By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — After Yoan Moncada struggled mightily in his debut stint in the big leagues last September with the Red Sox, going 4-of-19 and striking out 12 times, some wondered how he’d fare now in his rookie season with the White Sox.
Nearly a month in, the 22-year-old Moncada is showing this is where he belongs.
While his batting average is .215, Moncada has impressed with his plate approach, adjusting well to 98-mph fastballs and wicked breaking balls thrown his way more consistently. On Thursday night, Moncada had the game-tying homer in the ninth inning and then the game-winning single in the 11th in a 3-2 victory against the Astros, his first shining moment with the White Sox.
It was a glimpse of his ability and continued his solid recent streak, as he’s hitting .370 with a 1.033 OPS in eight games this month. It came after Moncada started 4-of-40 in his White Sox career.
Moncada has been hard at work on all areas of his game. The White Sox coaching staff has had him and other young infielders and outfielders working in drills prior to batting practice four of five times a week. These activities take place about 90 minutes before conventional BP takes place at 4:20 p.m. before home games.
So far, Moncada has been like a sponge soaking up the work and verbal instructions passed on by the coaching staff.
“Doing our work and then going out and sweeping a team like the Astros enhances our confidence,” Moncada said. “These things make us feel more comfortable with ourselves and our talent.”
The directive from the organization is to treat all the players equally in their player development model. With the No. 1 prospect label coming into this season, Moncada still had to check all the boxes for White Sox executives Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams before he was elevated to the 25-man roster.
“We have had a great time learning each other on the field,” middle infield partner Tim Anderson said. “The fact that he speaks some English and is getting better at it helps the transition for both of us. Off the diamond, he is just a fun and energetic person the same way he is on the field. We should be able to do some damage around here in the coming years. I see in the next two or three years that our organization can be in a special place, and Yoan and I should be a part of that.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.