The Philadelphia Phillies seem to have failed mightily by selecting outfielder Mickey Moniak with the first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Do you know what the worst thing about 2015 Philadelphia Phillies was? It wasn’t the fact that their clueless manager flat-out quit in the middle of the year. And it wasn’t seeing remnants of the 2008 World Series team either traded away (Cole Hamels) or struggle along well past their prime (Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz). No, it was the fact that with their well-deserved first overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Phillies chose Mickey Moniak, an 18-year old outfielder who was supposed to help the team several years down the road when they were ready to compete.
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Well, here we are four seasons later, and he’s never so much as sniffed being part of the major league roster yet. Yes, he’s still only 22, but elite prospects (like he was supposed to be) need to show something to give a team some hope. Thus far, it’s been middling production for Moniak, who was last seen at AA Reading in 2019 having an uneven season. There was some decent progress, but he still ended up hitting .252 over 119 games. Then he fared poorly in the Arizona Fall League. Nobody can be confident about how that will translate to the majors if and when he ever gets the chance.
The only saving grace here is that the 2016 draft, though the story is far from written, looks like a relatively weak one overall at this point. The #2 pick, Nick Senzel, debuted in 2019 for the Reds and was merely adequate. The Braves took pitcher Ian Anderson third overall, and he remains a hot prospect, but he’s yet to throw a pitch in the majors.
You basically have to get all the way down to Gavin Lux at #20 to find a player who still has fresh hype and hasn’t earned the “taking too long to develop” label or seen some serious shine wear off his initial promise because of injuries or other reasons. Somebody from that draft will eventually develop into a star player, but at least the Phils won’t be alone with a dud on their hands, although having such a high pick and whiffing really hurts.
Alas, it’s not an isolated incident.
The last truly terrible Phillies team prior to 2015 was the 2000 edition, which I’ve been having a lot of fun with recently as I chronicle their 20th anniversary. They didn’t do themselves any favors with their top pick either, taking Gavin Floyd fourth overall in the following year’s draft (though they did unearth Ryan Howard later on).
But the 2000 Phils seem downright quaint to the 2015 squad, which had no redeeming value whatsoever aside from a promising debut by Aaron Nola. Other than that, the whole 2015 fiasco should be stricken from the record, with the selection of Moniak as the final insult on top of it all. Blowing a top pick isn’t as harmful in baseball as it is in the NFL or NBA (ahem, 76ers), but it’s still an opportunity wasted.
The jury is still out on the rest of the selections that the Phillies made in 2016, but nobody is really jumping off the page at this time as potentially salvaging that draft for the team. Moniak could have made all the difference and lent 2015 a sense of purpose for being such a miserable experience, but time is already running short. Maybe he becomes an MLB-caliber player yet. And perhaps it’s for some other organization. But it’s almost a stone-cold lock that he won’t have #1 pick impact in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. Sounds like a bust to me.