Angels' Mickey Moniak aims to contribute in finale vs. Twins

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Field Level Media
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May 16, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak (16) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
May 16, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak (16) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Image: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Mickey Moniak may or may not be in the starting lineup Sunday afternoon when the Los Angeles Angels host the Minnesota Twins in Anaheim, Calif

As the Angels' fourth outfielder, Moniak knows his job is to be ready when called upon

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It's not a situation Moniak is accustomed to, considering he was the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft in 2016 by the Philadelphia Phillies. But the 25-year-old has overcome an up-and-down start to his professional career and understands what he needs to do to succeed.

And it starts with actually being in the big leagues.

Moniak started the season at Triple-A Salt Lake after the Angels decided to go with Brett Phillips as their fourth outfielder. But Phillips was designated for assignment, and Moniak's success with the Bees -- he hit .308 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 33 games -- earned him a spot on the major league roster

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Moniak, acquired by the Angels in a trade-deadline deal last July that sent pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the Phillies, is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with a double, triple, two home runs, three RBIs and a 1.376 OPS in seven games since being called up May 12. That includes a start in center field Friday in which Moniak singled, doubled, tripled and made a home-run-robbing catch

"It feels incredible," Moniak said of his recent success. "I think that the ultimate goal is just to be here and help the team win. And I feel like I've been able to do that the last week being up here. And just kind of focusing on one step at a time, one day at a time."

Moniak did not get much of a chance with the Phillies, playing in a total of 47 games over parts of three seasons, hampered by injuries (broken right wrist and broken left middle finger) and a .129 batting average. But Moniak, who was drafted out of high school in the San Diego area, seems to feel more at home in Anaheim.

"He's done everything we've asked," Angels manager Phil Nevin said. "He went down with a great attitude after spring training after having a great spring. I know he was disappointed but kept his head up. Did a heck of a job for a month or so in Salt Lake and got an opportunity, and he's ... running with it.

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Shohei Ohtani (5-1, 3.23 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season for the Angels. The right-hander picked up a victory in his most recent start on Monday against Baltimore despite giving up five runs in seven innings

Ohtani, who is 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota, hit his team-leading 11th homer in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Twins

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Right-hander Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.00) will make his 10th start of the season for the Twins. He is coming off a no-decision in his last start after allowing five runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers

Lopez, who spent the first five seasons of his major league career with the Miami Marlins before being traded to the Twins in January, has yet to face the Angels

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The Twins thought so much of Lopez that they signed him to a four-year, $73.5 million contract extension after the season began, inking the deal on April 21

"It's rare ... when you read the scouting reports that you look on paper and the player exceeds everything that's written there and it says ‘high character' and it says ‘incredible work ethic' and it says everything about the quality of the pitcher that he is," said Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "Then he comes to the doors and you get to know the person -- the living, breathing human being who is there, and (he's) just over and above.

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Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is questionable for the series finale after having to leave Saturday's game with tightness in his right leg

--Field Level Media