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 have 3 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100

Phillies have 3 prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100

The continues to look bright for the Phillies.

MLB Pipeline on Saturday released its Top 100 Prospects for 2017 and the Phillies were well represented with three prospects on the list.

Leading the way was shortstop J.P. Crawford, who was ranked as the No. 7 prospect in all of baseball. He was joined by 2016 No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. The 18-year-old outfielder came in at No. 19. Catcher Jorge Alfaro, part of the package the Phillies received from Texas for Cole Hamels, was ranked No. 72.

Crawford was the 16th overall pick by the Phils in 2013. He started last season at Double A before he was promoted to Lehigh Valley. There were certainly some growing pains going to Triple A at the age of 21, as he only hit .244 in 335 at-bats. But Crawford has made a name for himself for his grasp of the strike zone. The California native walked 72 times while only striking out 80 times combined at both levels.

Moniak was in the Gulf Coast League for 46 games after he was drafted in June. He hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage in 194 plate appearances. It's unknown if Moniak will start 2017 back in the GCL or if he will be bumped up to Single A Lakewood.

Alfaro got a taste of the big leagues as a September call up last season. The Colombian catcher only managed two hits in 16 at-bats, but enjoyed success plenty of sucess with Reading in 2016. The 23-year-old hit .285 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 97 games at Double A last season.

High school friend gets Mickey Moniak's signature tattooed on butt

High school friend gets Mickey Moniak's signature tattooed on butt

Ethan Abrams, you're a man of your word.

As a high school freshman, Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak made a bet with his friend long before the Phillies selected him first overall last June. The bet was that if Moniak is selected within the first 10 picks of his draft, Abrams would get Moniak's signature tattooed on his rear.

And here you go:

"I thought it needed to be more than just a signature so this way it looks like he signed a ball," Abrams told CSNPhilly.com. "Also, I can play it off for other reasons why I would get a baseball tattoo on my ass. It hurt but not worse than I was expecting. I think it turned out as well as an ass tattoo can turn out."

Pitchers and catchers report in 35 days.