PHILADELPHIA -- Mickey Moniak considers Mickey Mantle his favorite baseball player, but not because they share a name.Moniak, whom the Phillies selected on Thursday with the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft, simply loves the Hall of Fame outfielder. The Phillies hope Moniak will be their next great outfielder.
PHILADELPHIA -- Mickey Moniak considers Mickey Mantle his favorite baseball player, but not because they share a name.
Moniak, whom the Phillies selected on Thursday with the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft, simply loves the Hall of Fame outfielder. The Phillies hope Moniak will be their next great outfielder. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed hitter from La Costa Canyon (Calif.) High School is expected to begin that journey shortly. It is likely the Phils and Moniak, 18, reached a verbal agreement shortly before the Draft, which is why Moniak said in a conference call with reporters that he expects to sign "as soon as possible."
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"I'm just ready to get the professional career started and hopefully get up to Philadelphia as fast as I can," said Moniak, who committed to UCLA along with second-round pick Kevin Gowdy, a right-hander.
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Moniak's stock started to rise last summer and continued to rise through the spring. He hit .476 with 12 triples, seven home runs, 46 RBIs and a .921 slugging percentage in his senior year. The Phillies scouted Moniak extensively, with everybody from Pat Gillick to Charlie Manuel, two of the club's senior advisors, meeting with him on more than one occasion.
More than 20 scouting reports over the past year from the Phillies culminated with Moniak and his family and friends watching the Draft as his aunt's home. The household erupted with cheers as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Moniak's name live on MLB Network. Moniak's cousin immediately handed him a Phils cap.
"The No.1 pick has always been a dream," Moniak said. "Up until the point where the Commissioner said my name, it was all a mystery. When it happened, it was unbelievable."
Moniak is most often compared to Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He is a talented hitter who possesses gap power and is an above-average runner who has the potential to be a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. Moniak is not a big guy, so scouts wonder if he will hit for power in the big leagues. Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz said he thinks Moniak will hit 15-22 homers per season in the big leagues.
"I think you'll have a Gold Glove center fielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on the team," Almaraz said.
Moniak said he is committed to putting on more weight. He said doing so helped in the past year; he hit no home runs as a junior before hitting seven as a senior.
"He was No. 1 on my list -- he was the best player in the country," Almaraz said. "There was no projection with Mickey Moniak. He possesses the ability that a lot of college players don't possess. He can run. He can throw. He can hit. His abilities are superior, and that's why we took him."
Moniak's father, Matt, played college baseball at San Diego State. His grandfather, Bill, played five years in the Minor Leagues and received some hitting instruction from Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams.
"The main thing he taught me that Ted taught him was mostly about approach, what you're looking to do at the plate," Moniak said of his grandfather.
Moniak is the sixth outfielder to be selected first overall since 1986. The previous five are Bryce Harper (2010), Delmon Young ('03), Josh Hamilton (1999), Darin Erstad ('95) and Ken Griffey Jr. ('87).
The Phillies selected Pat Burrell with the first overall pick in 1998, although he was officially listed as a third baseman.
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.