SECAUCUS, N.J. — After all the uncertainty surrounding the No. 1 pick, the Philadelphia Phillies think they’ve got themselves a sure thing.
Mickey Moniak, a high school outfielder from California, was selected first overall by the Phillies 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 since Tampa Bay drafted Delmon Young in 2003. The selection, announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred at MLB Network studios, marked the first time the Phillies 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 suspense about who the Phillies would grab right up until they officially went on the clock. At least five players were considered to be in the mix for the top spot.
“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.”
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.
“This is the guy we wanted,” Cincinnati scouting director Chris Buckley said. “He’s a very polished player, one of the better hitters, if not the best hitter, in the draft.”
Senzel became 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 the 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.
Stanford right-hander Cal Quantrill, the son of former big league pitcher Paul Quantrill, was taken at No. 8 by San Diego — despite missing this season after having Tommy John surgery last year. He worked out for teams to show he’s healthy now, and before the injury he had a fastball that sat in the low-to-mid-90s and mixed that with a curve, changeup and slider. He also easily got family bragging rights: his father was a sixth-rounder by Boston in 1989.
Detroit also went with a familiar name, selecting California high school righty Matt Manning, the son of former NBA player Rich Manning. At 6-6 and 185 pounds, the younger Manning was a two-sport star, but is expected to pursue a pro career on the mound instead of the hardwood.
Miami catcher Zack Collins rounded out the top 10, going to the Chicago White Sox.
Two players who were also mentioned as possibilities for the No. 1 pick went next: Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis to Seattle, and New Jersey high school left-hander Jason Groome to Boston, his favorite team growing up.
Lewis is a two-time Southern Conference player of year and one of the country’s top college hitters. He was among the nation’s leaders in several offensive categories while hitting .395 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs.
Groome, from Barnegat High School, slipped in the draft over some concerns about his makeup despite a low-to-mid-90s fastball, nasty curve and solid changeup. He threw a no-hitter with 19 strikeouts early in the spring but was suspended by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association over transfer rules after spending his junior season at IMG Academy in Florida.