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Yoan Moncada Is Being Rushed

The Red Sox have the top prospect in baseball.  I honestly don't know when we've ever had that.  He's playing in Portland (...in Portland...), the same spot from which Andrew Benintendi jumped into the bigs with great early success.  So, bring up Yoan Moncada right now. Right?

I know it's too late, but the answer was: no.  There are a lot of logical problems with the calculations at play with this promotion.  Benintendi was the best player in college baseball last year and there is a strong recent track record of players making a quick jump from major college programs to the bigs. Heck, John Olerud had a brain aneurysm, was a part time pitcher in Washington State, and still jumped directly to the big leagues and a very strong 17 year career.  But, Moncada did not play major college baseball.  Instead, he played two years of professional baseball in Cuba, then missed almost a year as he went through the process of joining the Sox.

Moncada, also unlike Benintendi, has significant areas of his game that he still clearly needs to work on.  He's learning a new position where he's had three errors in nine games.  He also needs to work on hitting right-handed.  I also wonder how much he's going to walk when pitchers aren't petrified by him like they were in A-ball (the level he was playing in through the middle of June (this June)).

This feels like the same mistake that the Sox made with fellow-Cuban Rusney Castillo, but maybe worse. Castillo was significantly older then Moncada, so there were fewer prime years to potentially cash in on.  Castillo also had a 7 year, $72.5 million contract.  That means they were (and are) paying him about $10 million each year and that just feels bad when he's playing in Pawtucket (along side $9 million man Allen Craig).  But Moncada received a large signing bonus (and cost the Sox an equally large penalty) and now is on a rookie contract similar to other stars like: Noe Ramirez.  Thus, the $ clock isn't ticking for Moncada like it was for Castillo. 

Meanwhile, look around the league and a lot of highly skilled Cuban ex-pats might explode on the scene but fizzle.  Yasiel Puig anyone?  Countryman and fellow young signee by the Sox, Jose Iglesias had over 1,200 minor league at bats before establishing himself in the bigs - and he wasn't even expected to hit, ever. Moncada has 854.  The most successful recent Cuban position players have entered the league in their prime with Cespedis and Abreu both breaking in at 27 years old.

The argument is not without merit that Moncada benefits from being in the big league dugout especially while there's no lost opportunity for development elsewhere because the minors are putting up the winter shutters.  But rookies also can get into bad habits when they aren't ready for the bigs - or if they find early success in those bad habit, before MLB pitchers adjust in acknowledgement that they can hit the heat.

The other big factor here is what's best for a contending Sox team.  Offensively, Moncada is probably our best third baseman.  But he does not sound ready defensively.  Perhaps the Sox should bring Deven Marrero up as the Doug Mientkiewicz of thirdbase with Yoan playing the Millar role.  But if that's the case, let's hope Marrero gives the ball back. 

All that said, I'm really excited to see this kid play.


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