Today we conclude our tour of the fifteen best prospects in the Chicago White Sox farm system, with the new top overall prospect on the south side of Chicago, Yoan Moncada.
Back in early December at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade that would send one of the best pitchers in baseball, Chris Sale away to the Boston Red Sox, in exchange for an impressive haul of prospects, that would become the first step in revamping a long neglected farm system in Chicago.
The headliner in that return was the now second overall prospect in all of baseball according to both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, Yoan Moncada.
It has been quite some time since the White Sox have featured a prospect within the top five in all of baseball, let alone the top two, and quite possibly the prospect with the highest ceiling in all of baseball. Moncada, 21, is the future of the Chicago White Sox as they head into the 2017 season featuring one of the best farms in all of baseball, boasting six Top-100 prospects, another claim that they haven’t been able to boast in many years.
Moncada struggled to adjust to the major-league level in his brief stint with the Red Sox late in the 2016 season, hitting just .211 over the span of eight games. But the idea that Moncada will continue to have those struggles at the major-league level is absolutely ludicrous. There is no chance that those 20 plate appearances with Boston were a precursor to the future.
During his 2016 campaign in the Boston minor-league system, Moncada split time between A-Advanced Salem, and Double-A Portland, playing in a total of 106 games for the Red Sox and Sea Dogs. During that span Moncada compiled a .294 batting average, 15 home runs, 62 RBIs, 31 doubles, and six triples. Oh yeah, by the way, he can fly on the base-paths, swiping 45 bases in 2016, just four shy of his 49 stolen bases that he recorded in 2015.
Overall Moncada has a .287 batting average to go along with 23 home runs, 100 RBIs, 50 doubles, nine triples, 94 stolen bases, and a slash line of .395/.480/.875 over the course of 187 games in the Red Sox system. Not only did Moncada display superb power, he showed off his blazing speed, as well as his above average ability to get on base consistently, evident by his on-base percentage just shy of .400. Moncada also showed a keen ability to hit with runners on base, only grounding into nine double plays in 711 at-bats. Moncada also won the 2016 Sirius XM Futures Game MVP Award.
Moncada is a switch-hitter with phenomenal bat speed from both sides of the plate, and while his strike-out rate was a small cause for concern in his very brief cup of coffee at the major-league level, Moncada has shown excellent patience at the plate, especially over the course of the 2016 season in the Boston farm system. Moncada has also developed his raw power ability tremendously over the past year, nearly doubling his home run total from 2015 to 2016, while playing at a higher level of competition. Moncada is most certainly a gifted hitter who could consistently hit .280-.300 at the major-league level, with an on-base percentage near .400.
Moncada has been compared to Robinson Cano as a hitter, but that comp just doesn’t do Moncada justice, as his game is so much more complete than that of Cano. To date Moncada has stolen 94 bases, at a stellar success rate of 86 percent!
Defensively, Moncada is closer to an average to above-average fielder rather than a great fielder, but the 21-year-old is already working to perfect his craft at second base with the White Sox, reporting to Spring Training five days early to focus on improving as a defender, a plan that White Sox Manager Rick Renteria is watching closely this spring. Moncada will likely begin the season in Triple-A with the Charlotte Knights, where he will spend time with former second-baseman and current Knights Manager Mark Grudzielanek, which will help Moncada refine his defensive skills before making his way to the White Sox. Grudzielanek is a career .986 defender at second-base, committing only 72 errors in over five thousand chances over the course of 1,135 games at second base, and a former Gold Glove Award winner.
Moncada will be working hard this spring and early-on in the 2017 season to try to decrease his strike-out rate and shore up his glove at second base, something that should be improved tremendously with some simple footwork corrections that are causing him to get too far on top of ground balls, and attempt to force his case for the White Sox to bring him to the major-league level.
At just 21-years-old, Moncada could be served well by an entire season in Triple-A, even if he absolutely tears it up, giving him that full season, and having him break camp with the major-league club in the spring of 2018, still at just 22-years-old, and likely more than ready to make an impact at that level, would be the ideal plan of action for Moncada with the White Sox.