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Yoan Moncada: The $31.5 MM Bargain

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The next Cuban superstar is on his way to the Show.

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A bit over a year ago, Major League Baseball cleared Yoan Moncada to sign, opening the floodgates to a cavalcade of rumors regarding when and where the wunderkind would sign, and for how much. He was the most hyped Cuban import since Yoenis Cespedes, with Ben BadlerJim Callis, and Kiley McDaniel all agreeing that he would rank among the top-15 prospects in the game before he even signed. When he signed for $31.5 MM, some went so far as to call Moncada a bargain. And not much has changed since then.

Moncada is also the first elite prospect that we are profiling in our positional preview series, ranking fourth in our consensus top-100, and seventh on the lists of both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. This comes on the heels of a fantastic professional debut, where he batted .278/.380/.438 with 8 home runs and 49 SB (against just 3 CS) for the Red Sox Single-A affiliate. Moncada achieved that line, which was 35% above league-average by wRC+, while also shaking off the rust from more than a year away from organized baseball. He struggled for the first five weeks of the season, sporting a .229/.311/.321 with just 1 HR and 9 SB in his first thirty games, but something clicked shortly thereafter. From July 1 on (51 games), he hit .305/.414/.503 with 7 HR and 40 SB, with improved walk and strikeout rates.

Spending the entirety of 2015 at Single-A was a bit surprising, given his ambitious goal of reaching the Majors in a year, but it made sense within the context of his season. Moncada clearly went through an adjustment period, and did so with gusto. There was and is no need to push him too quickly, regardless of how impressive his performance may be.

Perhaps most importantly, the scouting reports match or surpass the stat line. The 20 year old is regarded as a true five tool talent, with Baseball Prospectus scout David Lee grading all of his tools as average or better (the report is absolutely glowing). Moncada has been likened to both Robinson Cano and Chase Utley, as he has the frame to add power and the pure contact skills to maintain high batting averages. His speed is something that neither had (although Utley was a smart, efficient base-runner at his peak), though it may well be blasphemy to imply that he could be on the same level as two of the recent juggernauts of the keystone. That being said, when a well-traveled amateur scout thinks he can hit .300+ with 20+ HR and 40+ SB, it's difficult to avoid such lofty comparisons.

At this point, Moncada is still a couple of years (or a couple of levels) away from the Show, with Dustin Pedroia under contract with the Red Sox through 2021. There are developmental and organizational hurdles that even the most precocious of talents must overcome, and that does ding his potential fantasy impact in 2016. That being said, there are precious few prospects with the potential for all-around brilliance, and Moncada may be the best of them.