Late Wednesday night, the Red Sox announced that top prospect Yoan Moncada would be getting his call to the show. This is not particularly surprising, given that folk have been clamoring for this for weeks now, and the 21-year-old has unquestionably earned an extended look. Moreover, the Red Sox are only two games out of the AL East lead, so it is all hands on-deck - and Moncada is the ablest hand available.
Signed to a record-shattering $31.5 MM contract out of Cuba (the highest bonus ever given to an amateur player, as per MLB’s IFA rules), Moncada was a bit of an unknown commodity heading into 2015. He spent the season at Single-A Greenville, where he hit a solid .278/.380/.438 with 8 HR and 49 SB in 81 games, earning praise for his true five-tool talent and ability to make adjustments. It was plain to see that he was an athletic marvel, as well, with a build not unlike a running back (or Mike Trout). As such he was a consensus top prospect heading into this season, peaking at #3 on Baseball America’s list. The sky was the limit - he just had to work his way up the ladder.
And here we are, less than a year later, and Moncada was widely regarded as the top prospect in all of baseball at the time of his promotion. Moncada hit .307/.427/.496 with 57 R, 4 HR, 34 RBI, and 36 SB in two and a half months at High-A Salem (284 PA), earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in mid-June. He then proceeded to hit .277/.379/.531 with 37 R, 11 HR, 28 RBI, and 9 SB as one of the youngest players in the league; and, once he joins the Red Sox roster, he’ll be the second-youngest player in the American League.
In the weeks leading up to this announcement, Moncada played exclusively at third base - a position that he had played in Cuba, but never as a professional. He has taken well to the position, and it is a better use of his quick-twitch athleticism and powerful arm than the keystone. It also makes him a better fit for the Red Sox roster, which has received a meager .248/.312/.393 slash line from the position (and also has Dustin Pedroia at second). With all of this laid out, it is plain to see that the team has a clear path to playing time for Moncada.
Despite Moncada’s obvious talent, it is difficult to predict how he will perform in the Majors. He missed time with an ankle injury recently, and has all of 207 PA above Class-A (and none at Triple-A). While he is a better prospect than Andrew Benintendi, he also lacks the same background (lest we forget that Benintendi spent three years playing against high-level competition in college). Moncada has the talent to make a big-time splash right away, and he has proven that he can make adjustments - both of which suggest great things.
I, for one, would not hesitate to add Moncada to my roster, as I have been all-in on his talent for quite some time. He can chip in a bit of everything, particularly in the hitter-friendly environment of Fenway Park. There is simply a bit more uncertainty here than there is with other top prospects, due to his relative inexperience. Act accordingly.