Back Forum New

Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesNot so

long ago Randy Johnson Jersey , Yoan Moncada was MLB's next big thing.Now, with the 2019 exhibition slate about to commence, the Chicago White Sox infielder needs to prove he isn't the next big bust.Last season was rough for Moncada, and that's stating it kindly. He struck out 217 timesore than any other hitter (or, more accurately, more than any other swinger).He led all second basemen with 21 errors and frequently appeared inept in the field despite his athleticism and five-tool potential.He hit .235 with a .315 on-base percentage in 149 games, which is...let's check the math...not great.Even his teammate and fellow Cuban, Jose Abreu, sounded a cautionary note."I think sometimes you talk and you create a bigger expectation, and that can create something that is not accurate," Abreu said through an interpreter, per Steve Greenberg of theChicago Sun-Times. "But we all know the talent that he has."Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesMoncada is undeniably talented. He's tantalized the baseball world with 30-30 potential since the Boston Red Sox signed him on the international market at age 19 to a $63 million deal in February 2015.That's a lot of coin to commit to an unproven teenager, but it seemed like a wise idea given his pedigree.The Red Sox made good on their money in December 2016 by turning Moncada, fireballer Michael Kopech (who will miss 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery) and two other prospects into Chris Sale.At the time, the ChiSox were trading an ace with three years remaining on an affordable, team-friendly contract.Sale helped the Red Sox win a title in 2018. Moncada has been an enigma with increasingly troubling, bust-evoking tendencies for Chicago.Yeah...we uttered the "b" word. Now, for the caveat: Moncada is 23 years old. It's too early to apply that label A. J. Pollock Jersey , drop the proverbial mic and walk away.A lot of intriguing players his age (and older) have yet to play a full MLB season or even sip a cup of coffee at the highest level.Yet, Moncada was supposed to be on the fast track, a nascent star who would lead the White Sox's budding rebuild.Instead, he collected K's like they were going out of style, failed to get on base at anything approaching a decent clip, didn't flash eye-opening power and kicked the ball around the field like he was playing in the Premier League.Was it the burden of being a touted blue chip? Did he succumb to the pressure of expectations?Nope, if you ask him.David Maxwell/Getty Images"The weight didn't affect me last year, the weight of being the top prospect," Moncada said, per Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune. "I just don't think that affected me at all. I think that this year is going to be a much better year, and I'm just ready for it."Give the young man points for optimism. Allow for the possibility he'll shine in 2019.Remember, however, there are footsteps behind him. The White Sox have other impressive players rising through their system, including outfielder Eloy Jimenez. Moncada could be squeezed out of an infield depth chartthat features shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Yolmer Sanchez.The White Sox'spersistent linkage to superstar infielder and free agent Manny Machado doesn't indicate a highdegree of faith in Moncada. At least, it suggests Chicago is keeping itsoptions wide open.No prospect enjoys too much time in the limelight.Either he seizes it, or it's gone. Poof. The numbers come or they don't. The promisematerializes...or it doesn't.Moncada is officially no longer the next big thing. Now, he's at risk of becoming the next big bust.Things can change in an instant. All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference. LAS VEGAS (AP) — Here along the Strip, the Boston Red Sox are placing their bets on a new leadoff man.AL MVP Mookie Betts will hit second next year , a season after he led the big leagues in batting average and slugging percentage from the top spot.Andrew Benintendi will move up a slot and hit first for the majors’ highest-scoring team, manager Alex Cora said Tuesday at the winter meetings.“I think we’re going to maximize Mookie in a different spot. Flip-flop them, Beni leading off and Mookie hitting second. Talked to him, it makes sense,” Cora said.“You guys saw what happened towards the end of the season, he became very passive again,” he said. “And it’s not that I don’t like that, I know what type of hitter he is. But I think doing that, Beni can be aggressive. … He’s a good runner. He gets on base, and I put it this way to Mookie. And I know Beni’s OK with it. But if you play 162 games, you’re going to come up 162 at-bats with nobody on.”Betts topped the majors in batting (.346) and slugging percentage (.640) and was second in on-base average (.438) for the 108-win Red Sox. He also had 84 extra-base hits, including 32 home runs, and stole 30 bases.“Last year, what I wanted from him in the leadoff spot, we accomplished. It’s a different season and we have to make adjustments, and that’s where we’re going to go,” Cora said.Benintendi hit .290 with 16 homers, 87 RBIs and a .366 on-base average.Cora actually is hoping someone else bats leadoff when the Red Sox open next season on March 28 at Seattle — that would be Dustin Pedroia.The longtime Red Sox star was limited to only three games last season because of lingering knee problems. As a tribute Shelby Miller Jersey , Cora would love to put Pedroia in the top spot, where he’s occasionally hit over the years, on that first day against the Mariners.The 35-year-old Pedroia has been working out, trying to get back on the field.“I’m looking forward for him to lead off that game. That’s the only time. I told the guys, if Pedey is going to play, if he’s ready for opening day, he’ll lead off that day. He deserves that,” Cora said.“He’s a huge part of this organization. What he did last year, think about it, man, like he didn’t play, but he was there. He was there for them the whole time. And there were a lot of conversations in the cage, in the dugout, in the clubhouse, that he was a part of it,” he said.

Bookmark and Share

Back Forum