Bill Moniak, the grandfather to the Phillies' No. 1 overall pick, recalls driving in his car with his then 2-year-old grandson listening to whatever baseball game was on the radio, during which Mickey Moniak would mumble out the words "baseball, baseball, baseball."
Imagine that, a 24-month-old boy already showing his first interest in a child's game that will now become his career.
“Mickey has always been special,” his grandfather said. “If there was anyone ever born to play the game, that little kid [was].”
The 18-year-old Moniak was officially introduced by the Phillies on Tuesday after signing a contract the day before. He will head down to Clearwater where he will get set for the Gulf Coast League.
The Phillies, too, believe Moniak was born to play the game and are eager to see what his future holds. It’s only been about two weeks since the Phillies selected the La Costa Canyon product, but the organization has already seen the reason they selected him.
“He’s everything our scouts reported,” said Johnny Almarez, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “He’s very intelligent, a tremendous baseball player, but more than anything, he’s a very high-character person.”
Many of those skills can be traced back to his lineage. Both his grandfather and father played professional baseball, and while he says he never was pushed to play baseball, Moniak has been fed a ton of advice growing up.
He considers that an advantage as he embarks on the minor leagues.
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“You’re not going to know everything by yourself,” Moniak said. “I definitely wouldn’t be the baseball player I am today without my grandpa or my parents.”
In regards to being born to play baseball, the outfielder who batted .478 with 47 RBI this past season says his father actually suggested he play basketball just so he could take a breather from the rigors of baseball 24/7.
Moniak took up his dad’s advice for a little while before turning into baseball mode all year-round once high school started.
“There was never any pressure,” Moniak said. “I just grew up around [baseball]. We would play Wiffleball in the backyard. It was always baseball. I never wanted to do anything else.”
Perhaps that’s why his baseball IQ has been said to be off the charts, drawing comparisons to some of the top outfielders with names like Christian Yelich, Jacoby Ellsbury and — maybe a bit over-the-top — Mike Trout.
“It’s something I definitely developed,” Moniak said. “I like to study the game and see what guys do on the field and what helps them succeed. I think the term 'baseball IQ' is instincts and developing them for what’s going on in a game.”
The Phillies, it seems, found a gem in Moniak, but above all else, they made a dream come true for that once 2-year-old child in his grandfather’s backseat who seemed to be born to be where he is today.