The Phillies have made it official, taking high school outfielder Mickey Moniak with the first overall selection of the 2016 draft. That makes him the first draft choice of GM Matt Klentak.
Philadelphia had been connected with several other players in recent months, including southpaws Jason Groome and A.J. Puk. But the rebuilding organization ended up going with the youngster out of Carlsbad, California, as had seemed increasingly likely in recent weeks. He is currently committed to play at UCLA.
Moniak doesn’t wow with off-the-charts physical prowess, but ESPN.com’s Keith Law says he “appears to have the best hit tool in the high school class.” Baseball America and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis join Law in rating Moniak the fifth-best overall talent in the draft.
While some question whether he’ll ever develop significant power to match his 6’2 frame, the evaluators agree that Moniak ought to be capable of manning center field in the long run, with his good wheels aiding him both in the field and on the basepaths. The 18-year-old draws universal praise for his instincts on the field as well as his work ethic.
It seems likely that the Phils are angling to preserve some of their spending power with the choice. That’s not to say that Moniak isn’t a top talent — by all accounts he is. Rather, somewhat like the Astros did in going with Carlos Correa over Byron Buxton back in 2012, the idea would be to take a more affordable player with hopes of adding yet more talent later in the draft. (Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, Brett Phillips, and Preston Tucker were among the other early-round choices that year by Houston.)
Philadelphia has $9.015MM to put towards signing Moniak, but it can allocate any savings to other selections. The club’s total pool adds up to just over $13.4MM, ranking second to the Reds — who just top their National League foes thanks to landing the first overall competitive balance Round A selection.