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Jay paris: Moniak, Preller give draft North County flair

The Major League draft started in the East and ran smack dab into a North County breeze.

Encinitas’ A. J. Preller was piecing together his Padres prospects, hoping whatever cavalry is coming over the hill has some new recruits.

San Diego’s varsity team is steam rolling toward a 100-loss season and if Preller can work his magic through the draft, let the hocus-pocus begin.

But Preller’s haul was eclipsed by Carlsbad’s Mickey Moniak being selected by the Philadelphia Phillies numero uno.

“To be the No. 1 pick, it’s insane,’’ said Moniak, the smooth-swinging La Costa Canyon High center fielder who had committed to UCLA. “I can’t be more excited.’’

Or more anxious to collect a wager.

It seems Ethan Abrams made a bet with his old LCC teammate. If Moniak were snagged among the top 10 picks, Abrams, a pitcher at Columbia, would tattoo Moniak’s name to his posterior.

Now the ink hasn’t yet dried on Abrams’ backside or Moniak’s multi-million dollar contract with the Phillies. But both will happen soon.

Preller’s haul will likely require patience. But Cal Quantrill, his top pick, looked like a top gun in a bullpen session this week at Petco Park.

While the right-hander is coming off Tommy John surgery, Quantrill, an ex-Stanford star and the eighth overall selection, showed no restrictions — plus, a healthy want-to to get to San Diego quickly.

“I really like him,’’ Preller said.

How about Moniak?

“He could be something pretty special,’’ Preller said. “Obviously we knew he was going to go pretty high.’’

The Phillies were over the moon for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Moniak. It’s no mystery why as Moniak won awards ranging from being the Gatorade player of the year to the San Diego CIF Section’s best player.

He hit a nifty .476 with seven homers. His 12 triples were a San Diego Section record and he raced about the outfield, finding gaps with his glove as well as his bat.

“I think you will have a Gold Glover center fielder who will hit in the middle of the lineup and be a leader on your team,’’ said Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies amateur scouting director.

“He was the best player in the country,” Almaraz said. “There was no projection with Mickey Moniak. He possesses the ability that a lot of college players don’t possess. He can run. He can throw. He can hit. His abilities are superior, and that’s why we took him.”

Moniak leaves behind a LCC team still stinging from an early exit in the CIF playoffs. But that’s baseball and Moniak found a way to blend the old with the new.

Moniak was easy to spot at LCC’s graduation ceremony last week. His gown was traditional but his cap said much more.

The top of it read “Phillies” and one doesn’t need to be Phi Beta Kappa to appreciate the 18-year-old’s excitement.

UCLA’s loss is Philadelphia’s gain and get ready to welcome a grounded person and player.

“What’s great about him is he’s the best teammate there is,’’ LCC coach Justin Machado said.

Abrams likely once agreed with Machado.

Then Moniak went to the front of the class, which has Abrams leading with his, well, backside.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_ sports.