It seems like Mickey Moniak and Kevin Gowdy were destined to play together at some point. The two California products were both committed to attending UCLA, but being picked pretty early on in the MLB Draft, will likely keep them from seeing the UCLA dugout. Instead, they'll both likely sign pretty lucrative deals to play professional baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies and start their professional careers sometime this Summer.
The Phillies have over $13-million to spend on signing draft picks, so the money doesn't figure to be an issue. Plus, Moniak has already said that signing quickly is a priority for him and that he doesn't see any problem with getting a deal done, although he did defer to his agent (technically, he should have used the term "representative") on any deals that need to be signed.
"I'm very excited to be a Phillie," Moniak told reporters on a conference call after being taken with the first overall pick. "I'm definitely looking to get out there as soon as possible. I'm just ready to get the professional career started and hopefully, get up to Philadelphia as fast as I can."
That doesn't sound like a kid who is going to be a tough sign or figures on playing college baseball. As for how much it will take to sign Moniak, GM Matt Klentak said that he simply wasn't sure whether or not the team would be able to sign Moniak for under slot or would have to throw some extra money at him to get the deal done.
Klentak does sound like a guy who is excited about exactly what Moniak could be able to do for the team once he reaches the majors.
"This is a middle of the field player, and I think with the way that baseball is today, that was a major factor for us. This is a kid who is athletic, he can really hit and he is one of - if not the - top bats in the country and he's a center fielder. That's a pretty good combination," said Klentak.
Johnny Almanzar, the Phillies director of scouting, who handled the draft duties for the Phillies agreed that Moniak was one of the best bats in the entire draft and believes that there are a lot of intangibles that made Moniak attractive.
"This individual is wired how I like players. He's got an outstanding makeup, he wants to succeed, he's a relentless worker, and the drive that he possesses based on all of the reports that we have, both psychological and scout's intuition, it just checks out. That's the type of player that we want in the system," said Almanzar.
As for Gowdy, it's very possible that the Phillies may have to give up more money than normal to get him signed, if only because he could go to UCLA and hope to be drafted higher than number 42, where the Phillies chose him. Many players have gone that route and many of them have been successful in climbing the board and ultimately getting a bigger signing bonus. Of course, a player risks things not going the way they hope in college and falling further down, or possibly suffering a career ending or limiting injury before they get their payday. They would also likely reach free agency at an older age and not have the full earning potential that they do at this young point in their lives.
As for Gowdy's tools, Almanzar has been impressed with what he has seen from the young right-hander, who has a three-quarters delivery and has great command of his pitches.
"A young, right-handed pitcher who has the ability to command the baseball at such a young age - an above average fastball, of course, and he's got good breaking stuff - but I'm a big believer that you can't teach somebody how to pitch. He's got that innate ability to get hitters out and that's what we want in this organization."
It's hard to imagine that the Phillies don't have at least a pretty good idea where both players heads are at as far as what it's going to take to get them signed quickly. While teams are forbidden from talking financial specifics with players or their representatives, you have to believe that there's a wink here and a nudge there between the two sides that gives the teams a good idea of which hoops they'll need to jump through to get a player signed.
"That's a big factor for us, taking players that we like, that we're pretty confident are going to sign," said Klentak.
Both players have plenty of talent and it is likely that both will sign pretty quickly and start their professional careers this Summer in either the Gulf Coast League or at Williamsport. The Phillies will then walk that fine line between moving them as quickly as they're ready, but not rushing them up the chain of command in the minors.