Entering this season, Mickey Moniak had just 71 MLB games under his belt. Debuting for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020, Moniak was up and down between AAA and the big leagues for each of the next two seasons before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels midway through 2022. Drafted 1st overall in 2016 out of La Costa Canyon HS in Carlsbad, CA, a trade to the Angels was somewhat of a homecoming for Moniak, who emerged as a High School star about 70 miles from Angels stadium. Now getting an opportunity to start for the Angels, Moniak is showing real signs of the player he was projected to become.
Since being recalled by the Angels on May 12th, just one day before his 25th birthday, Moniak is batting .474 with two homers in 6 games. Going 3-4 at the plate in Friday night’s win over the Minnesota Twins, Moniak turned in another impressive showing. Also making a leaping catch at the wall, Moniak shined on both sides of the ball, once again making a case for more playing time at the big league level.
While finding success at this level of something Moniak has been working towards for years, doing so with his family in attendance is something that makes it even more special. Speaking with reporters after Friday night’s win, Moniak was asked about this, saying, “It’s been incredible. I kept you guys waiting, I had about 15 family members here, friends, so it’s just awesome having them close and to be able to see them on a consistent basis. I went 6 years on the East Coast maybe seeing them once or twice a year, so to be able to see them as much as I do now, it’s pretty special.”
It has not been an easy path to this point for Moniak, who experienced some extended struggles in the minor leagues before finally putting together some sustained success in AAA last season. While it’s a small sample size at the big league level of Moniak this season, the Angels can’t help but get excited about the possibility of a former first-overall pick starting to figure it out.
When asked about Moniak after the game, Angels manager Phil Nevin said, “He’s done everything we’ve asked. He went down with a great attitude after having a great [Spring Training]. I know he was disappointed, but he kept his head up, did a heck of a job for a month or so in Salt Lake, now he’s gotten an opportunity and he’s wrapped his hands around it and run with it.”
While Nevin admitted it’s going to be tough getting Moniak in the lineup every single day with the Angels’ current outfield situation, he added that he won’t let the young outfielder sit for too long, and will continue finding ways to get him in the lineup.
The connection with Nevin is something that has also helped Moniak thrive, as the two are able to connect over their first-overall draft selections and ties to Southern California.
“It’s huge,” Moniak said when asked about having Nevin as his manager. “Also being a San Diego guy, talking to him in the offseason, I worked out with his two sons. We’re close in that sense, and then obviously the first-overall pick thing, I think that’s something that not a lot of people can have in common. I love Phil, he has my back, he’s had my back since I got here, and it’s an honor to go out there and play for him every day.”