Spring Training is underway, and the Phillies are in the process of finding there 2021 26-man roster. Much of the roster is already set, with most of the everyday lineup and rotation being carried over form last year.
The team was already facing a roster crunch they would have to deal with before the season. The injury to Adam Haseley just exacerbates the problem.
Haseley is out for four weeks with a ‘pretty significant’ groin strain. He was looking like the leader for the CF job, but now he will not be on the Opening Day roster. The injury makes it more likely that embattled CF Odubel Herrera makes the team out of camp, who currently isn’t on the 40-man roster. Having to add Herrera to the roster makes the impending roster crunch even tighter.
More than likely, the Phillies are going to have to clear two spots on the 40-man for relievers Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson. That’s three spots that they would have to clear from the jump. Coming off an offseason where the team added six Rule 5-eligible prospects to the roster, that is not ideal. After adding those three to the roster, the Phillies will still have a need for a 4th/5th outfielder type. Matt Joyce has looked impressive this spring, with many fans clamoring for him to make the team. However, unless the Phillies want to make a tough cut/trade of someone they just added to the roster, Joyce doesn’t have a spot.
Enter Mickey Moniak.
The No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Moniak has not developed like the Phillies dreamed he would. This Spring Training, though, Moniak looks like he could be turning a corner in his development. He came into camp looking much stronger than he has in previous seasons, and it’s translating to the field. On March 4th, Moniak went deep twice in a 15-0 win against the Yankees, one being against a lefthander.
Both homers came in two strike counts. For a player that has been knocked for his pitch recognition and selection, that is a good sign. Overall this spring, Moniak is 4-for-8 with a 1.875 OPS, including those two bombs. He seems to have a plan every time he steps to the plate, and so far, has executed those plans. He didn’t barrel a single ball up in his first 14 MLB at-bats last year, and has already barreled four this spring. Every ball he has hit this spring has been over 100 mph off the barrel. He looks like a much different hitter this time around.
Not only that, but Moniak is still only 22 years old. The time to develop the skills that got him drafted so high are still there.
What is more noticeable is his confidence. A lot of pressure comes with being the first overall pick, and that pressure got to Moniak early in his professional debut. It is a lot to handle for an kid who just turned 18, and it clearly affected his confidence early on. Matt Gelb of The Athletic wrote a great piece about how Moniak has become more self-assured and confident in his abilities this offseason, and it’s showing. So much so that the competition for that last outfielder spot seems to be coming down to Joyce and him.
Moniak, however, has a massive thing in his favor: he’s already on the 40-man roster.
Not having to clear a spot for him is a plus for the Phillies. While Joyce has looked really good this spring, is he worth the hard decision the team will have to make to accommodate him on the roster? Probably not. That being said, Moniak looks to be in the driver’s seat for a bench spot out of Spring Training.
Hell, a good finish to Spring Training and he could be in line to win the starting CF job.
He may never be the player the Phillies thought they were drafting in 2016, but Moniak still has a chance to develop into a very good player.
Any type of production would be a win for a player who most of the fanbase had already written off. Plus, I don’t think I have seen anyone pull off the short sleeve turtleneck as well as Moniak does.