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.
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“I definitely wouldn’t say there’s pressure,” the 6-foot-2, 190-pound 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 was the Cape Cod League MVP last summer and followed that up with a terrific season for the Volunteers, hitting .352 with eight homers, 59 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
“I got a little emotional,” Senzel said about receiving the call from the Reds. “I didn’t tell my dad. I wanted him to be surprised. When they called my name, it was tears of joy, getting to hug him. Since I was little, this is what I dreamed of happening. For it to actually be in reality, I’m honored. It’s unbelievable.”
With the third pick, Atlanta took high school right-hander Ian Anderson, who was in attendance at the draft site.
The 6-3, 170-pounder from Shenendehowa High School in upstate New York immediately slipped on a Braves home jersey and cap, and his mother, sitting with his father in a makeshift dugout in the studio, wiped away tears as her son shook hands with Manfred and placed his own name on the draft board.
“You never know going into the draft where you’re going to go, and going into the season you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Anderson, who was projected to be picked later in the opening round. “I’m happy with the way it played out.”
Will Benson, the other prospect at the draft, didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called. The high school outfielder from The Westminster Schools in Georgia went No. 14 overall to Cleveland and said he will “definitely” sign with the Indians rather than go to Duke.
“I’m just so excited, so happy, so thankful that finally I have a platform now to impact the whole world,” he said. “With this pick, I get to touch so many lives.”
At No. 4, Colorado went with fireballing Kansas high school righty Riley Pint. The St. Thomas Aquinas High School star throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, but can crank it up to 100 mph.
“I think that’s one of the most things asked: ‘How hard do you throw?’” Pint said. “I really just go out there and just try to pitch. I’m not really trying to go out there and light up radar guns or anything.”
Louisville outfielder Corey Ray was the fifth pick to Milwaukee. The lefty-hitting slugger 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 selection, went sixth overall to Oakland.
Left-hander Braxton Garrett from Florence High School in Alabama was the seventh pick by Miami and was regarded as having one of the best curveballs in the draft.
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. Quantrill also easily got family bragging rights: his father was a sixth-rounder by Boston in 1989.
The Padres went with Texas high school shortstop Hudson Sanchez at No. 24 and Kent State lefty Eric Lauer, who led Division I pitchers with a 0.69 ERA, at No. 25 with their other two first-round selections.
Detroit also picked a player with pro bloodlines, selecting California high school righty Matt Manning, the son of former NBA forward Rich Manning.
Miami catcher Zack Collins rounded out the top 10, going to the Chicago White Sox.
Two players who were 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 the 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.
“We thought he was going to be picked before us,” Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. “We’re very excited that he made it to us.”
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 three weeks by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association over transfer rules after spending his junior season at IMG Academy in Florida.
Delvin Perez, a shortstop from the International Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico, also dropped after being mentioned as a possible top-5 pick. He went 23rd to St. Louis after reports surfaced a few days before the draft that he failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs.
The Cardinals wrapped up the first round with two more picks: California high school outfielder Dylan Carlson (No. 33) and Mississippi State right-hander Dakota Hudson (No. 34).
Rounds one and two, along with two lottery rounds, were completed Thursday night. The draft continues with rounds 3-10 on Friday and rounds 11-40 on Saturday — all via conference calls with teams.