By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — A new era in Chicago White Sox history begins Wednesday with infielder and top prospect Yoan Moncada being called up from Triple-A. The big trades that preceded Moncada’s arrival were part of the overall plan to clear the decks of veterans and usher in this new poster child for the rebuild.
With the young Cuban leading the way, this organizational shift that began last July for the White Sox now does resemble what the Cubs did from 2011 until their playoff run in 2015. The man in the dugout for the Cubs in 2014 was current White Sox manager Rick Renteria. In his lone season as Cubs manager, Renteria had the mandate to help budding stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro bounce back from bad seasons and develop into leaders of the future.
Now, Renteria has a similar charge from his White Sox bosses — turn Moncada into a star in Chicago.
“It is just the first step of a long process,” Renteria said as he welcomed Moncada aboard. “We are happy to have him here. I think this is a beginning of a transition from the youth we have accumulated in the system. We know there are some high expectations. He will continue to evolve as a player. He will have his ups and downs. Hopefully, we can allow him to find a path to who he really is. We hope to help when we can and also get out of his way at the same time.”
Moncada had 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox late in the 2016 season, and he struck out 12 times. This time around, the 22-year-old Moncada has another three months of Triple-A experience as a foundation in his first real chance to start every day.
“I am happy to be here,” Moncada said. “This is my opportunity to play in the big leagues. This is where I want to be. I learned you have to be consistent. You must find a consistent approach. The other part is you have to try to enjoy the game.”
The rap on Moncada was that while his offense was maturing, his defense at second base still left something to be desired.
“I have been working on everything,” Moncada said. “My defense, in particular, I feel very good about right now.”
Fellow Cuban defector and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu will have a locker next to Moncada’s. He will watch over his young teammate on and off the field. Abreu picked up his friend at the airport Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the White Sox are sure this is the time for Moncada to shine.
“We are not bringing Yoan here to sit,” general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “We brought him here to continue the development that needs to take place in Chicago. He is young, but we feel he is ready for that next challenge. There will be growing pains here. He is not a finished product. The feeling is it is time for Yoan to take that next step.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.