With May 14 in the rearview mirror, the Chicago White Sox now have an additional year of control over their prized prospect. Yoan Moncada is absolutely raking at the Triple-A level, so it’s time to consider the optimum date to promote the fledgling second baseman.
Yoan Moncada’s Debut Won’t be Rushed
Reporters recently broached the subject with General Manager Rick Hahn. He responded, “He’s shown a fair amount of progress in each of those areas that we’ve asked of him. That said, we want to see that over an extended period of time. It’s awfully important to not lose sight of the fact this is a 21-year-old player, one who was not playing two years ago as of right now. It’s a guy who has fewer than 325 or so plate appearances above A-ball.”
Based on that comment, it doesn’t appear that management plans on bringing him to the big club anytime soon. There’s really no compelling reason for them to do so. The organization doesn’t plan on contending for another couple of years or so, and they’ve already got some developmental players at the position in the big leagues. While Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez don’t offer near the upside of Moncada, they are emerging as usable major league players. Neither is likely to be part of a championship team as more than a utility player, but there’s always the possibility of flipping them to a contender in need of middle infield help. An injury or two to the right team at the right time could snare a prospect, as the team is in talent collection mode.
Moncada’s Best Interests at Heart
Bringing up Moncada now would surely inject some enthusiasm into the club’s permanently hard-to-please fan base. The Sox are always desperate for ticket sales and, with the weather warming up, they’re sure to attract some coveted fannies into the empty seats that are commonplace at Guaranteed Rate Field.
But is that the right thing for his development? Moncada struggled mightily in a stint in the majors with the Boston Red Sox last September, with an abysmal slash line of .211/.250/.263 and a whopping 12 strikeouts in only 19 at bats. Contrast that with current his gaudy numbers for the 2017 Charlotte Knights (.331/.401/.504 and with six home runs) and it’s easy to understand why both fans and media alike are clamoring to see him in black & white pinstripes, or any of the other numerous permutations the White Sox frequently trot out in an effort to snag additional merchandise sales.
One key difference from 2016 is he hadn’t spent any time at Triple-A. With 139 at-bats now under his belt at the highest level of the minors, there appears to be nothing more for him to prove, other than maintaining his impressive pace.
So, what’s the downside in bringing him up? At 21 years old and with a small amount of time in professional baseball, there’s the possibility of crushing his confidence. As the White Sox marquee acquisition of the offseason, there will be pressure on him to perform regardless of the team’s place in the standings. Chicago’s small but passionate fan base will be scrutinizing how he handles every pitch thrown his direction. It’s also unlikely that Moncada has forgotten what took place last year in Boston. Still, what’s the upside in making Triple-A pitchers look like fools night after night?
Having already faced adversity, he needs to have some success in the majors to build confidence. So there’s a case for bringing him up while he’s locked in. If he struggles again and gets past it, then you’ve got a bona fide MLB player. He can always be sent back down for additional training on the weaknesses that big league pitchers expose.
Moncada needs to prove himself in the majors sooner or later, so the guess is the White Sox will bring him up well before rosters expand in September. With Moncada set to come off the DL any day, could now be the time? If not June or July, hopefully before August. Whatever the date, he’ll be manning second base in Chicago sometime soon.