SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) – The Philadelphia Phillies selected California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak with the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night.
Moniak, from La Costa Canyon High School in south Carlsbad, became the first prep outfielder chosen No. 1 overall since Tampa Bay drafted Delmon Young in 2003.
The selection, announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred at MLB Network studios, marks the first time the Phillies have led off the draft since they took Miami slugger Pat Burrell in 1998.
“I definitely wouldn’t say there’s pressure,” Moniak said in an interview on MLB Network. “I’m excited to hopefully prove the Phillies right.”
With no consensus No. 1 talent this year, there was plenty of uncertainty about who the Phillies would grab right up until they officially went on the clock.
“Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft,” Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said in a statement. “He’s a true center fielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star.”
The left-handed-hitting Moniak is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds and is considered a five-tool talent whose stock rose throughout his senior season. He consistently hits to all fields with solid power to the gaps. Moniak is also an outstanding defensive player who has good speed and is expected to remain in center field as a pro.
Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel went second to Cincinnati, giving the Reds a slugger who might someday provide pop in the middle of their lineup.
Senzel is the Volunteers’ highest-drafted player, surpassing Todd Helton, who went eighth overall in 1995. Senzel’s draft stock rose dramatically after a terrific performance last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he won the MVP award and was selected as the top prospect. He followed that up with a terrific season for Vols, hitting .352 with eight homers, 59 RBIs and an SEC-leading 25 doubles along with 25 stolen bases that led the team.
He could stick at third base or move to shortstop, where he played some this season.
Atlanta took high school right-hander Ian Anderson, who was in attendance at the draft site.
The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder from Shenendehowa High School in upstate New York missed some time on the mound with a strained oblique. But his fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range and he mixes in a solid breaking pitch with terrific control. Anderson helped Team USA’s 18-and-under team win the gold medal at the World Cup in Japan last fall.
At No. 4, Colorado went with fireballing Kansas high school righty Riley Pint. The 6-4, 210-pound St. Thomas Aquinas High School star throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, but can crank it up to 100 mph, along with an exceptional changeup, power curve and tough slider.
Louisville outfielder Corey Ray was fifth pick to Milwaukee. The lefty-hitting slugger sprays the ball to all fields with power, makes consistent contact and has outstanding speed in the field and on the bases. After starring last summer for the Team USA collegiate team, he has been the offensive leader (.319, 15 HRs, 60 RBIs, 44 of 52 in SBs) for the Cardinals, who are in the NCAA Tournament’s super regionals.
Florida left-hander A.J. Puk, who was in the mix for the No. 1 pick, went sixth overall to Oakland. He struggled a bit with inconsistency – 2-3, 3.21 ERA, 95 Ks, 31 BBs – and hasn’t gone deep into many games, but his size along with an upper-90s fastball, fantastic slider and solid changeup have him projected by many as a future ace in the majors.
Left-hander Braxton Garrett from Florence High School in Alabama was the seventh pick by Miami. The 6-3, 190-pounder has one of the best curveballs in draft, dropping in between 76-80 mph, and projects as a front-end starter in the big leagues