Can Mickey Moniak make the Phillies’ Opening Day roster?
Forget all expectations. There is no longer strict time tables or digging in deep at signs of “incremental progress”. This Spring, the conversation surrounding Mickey Moniak is clearly different. Entering Spring Training, the 22 year old Moniak was considered a long-shot to make the Phillies’ Opening Day roster. The 2016 first overall pick entered a crowded centerfield competition on the outside looking in. As I state in every single one of my posts about the Phillies. Rule number one of Spring Training is to not make assumptions based on a few weeks of baseball down in Clearwater, Florida. However, Moniak deserves a closer look.
Moniak tripled in Tuesday’s Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida. Entering today’s game, he is 5-for-9 with one double, one triple, two home runs, two RBIs, two strikeouts, and a 2.111 OPS in eight appearances. Girardi added that Moniak has led the team in barrels in live batting practice at the Carpenter Complex. The highlight reel this Spring starts and ends with Moniak, who homered twice in a 15-0 route of the New York Yankees last week.
When the Phillies drafted Moniak in 2016, he weighed as much as a wet paper towel. Moniak was only 168 pounds on draft day. Five years later he entered the Phillies 2021 camp weighing 208 pounds. Adam Haseley is now on the injury list to start the 2021 season and the Phillies still have decisions to make in centerfield and who will make the 26-man Opening Day roster.
Odubel Herrera is currently the favorite. Scott Kingery, still on a very expensive contract and with his ability to play both the infield and outfield, will surely land on the Opening Day roster as well. This leaves Roman Quinn, and veteran outfielder Matt Joyce. Brad Miller could technically be penciled in as an outfielder too. Like Kingery, Miller will serve as a utility man for the Phillies this season.
The competition for the Opening Day roster in the outfield now can be narrowed down to Roman Quinn, Matt Joyce, and Mickey Moniak to claim the final two outfield spots. Moniak is clearly a dark horse candidate and given the fact that he’s still only 22 years old, the Phillies organization might value Mickey playing every day at Triple-A rather than taking a bench position on the big league roster.
All things considered, Mickey Moniak will likely start in Triple-A which is perfectly fine given his age and the clear progression he has taken since being drafted. Last year, Moniak batted .353 with two doubles, one triple, two RBIs, five walks, and three strikeouts in Spring Training. In the complete mess of the 2020 MLB season, Moniak was called up in September and failed to impress. He finished the year 3-for-14 with four walks and six strikeouts in limited appearances.
Moniak now has five years experience at the age of 22. He’s participated in three big-league camps and has already seen a small sample size of the major league level. His time will come. We will certainly see Moniak in a Phillies uniform this season however I’m not sold on it happening April 1st, though maybe it should.
Scott Kingery had a terrible year last year and has been everything but impressive this Spring, after starting Grapefruit League play with a home run. In 14 at-bats this Spring, Kingery has two hits, one home run, and two runs scored. He’s batting just .143 with a .200 OBP and a .557 OPS. Roman Quinn, who started 28 of 60 games for the Phillies in centerfield last season, is slashing .417/.462/.962 this Spring with five hits, a stolen base, and two runs scored in 12 at-bats.
As I mentioned before, Kingery has a contract and a “utility” skillset that will likely land him on the Opening Day roster. Quinn has played well this Spring but ultimately has failed to turn heads. Matt Joyce, who’s fighting for a bench spot this Spring, is slashing .500/.615/1.415 with five hits, one home run, two RBI, and one run scored in 10 at-bats. The 36-year old has performed well and can provide the Phillies with some veteran leadership this season.
Personally, I would much rather gamble on someone like Mickey Moniak rather than a veteran journeyman. With veteran Andrew McCutchen in left field and the uncertainty surrounding the centerfield position, Moniak could see a lot of playing time with the Phillies this year. Realistically, Moniak getting everyday at-bats at the Triple-A level makes the most sense. The 22 year-old is still a dark horse candidate that the Phillies will likely send to Triple-A come April to keep Moniak on the field as much as possible.
Mandatory Credit: The Athletic