Emma: The Star Of Yoan Moncada Could Shine Bright

By Chris Emma–

(CBS) The legend of Yoan Moncada, for all its promise, begins with an extraordinary consumption of Twinkies.

Before all that potential first arrives on Chicago’s south side and the prized prospect begins his White Sox career, Moncada has left us in awe. Whether it’s folk lore or legitimate, Moncada has been known to scarf down 85 Twinkies in a week.

He once allegedly devoured 225 in a single week, as those close to him have sworn. Such an unfathomable feat provides Chicago’s first impressions of Moncada, the talented 21-year-old second baseman acquired as the prized return in the Chris Sale trade to the Red Sox in December.

Consider it no surprise that White Sox veterans have come out and stated they can win this season, despite their general manager even admitting 2017 will be a new challenge amid their rebuild. It’s admirable for a Todd Frazier to step forward and rally his team as Opening Day nears, but this season isn’t about fighting for contention and going for it.

This season is about youngsters like Moncada, who’s one of baseball’s brightest young prospects.

Moncada looks the part of a superstar running back more than an infielder. All eyes were on him as he entered SoxFest in January, the fascination only beginning.

During his first spring training with the White Sox, Moncada hit .317 with three homers and posted an OPS of 1.074. His arrival is projected for mid-May, a delay that’s a matter of service time. Frankly, it’s not likely the White Sox will be in first place again this spring. The wait for Moncada is well underway. It will be widely anticipated.

FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote a glowing scouting report of Moncada prior to his major league debut last September, closing with the following:

This is the best prospect in baseball, a player I think will be a perennial All-Star and a potential MVP type of talent, with tools so deafeningly loud that it may be a while before we hear the echoes of his historical significance.

Moncada is ranked the No. 2 prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America, behind only Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and has been compared to Robinson Cano but with better speed. In Boston’s minor league system last season, he hit 15 home runs, stole 45 bases and posted a .918 OPS in 106 games. His power is considered raw and is only developing. The speed is real.

Scouting reports believe Moncada will become a five-tool player as his power develops, with projections of 30-homer potential with the speed that’s already there. His glove is solid, too.

In seasons past, “Sale Day” became an event every five days for baseball fans as the White Sox ace would take the hill. He brought his electric stuff to each start, a fastball to jam hitters and a slider to fool them. But the White Sox made the needed move in trading Sale and stockpiling young talents for their organization.

The White Sox now have an impressive group of young pitchers, with the likes of Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, Spencer Adams, Zack Burdi and more. Jose Quintana could be the next trade chip to garner a major package in return.

Development for these young arms and others will take time. Until then, it’s about enjoying the development and promise.

I’m ready for Moncada Days, watching the prized prospect grow in his White Sox career. Prospects can always fall below expectations, which makes rebuilding a dangerous proposition, but the tools Moncada has don’t seem to deceive. He could be a superstar on the south side for years to come.

The potential is there, and the excitement is real. Moncada is on his way and the White Sox have hope in the form of a slugging, speedy second baseman.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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