In a year without a consensus No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft, Mike Garcia had no question. The Phillies' area scout for Southern California was sold on outfielder Mickey Moniak.
"I was fighting for him. I loved him. I wanted him no matter what," Garcia said. "Even if we hadn't gotten him, I love the kid. Period."
On Tuesday, Garcia watched Moniak button up a Phillies No. 2 jersey to the sound of a dozen cameras clicking, snapping photos of someone he hopes is the organization's future.
The No. 1 pick signed on Monday, was introduced at a news conference at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, and was set to fly Tuesday night to Clearwater, Fla., where the team's player development staff will take over. Moniak is expected to begin his career in the Gulf Coast League, which starts Friday.
Not bad for a recent high school graduate who turned 18 just last month.
"It is slowly starting to sink in. It is just an honor to be a No. 1 draft pick," Moniak said. "There is one every year and to just be named with guys like that . . . That is the ultimate goal: to make the big leagues and be a guy like a Bryce Harper or a [Stephen] Strasburg."
In the front row, Moniak's extended family looked on proudly. His 10-year-old sister, Jordan, hugged a Phillie Phanatic doll. Little brother Jake took to the podium afterward, mouthing words into the microphone as reporters encircled his big brother.
Moniak said he has savored the last few weeks, which he spent processing that his life was about to change. However, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder was realistic about how long it could take for him to return to the Philadelphia ballpark.
"Whether you're the first pick or the last pick, you're going to go through the process. You're going to go through the minor leagues, and you're going to have to pay your dues," Moniak said. "You definitely want to get up there as quick as possible, but you know that's not in your control."
Before the Phillies came calling, Moniak had committed to UCLA. The left-handed batter had a .390 average over four seasons at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, Calif., batting .476 his senior year.
Having seen Strasburg and Harper play before being drafted, Garcia is excited.
"He has got the potential," Garcia said, motioning to Moniak from across the room. "He may not be like [Harper] in terms of the power, but the overall game he is going to have in him, when he gets to the big leagues as a centerfielder, he is going to be something special."