Phillies' top draft pick Mickey Moniak already benefitting from added strength

Phillies' top draft pick Mickey Moniak already benefitting from added strength

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mickey Moniak loves to hit and he does a lot of it.

The evidence is on his right hand.

It's a large callus just under his palm, where the knob of the bat sits when he swings.

Phillies minor-league spring training camp does not officially begin until Sunday, but Moniak has been on site for more than a week going through daily workouts with other early birds on the fields and in the batting cages at Carpenter Complex.

And before arriving in Clearwater, Moniak spent the winter working out with his old high school team and coaches in southern California. When Moniak wasn't hitting with them, he was hitting with fellow Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford, who lives about 90 minutes north. 

"I've been doing my thing in the offseason, hitting, throwing," Moniak said before his workout Wednesday morning. "I'm excited to get going."

Moniak, who turns 19 in May, wasn't just the Phillies' top pick in last year's draft. He was the top pick in the entire draft, the Phillies' "reward" for finishing with the worst record in the majors in 2015. He was the consensus top high school hitter in the draft and the Phillies paid him a $6.1 million signing bonus. He made a nice pro debut last summer, hitting .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team. He was shut down late in the season with some hip tightness. He saw doctors in Philadelphia and it turned out to be a simple growing pain. Hey, the kid is young.

That first pro season is always a learning experience for a player and Moniak learned he needed to get stronger.

He spent the fall and winter adding 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-2 frame. He was 170 pounds on draft day. Now he weighs 190.

His old coaches at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California noticed the added strength during his workouts this winter. The ball jumped off his bat with even more life than it did in the past. And Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles as a senior last year.

"I take BP at my high school in the offseason and they noticed," Moniak said. "And back here, the coaches are definitely noticing. And I pick it up, too.  The ball just flies a little different. So I'm really excited to see how that translates into games."

A lefty-hitting centerfielder, Moniak projects to open the season at Single A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. Several other members of the Phils' prospect-rich GCL team that went 41-17 last summer could also be on that club.

"The first goal is to stay healthy all year," Moniak said. "I'm a big winning guy. I don't really like to put personal stats on things. I just like to win. If I go 3 for 3 and lose or 0 for 3 and win, I'm fine with the 0 for 3 and win.

"Winning comes first. But usually, when the winning happens, all the personal stuff comes with it."

Moniak is fully aware of his significance in the Philadelphia sporting culture. He said he follows Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons, top draft picks of the Eagles and Sixers, respectively, on social media.

"We kind of came to Philadelphia at the same time and hopefully we're going to be the ones to grow old in Philadelphia and hopefully bring championships to Philadelphia, a winning tradition," he said. "I follow both of them just to see how they're doing and what they're doing."

Moniak's journey to the top level of his game won't happen as quickly as it does in others -- that's just the way baseball is -- but he projects to be a good one.

And he's clearly willing to put in the work.

The evidence is on his right palm.

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With a week to go before they leave Florida, the Phillies made several roster moves on Friday morning.

Outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who spent all of last season in the majors, was optioned to the minor leagues.

Pitcher Jake Thompson, who made 10 starts in the majors for the Phillies last season, was also optioned to the minors. He is expected to open the season in the starting rotation at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Goeddel, 24, joined the Phillies organization in December 2015 after being selected in the Rule 5 draft. He had originally been a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

Players selected in the Rule 5 draft must spend an entire season in the majors or be exposed to waivers and offered back to their original club. The Phillies kept Goeddel all of last season, fully securing his rights, but he received only 213 at-bats and hit just .192 with four homers and 16 RBIs.

The news on Goeddel was not completely surprising. The wintertime additions of outfielders Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders had made Goeddel a long shot to make the team.

"I knew going into camp I was going to have to earn my spot," he said. "There's a lot of guys in here that have been playing well. Whatever happened happened."

Goeddel needs to recoup some at-bats in the minor leagues. The question is: where? The Phillies have three top outfield prospects -- Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens -- who will require regular playing time at Triple A. It's possible that Goeddel could open the season at Double A.

Team officials discussed that possibility with him.

"They want me to get more at-bats," Goeddel said. "That's the main thing. Only getting 200 in your age-23 season is not enough.

"They said there's a chance I'm at Reading. I'm not too happy about that but you can't control it. That's where their most openings are and most consistent playing time.

"I want to play every day. It was tough last year playing sparingly. Getting at-bats is going to be great. Obviously, I wish it was up here. But at the end of the day, you can't control it."

Goeddel is still on the 40-man roster and as long as he stays on it can come back to the majors quite easily if a need arises.

"They said that," Goeddel said. "Last year (pitcher Alec) Asher started at Double A and was called up. They said that in there. They just want me to get at-bats. That was their main thing."

Thompson could be one of the first to return to the majors if a need arises in the starting rotation.

The 23-year-old right-hander was one of five prospects that the Phillies acquired from Texas for Cole Hamels in July 2015. He went 11-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts at Triple A last season and 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA with the big club.

The Phils also reassigned pitcher Dalier Hinojosa, catcher Logan Moore and infielder Hector Gomez to minor-league camp.

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.