Threshers Spotlight: Mickey Moniak

With Family Backing, Moniak Embracing the Challenge

in a game between the Clearwater Threshers and Dunedin Jays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater Florida. (Nathan Ray)

By Kirsten Karbach / Clearwater Threshers | July 2, 2018 12:28 PM

As the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Mickey Moniak's career is constantly under the microscope.

In his first full season in 2017, Moniak hit .270 in the first half as a member of the Lakewood Blue Claws, before batting .201 in the second half. The Phillies elected to push him, bumping the outfielder up to the Florida State League to open this season.

Moniak said he welcomes the challenge.

"I think in my eyes, I started off slow, but just kind of battling through it (was a positive).

"I've been working on a lot of little things," Moniak said. "Plate discipline, as well as getting into my legs, just trying to put all those things together at the plate is something that I've been trying to work on, and I definitely think I've gotten better compared to when I first got here."

The numbers show he has.

Moniak hit .213 in the opening month, but in 25 games in May batted .277 with 12 RBIs in 25 games. In his final six games of the month, Moniak cracked five extra-base hits, then launched his first home run of the season on June 3.

The Phillies drafted Moniak first overall out of La Costa Canyon High School (CA) on June 9, 2016, Philadelphia's first No. 1 overall pick since Pat Burrell in 1998.

The young outfielder had gained notoriety as a prospect after playing for Team USA in the COPABE AA 15U Pan American Championship in 2013, and again in the WBSC 18U World Cup in 2015. That 18U team also featured fellow Phillies draftees Cole Stobbe and Kevin Gowdy.

With the national team, Moniak also played alongside a number of notable current prospects and recent draft picks, including first round picks Blake Rutherford, Forrest Whitley, and Ian Anderson, whom the Threshers have faced twice this year with the Florida Fire Frogs. Moniak is 1-for-3 with an RBI against him.

"It's awesome, I mean I faced him through the whole tryout process for team USA so I kind of got used to facing him a lot," Moniak said of Anderson. "He's obviously really good, so it's always a friendly competition. He's one of my good friends off the field, but it's always fun facing your friends."

Moniak, who hails from Encinitas, California, comes from a baseball family. His father, Matt, played collegiately at San Diego State, while his grandfather Bill played in the Boston Red Sox system from 1958-1963, reaching as high as Triple-A.

"He went through the minor leagues probably in a tougher time than we have in the minor leagues. We have so many more resources, nutrition, buses and all that," Moniak said. "He was going through it when it was a lot tougher, so any stories or advice he gives me about that kind of stuff is huge."

During this time, Moniak's grandfather had the opportunity to receive instruction from Hall of Famer Ted Williams, lessons that Bill Moniak continues to pass along to his grandson.

"Growing up, he always taught me about approach, what Ted Williams taught him," Moniak said. "Just basically trying to get your pitch. 0-0 count, he throws a fastball on the black, let him have it. 0-1, the same thing, he throws a good pitch, let him have it. But 0-2, you've just got to go up there, look to put the ball in play, and make things happen."

Moniak maintains a close relationship and speaks daily with his parents on the west coast, and with perhaps his biggest fan, his grandfather.

"Almost every day, he's calling," Moniak said. "My dad always says he's my biggest fan, just because he's the one that when anything happens, he's sending out a chain email to anybody and everybody just bragging. But I love him, he's the best."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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