Noah Syndergaard will make his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park, but Mickey Moniak -- part of the trade return sent to Los Angeles in return for him earlier this week -- made his first start for the Angels Wednesday evening.
Prior to his debut with the Angels -- where he went 0-2 before being pinch hit for -- the former No. 1 overall pick was asked to reflect on whether a fresh start with the Angels will prove to be a good thing for him.
"Looking back on my time with Philadelphia, I was grateful for it, [being] given a chance as an 18-year-old kid ... I came up with them ... debuted with them," Moniak said to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.
"But, I think that, you know, for me, I've always been a guy that maybe takes a little bit to get comfortable at every level and once I get comfortable, it's on from there. So, [I] wasn't really given that opportunity there, which makes sense. They're always in a pennant hunt with a lot of money on the field, so just to be here and be told that you're gonna go out and play and have some fun is huge."
Moniak is right in the sense that he wasn't ever given an especially long leash with the Phillies, but a major part of that is because he's looked very overmatched at the plate in every chance he's been given. In 93 at-bats over parts of three seasons with the Phillies, Moniak had just 12 hits (.129), only two of which were of the extra-base variety. He struck out 41 times in 105 plate appearances, a staggering amount. So even though he seemingly had a Major League glove, after a start or two in each stint with the Phillies, he felt unplayable.
Compare that with Bryson Stott, another first-round pick who has 245 plate appearances in 2022. Stott is hitting below the Mendoza line, but he's given the Phillies enough flashes for them to think that as he plays more, his results will improve. Moniak didn't do that.
And frankly, the Phillies would have loved for Moniak to take one of the chances he was given and run with it. It's not as though the team has had an embarrassment of riches in terms of center field options -- far from it, really. The plan was for him to start on Opening Day in center field, but he had an otherwise excellent Spring Training end on a sour note when he broke his right hand just days before the regular season was set to begin. Neither Matt Vierling or Odúbel Herrera was able to seize the starting center field job in his absence, and yet when he came back, he struck out in 19 of 46 at-bats and proved to be the least effective of the three options.
For an Angels team that's 44-59 and 22 games back in the American League West, Moniak should get his most extended look at the Major League level for the remainder of the season. Perhaps that's what he'll need to finally click.