Meet Moniak: Phillies introduce No. 1 pick

Meet Moniak: Phillies introduce No. 1 pick

PHILADELPHIA -- Mickey Moniak has come a long way since tee-ball.

On June 9, the Phillies made Moniak the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft and Tuesday, they introduced Moniak at Citizens Bank Park.

2016 Draft signing and bonus tracker

In between, Moniak has come to appreciate Ted Williams, his own genealogy and pressure. The newest Phillie will be under heaps of it, just as each of the previous 51 top picks have. 

Moniak, who turned 18 last month, will report to the Phillies' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Clearwater when its season begins Friday. He hopes to see his friends, Phillies' second- and third-rounders Kevin Gowdy and Cole Stobbe, there soon.

"There are some I's to dot and T's to cross with several of the others," general manager Matt Klentak said. "I think it's reasonable to expect something else later this week."

In the GCL, the Phillies will begin to uncover whether they've hit a boom -- think Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. -- or bust. It is what Moniak has done between tee-ball and Draft day that gives the Phillies confidence in the former, though Moniak's journey began long before he played shortstop as a youngster.

Bill Moniak grew up in a small Pennsylvania town of about 1,500 people. "They said, 'How'd they find you?' Well," Bill said, "I said there's a lot of scouts running around there, oh yeah. Yeah, right."

But the eldest of three Moniak baseball men made it from Youngsville to Boston. Although he never played in a Major League game, Bill has been able to pass on hitting advice from Williams onto his son, Mike, and Mike's son, Mickey. Williams was the Red Sox's hitting coach during the years Bill was with the organization.

"I learned it from a young age," Mickey said. "My grandpa would always tell stories of the Minor Leagues and Ted Williams and all this stuff. … After hearing it hundreds of times, I think I picked it up at some point. There's been a lot of approach and a lot of baseball talked with my grandpa over the past 18 years."

It's tough for Bill not to see a little bit of Ted in Mickey. If there's one aspect of his game more raved about than his glove, it's Moniak's hit tool. A scout once saw Moniak swing and miss once over a 13-game stretch.

Moniak likens himself to Jacoby Ellsbury. Others compare him to Christian Yelich, and Moniak understands. Of today's players, Moniak aspires to be like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. But in doing so, he applies Williams' advice of yesteryear.

"One of the main things I've take from [Bill's] Ted Williams talks is it's about approach," Moniak said. The hitter owns the pitcher until two strikes. "0-0, he makes a good pitch, outside corner -- let him have it. 0-1, makes another good pitch, so what?"

But with two strikes, it's about not letting the pitcher win.

"You get on the plate and choke up a little bit," Moniak continued. "You've gotta think in your head, the pitcher's not gonna beat you. You're gonna put the ball in play and make the defense work. Do every little thing to get on base and help the team win."

Moniak doesn't believe he was born with any more baseball IQ than his peers without baseball in their genes. His father, Mike, also played at San Diego State, but was more intent on surfing San Diego's beaches, Bill says, than playing baseball professionally.

Mickey, however, is all baseball. Mike tried to get him to play basketball, just to give him a break from the diamond. But Mickey always said no. Despite athleticism that leads to lauding of his defensive talents in center field, Moniak was a single-sport athlete at Costa Canyon High. He became the fourth freshman since the school opened in 1996 to make the varsity baseball team as a freshman.

It was then, his freshman year, that Moniak began to see scouts in the crowd. And he played for Team USA's 15U team that summer.

"That's when I realized, 'All right, there's a possibility I could keep working at this and maybe I'll get somewhere with it.' I just kept working, kept trying to get better, and this is where it's ended up," Moniak said, unable to hold back a grin as he stood in the underbelly of Citizens Bank Park.

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.