By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Yoan Moncada, the top prospect in baseball, will arrive on the South Side on Wednesday for his much-anticipated debut in a White Sox uniform.
General manager Rick Hahn joked late Tuesday night that he buried the lede by first unveiling the major seven-player trade between his White Sox and Yankees while leaving out the important Moncada detail. But you can excuse the architect of a rebuild that now has 10 of the top 68 prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com.
The 22-year-old Moncada is the best of the bunch. He’s considered to be a five-tool talent and should spend the remainder of this 2017 season establishing himself at second base.
Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs wrote in a scouting report last September that Moncada has “tools so deafeningly loud that it may be a while before we hear the echoes of his historical significance.” Three months after that major league debut with the Red Sox, Moncada was traded to the White Sox in a blockbuster deal that sent ace Chris Sale to Boston.
Naturally, Hahn isn’t speaking in grandiose terms to project Moncada’s future with the White Sox. That belief is well-known, stated clearly in a trade that brought in the top prospect in baseball while sending out an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Trades like that don’t happen too often. The White Sox were prepared to embark on their rebuild, and the Red Sox were looking for an elite arm for their rotation. The swap — one which also included the flame-throwing Michael Kopech and two others — transformed the future of the White Sox and present of the Red Sox.
A key part of that White Sox future is set to arrive Wednesday with Moncada certain to be slotted in starting at second base against the Dodgers.
“We’re bringing him here to continue the development that needs to take place in Chicago,” Hahn said. “He still has some work to do. He’s still very young. But we feel he’s ready for that next challenge that comes at the big league level.”
Moncada is hitting .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs this season in 80 games this season with Triple-A Charlotte. He missed time earlier in 2017 with a thumb injury and struggled coming off the disabled list. However, Moncada has again looked like himself.
While Hahn and other executives in baseball refrain from making comparisons, scouts have viewed Moncada as a talent that compares to Robinson Cano. His presence with the White Sox could be transformational. He’s joining quite the cast, too.
The White Sox added 20-year-old outfielder Blake Rutherford in Tuesday’s trade with the Yankees that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to New York. Rutherford is the 30th-ranked prospect on MLB.com, joining the likes of Moncada, Kopech, Luis Robert, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and more. The list has continued to grow as the White Sox keep stockpiling young talents.
While this 2017 season heads closer to a top-three draft pick next spring, all eyes will be on Moncada. There will surely be a buzz within the ballpark as the future of this White Sox organization steps foot on the field for the first time. More names will be coming, too. This is only the beginning.
But temper that excitement with an important reminder from Hahn. This is just part of the development process for Moncada.
“There’s going to be growing pains here,” Hahn said. “He’s not a finished product. I don’t suspect any of these players, as they make their debut here in the coming months and years — despite how highly anticipated they may be — there’s still going to be an element of development that comes here in Chicago. It’s time for Yoan to get that opportunity to take that next step.”