LAKEWOOD — Phillies No. 1 draft pick outfielder Mickey Moniak is supposed to have a bright future.
Starting pitcher Nick Fanti created one for himself this summer.
The Phillies have placed much of their future hopes in the development of minor league prospects, such as these two Lakewood BlueClaws.
But Moniak and Fanti have shown this season that young players do not follow a straight line of success to the big leagues. There are plenty of highs and lows along the way.
“Everyone wants to be in ‘The show,’” Fanti said. “But everybody also has things to work on.”
The Phillies drafted Moniak with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft and gave him a $6.1 million signing bonus.
At first glance, the center fielder would appear to be a disappointment this season. He entered Wednesday batting .237 with four home runs and 40 RBIs.
Moniak, 19, is a year out of La Costa Canyon High School in California. He physically still looks like a high school kid.
“There’s nothing you can do to prepare for a full season,” Moniak said. “You have to just go through. The season is one big learning process. It’s different than anything I’ve gone through so far.”
The effects of his first full season in professional baseball appear to be taking their toll. Moniak’s average had dropped from .256 to .241.
“It’s a learning experience,” Moniak said. “You take the good out of it.”
Moniak seems level-headed about his play this season. He repeats often that he’s taking things day-by-day.
“There’s been a lot of good,” he said. “There’s been some bad. Little things I can take out of the good and bad will help me going into the offseason. I just turned 19. A lot of 19-year-olds are going into their sophomore year of college. There’s a lot of time to grow. There’s a lot of things to get better at.”
Unlike Moniak, there was not much fanfare when the Phillies selected Fanti in the 31st round of the 2015 draft. The left-hander from Long Island had committed to attend Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, on a baseball scholarship. But Fanti elected to sign with the Phillies.
“Professional baseball was always my dream,” Fanti said. “I figured the sooner I could get it started you never know what could happen in three years (of college) if you pass up the offer.”
Not much is expected of players selected that late in the draft, but Fanti, 20, is 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA and with 108 strikeouts and 222 walks in 108 2/3 innings pitched this season.
But beyond his statistics, Fanti has drawn the attention of fans with two no-hitters this summer.
The first came May 26. Fanti got the first 26 outs against the Columbia Fireflies. Fanti threw 113 pitches, so Trevor Bettencourt came in to the get the final out.
On July 17, Fanti struck out 12 and threw a no-hitter against the Charleston RiverDogs. Fanti became the first BlueClaws pitcher to throw a complete-game no-hitter since former major league pitcher Gavin Floyd did it in 2002.
“They were both thrown in front of big crowds and exciting atmospheres,” Fanti said.
The BlueClaws are a single-A team and their season ends Sept. 4. Players are at the minimum two to three years away from the major leagues.
Moniak might not have had the season he wanted statistically.
Fanti had a season he’ll probably never forget.
But only time will tell what effect the successes and failures of 2017 had on their chances to make the big leagues.