of the sport.
Bonus quotes...Moniak also spoke on the rivalry within the Eastern League's Eastern division with the Yankees affiliate, Trenton-
"Going into it, they edged us out in the first half...obviously, they're a great team and they proved that in this series, beating us two out of three. It's going to be fun to play them further down the road. I wish we got more of a chance to play them in the second half to kind of settle (the division standings). But, I'm excited for the series to come and they're obviously a great team and it's going to be a dog fight. The funny thing is we play the Yankees from the GCL all the way throughout the minors leagues. So we've gotten to know a lot of their players and we play each other numerous times and it's always fun."