Moniak on call to bigs: 'It's a special moment'

September 18th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- got emotional Wednesday when he called his father to tell him that he made the big leagues.

“I had a hard time getting it out,” he said. “He started bawling on the phone, I could tell. It was a cool moment.”

Better than cool because Moniak had been dreaming about playing in the big leagues since childhood. After he spoke to his father, he called his mother, then his grandfather, who played in the Red Sox's system in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“I had a four-hour window between getting the news and the car service taking me to Philly,” Moniak said. “I made a lot of phone calls, and tried not to leave anyone out. Every one was special and something I’ll never forget.”

The Phillies selected Moniak with the first overall pick in the 2016 Draft. It has been a “roller coaster of a ride” along the way, using Moniak’s words. There have been struggles and constant comparisons to other players taken after him in the Draft, like Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson, Dodgers catcher Will Smith, Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis, Braves right-hander Ian Anderson and Reds outfielder Nick Senzel.

But Moniak finally made it, and he found himself in the starting lineup in left field in Thursday night’s series finale against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

Moniak is the organization’s No. 13 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He slashed .256/.302/.390 in four Minor League seasons, including .252/.303/.439 in 503 plate appearances with Double-A Reading in 2019.

He showed well in Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla., but he tripped and fell down a flight of stairs and injured his right knee (Grade 1 MCL strain) in the summer. He thought he might need surgery and not play baseball until next year.

But after he rehabbed in Clearwater for five weeks, he joined the team’s 60-man player pool at the alternate training site in Allentown, Pa. He had been swinging the bat well.

“There’s a lot that comes with being the No. 1 pick,” Moniak said. “At first, I didn’t think it would affect me at all, being an 18-year-old kid, getting into pro ball and never having a struggle in my life. Once those struggles hit, it kind of hit me. I had to take a step back. In almost every interview I’ve done, I’ve kind of treated it as a blessing to be able to go through those struggles and keep a level head. Keep working toward that goal, and that’s to get to the big leagues. And now that I’m here, I think that, I won’t say it validates the No. 1 pick, but it’s a step forward.

“It’s a special moment for me and it takes a little bit of weight off the shoulders knowing that I got here, but the work is not done. There are long days and seasons to be had. I’m just excited to get started.”