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MLB Rookie Profile: Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox

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A quick update on just-promoted White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada

MLB: All Star Game-Futures Game Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the big trade with the New York Yankees last night, the Chicago White Sox promoted top prospect Yoan Moncada to the major league roster. Here’s a quick update on what to expect.

As you likely remember, Moncada was the centerpiece prospect in last December’s Chris Sale trade between the White Sox and the Boston Red Sox.

Moncada was rated as the top prospect on the pre-season White Sox Top 20 Prospects for 2017 list with the following commentary:

1) Yoan Moncada, 2B-3B, Grade A: Age 21, signed by Red Sox out of Cuba in 2015; traded to White Sox in Chris Sale deal; hit .294/.407/.511 with 15 homers, 45 steals, 72 walks, 124 strikeouts in 405 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, then went 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts in MLB trial; Number Two prospect in all of baseball, just behind Andrew Benintendi; switch-hitter with power, speed, good eye for the strike zone; could be 20+ homers, 20+ steals, 80 walks producer and that could be an underestimate; had issues with contact during MLB trial but shouldn’t be a long-term factor; defense needs more polish and time in Triple-A will be useful but should be a lineup mainstay soon. ETA 2017.

His 2017 season has been solid: .282/.377/.447 for Triple-A Charlotte in the International League, with 12 homers, 17 steals, 49 walks, and 102 strikeouts in 309 at-bats. His production has been well above-average by International League standards, with a wRC+ of 130.

Moncada is a switch-hitter, listed at 6-2, 205, born May 27th, 1995. As noted in the pre-season report Moncada has all the necessary tools to be an excellent player, with a special combination of power and speed. He’ll take his walks as well and has posted high on-base percentages in the minors.

There are two main questions for Moncada: defense and contact.

Moncada spent time at both second and third base in the Red Sox system but the White Sox used him exclusively at second base with Charlotte. His arm is very strong for a second baseman. Although he will botch a routine play occasionally, he’s athletic enough to handle second base quite well and has steadily lowered his error rate. There’s nothing wrong with his glove that simple experience won’t cure.

Contact is the bigger worry: he’s fanned 28.3% of the time this year, high enough to generate concerns about his batting average going forward. That said, he makes a good effort to work counts and find pitches to hit. His walk rates have remained steady and his strikeout rate is actually down slightly this year from 31% in 2016.

Moncada probably won’t hit for high averages in the short term but he should show power, steal bases, draw some walks, and provide steady defense. He’s only 22, still three or four years away from his prime. He may need time to adapt but few prospects offer his across-the-board potential.