Insider Trading: Mickey Moniak is primed to break out

Mickey Moniak, CF

Age: 20 (5/13/98)

2017 - 6/30/2018: .240/.277/.330, 6 HR, 45 XBH, .090 ISO, 74 wRC+, 4.4% BB, 23.1% K, 697 AB

7/1/-9/1/2018: .297/.347/.470, 3 HR, 24 XBH, .173 ISO, 131 wRC+, 7.6% BB, 16% K, 202 AB

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It’s not how you start but how you finish. Mickey Moniak is a polarizing prospect. In fact, he may be the most polarizing prospect in the minor leagues. For a high school hitter taken 1.1, the amount of fans that have bailed from the bandwagon is staggering. For starters, regardless of whether or not he was a bargain under-slot sign, he was still a consensus top 5 player going into the 2016 Draft. Being the 1.1 though, that brings with it a microscope that other 1st rounders don’t experience. To Moniak’s credit, you’ll never hear him make the excuse of added pressure as a reason for his struggles.

After being completely over-matched in 2017 in Low A, the Phillies pushed him to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to start 2018. In both leagues, Moniak was 2.5 years younger than the league average. While Vladdy, Acuna, and Tatis have made pro-ball look easy as teenagers, it’s important to remember that not all players grow and develop on the same timeline.

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Before July

Moniak looked like he was pressing. He was late on every fastball and expanded the zone against off-speed. He would open his hips early in attempt to catch up to premium velocity, dropping his back shoulder, zapping his bat speed. The results were weak pull side groundballs or pop-ups. He often lunged at pitches instead of trusting his hands. He was completely out of whack. During this time, Moniak continued to fill out and add strength while the Phillies continued to push him. Honestly, I thought Moniak in High A Clearwater was a mistake on the organization’s part. I had talked to scouts that said the Phillies had done his development a disservice by taking him 1.1. What Moniak really needed was to be in college, getting stronger and playing against age-appropriate competition. Heh, what do we know though? He really looked that lost. There was no standout tool. No real hope for one at this point.

After July

The biggest thing I noticed in July and August was how much stronger Moniak looked. I was impressed with how much his body had changed over the first 3 months of the season. Additionally, Moniak finally looked relaxed. His swing was short and to the ball with good balance. Moniak was able to get on plane with the ball and showed an improved and consistent attack angle. The bat speed that we heard about as an amatuer had returned. The result was a substantial increase in the percentage of flyballs he hit. At one point in August, over a 30 day period Moniak peaked at 47.3% FB rate. In addition to hitting more balls in the air, Moniak was driving the ball with authority. While making these adjustments, Moniak saw an increase in BB rate and decrease in K rate. He was staying on the ball a lot longer and doing most of his damage to the opposite field.

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When he was really struggling, he was averaging ~260-270 ft per flyball. After July, he was consistently over 290 ft. Increasing attack angle coupled with added strength resulted in a .173 ISO the final 2 months, flashing a 30 game rolling average of a .226 ISO in August.

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2019 and Beyond

Moniak has continued to fill out, entering spring at a solid 6’3” and 205 pounds. He looks like a man and there is still more in the tank without sacrificing his athleticism. He should start this season at AA Reading, a hitter’s haven. Couple that with the Phillies’ hiring of Jason Ochart from Driveline and Moniak enters 2019 with a real shot to enter the Top 50 prospects in baseball.