Nobody likes to be disappointed.
It’s easy to have high expectations for such a highly touted prospect who was the centerpiece in one of the most influential trades in team history. Those expectations are completely appropriate. Yoan Moncada was the hottest international player when he left Cuba in 2015 for a huge payday. He then climbed prospect rankings during his time in Boston’s system. This lead to high expectations, but he’s still just a kid and he hasn’t seen that much major league action.
Disclaimer: this paragraph is by no means a comparison, but is perhaps a good reminder. It took Mike Trout a rough forty game “trial run” in 2011 before he broke out in 2012. Trout finished 2011 with a .220/.281/.390 slash, and he’s a freakish phenom of a ballplayer. Yoan Moncada is not Mike Trout, and statistically speaking, he doesn’t have much of a chance to ever compare to Trout. However, Moncada still looks like a star in the making. He owns a career .221/.310/.392 slash, and considering he’s not Mike Trout, his development is likely a little slower. He’s still in his “trial run,” and that’s okay.
White Sox fans should be patient. Yoan Moncada certainly is.
The biggest gripe I hear regarding Yoan Moncada is the strikeouts. I hear it from my dad, I hear it on the radio, and I read it in blogs. Trust me, the strikeouts drive me crazy, too. Especially when Moncada’s gift of patience functions as a curse. Striking out swinging can be terribly frustrating, but when they seem to come looking 99% of the time, it’s even worse. But, he strikes out looking so much because he has a tremendously good eye.
According to Statcast, Yoan Moncada sits 17th in the majors with 404 called strikes of the 2,082 pitches he has seen. That means 19.4% of pitches thrown to him have been called strikes. It’s not the tippy-top of the league, but it’s amongst the league leaders as well. That is not an easy situation for a young player trying to figure things out. You can bet that contributes mightily to his league-leading strikeout numbers. The fact that his OBP continues to sit almost one hundred points above his average is a great sign. The eye is clearly there, even with some bad luck in the called strike department. Once the bat truly comes around, watch out!
Chicago has seen this before.
It wasn’t long ago that Cubs fans were wringing their hands over the struggles of none other than their current prized possession, Javier Baez. Remember when he struggled so badly he was a benchwarmer and had to fight to stay in the majors? Yeah, it was only a few years ago, you know, when he was in his early 20s. Now, he’s one of the most exciting players to watch not only in Chicago, but in The Show. Perhaps Yoan Moncada needs to get benched or sent down to Charlotte. Or, perhaps he needs to learn on the fly and stay in the lineup, grinding it out until he finds sustained success.
Overall, it’s been ugly, but the flashes of brilliance have been there. Remember, he’s only a few years removed from the Cuban league, and his time in the minors was relatively short. Not everyone puts it together right away! Besides, even if Yoan Moncada isn’t the future MVP we all hoped for, he will almost definitely be a cornerstone of the next contending team. Plus, Rick Hahn finally showed a willingness to bring up more young studs. Michael Kopech makes his major league debut tonight and Leury Garcia exited last night’s game, perhaps opening a spot for that Eloy Jimenez dude to get the call, too. Be happy!