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Phillies may consider drafting high school centerfielder

CARLSBAD, Calif. - The sound that comes from Mickey Moniak's bat emanates throughout the ballpark. Even with an aluminum bat, Moniak hits the baseball so hardand so square that there's a perfect thwack as he connects and sends the ball buzzing through the air.

CARLSBAD, Calif. - The sound that comes from Mickey Moniak's bat emanates throughout the ballpark. Even with an aluminum bat, Moniak hits the baseball so hardand so square that there's a perfect thwack as he connects and sends the ball buzzing through the air.

That powerful swing is one of many reasons Moniak is positioned to potentially be chosen No. 1 overall by the Phillies in the MLB first-year player draft on June 9. The outfielder out of La Costa Canyon High School in northern San Diego County has all the tools.

The 6-foot-2 Moniak is a contact hitter who rarely misses when he swings. His power has gradually increased as he has grown. But perhaps his greatest asset is his speed. Moniak has been clocked at 6.58 seconds in the 60-yard dash and makes a lot happen with his legs.

"I can run, which helps a lot of parts of the game," Moniak said. "Offense, stealing bases, hitting balls in the gaps, legging out triples. And then in the outfield, getting to fly balls and getting to spots. Not letting anything drop out there."

Rarely do balls drop on Moniak's watch. Scouts are still talking about how he tracked down a towering fly ball at last year's Area Code games and made it look routine. With such tremendous range and arm strength, he'd like to stay in center field, and that's where he likely projects at the next level.

"I definitely feel like I profile as a centerfielder," Moniak said. "I think I've got the speed to stay out in center field, and I like playing in center field. I got put in center field when I was 13. I moved from shortstop to center, and I took it up well."

Baseball is in Moniak's blood. His father, Matt Moniak, played at San Diego State, and his grandfather, Bill Moniak, was signed by the Red Sox in 1958. While Bill never reached the major leagues, the experience of studying hitting under Ted Williams was enough to lay the foundation for Matt and Mickey.

Hitting is an art form for Moniak. He understands how to make adjustments to get the most out of his lefthanded swing. He has widened his stance as he has gotten taller. He uses his legs and hips to produce torque. Scouts love how free and easy the lefty swing is, and they love his potential for power at the top of the order if he puts on some weight.

"The baseball just jumps off his bat," Angels broadcaster and 14-year major-league veteran Mark Gubicza said. Gubicza, an assistant coach at Chaminade High School outside of Los Angeles, was so impressed with Moniak's performance in the Boras Baseball Classic in January that he took it upon himself to seek him out.

"He had like three unbelievable at-bats against the ace of our staff, Tommy Costello, who's going to the University of Washington" next season, Gubicza said. "He hit two baseballs right on the button. Great arm. And I even talked to him after the game, and he's a super, super nice kid."

Most scouts have said the same thing: Moniak seems to "get it." His coach, Justin Machado, said Moniak's team-first attitude hasn't changed since the scouts descended on North County a few years ago. He's never cocky, and he always hustles.

"He runs out everything, which I'm always impressed with," Gubicza said. "We were playing him deep, and he hit two baseballs right at them. But he ran down the line as quick as he could just in case there was a mistake."

So what doesn't Moniak have? The only thing that he seems to be lacking is some bulk. Machado jokingly calls the 190-pounder scrawny, and scouts say that he needs to put on 20 to 30 pounds. But Moniak isn't too concerned. He'll hit the weight room this summer. He'll bulk up as he gets older.

Moniak, who is represented by Los Angeles area agent Lenny Strelitz, is committed to play at UCLA and seems sold on being a Bruin. However, the prospect of richer pastures is alluring, and the prospect of being chosen first overall may be almost as a sweet as his swing.

"It's been awesome. [The Philles have] been seeing me and giving me support," Moniak said. "Obviously Philadelphia is a great sports town, and they've got a great history in baseball. If Philadelphia decides to pick me, it would be a dream come true to play for that city and those fans."

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