BOSTON — When it comes to Red Sox prospects, a four-game series with the White Sox that started Thursday at Fenway Park will highlight two: the one who got away and the one who stayed.
Except, if we’re being fair, it’s a big stretch to say Yoan Moncada got away. He was dealt as part of a package for a pitcher angling toward a Cy Young award, Chris Sale.
But Moncada’s not exactly going to be forgotten by the fan base, even as Rafael Devers thrives for the Red Sox.
“I feel happy for [Devers] because I know that he’s a very good player and I really believe that he’s going to have a very long career in the majors because he’s a very, very talented player,” Moncada said Thursday through a translator. “I’m just happy for him to have that experience.”
A second baseman now rather than a third baseman, Moncada batted cleanup for the White Sox on Thursday at Fenway Park — the third time in his still young big league career he’s batted fourth. (He’s hit everywhere but first and ninth.)
Last season, Moncada was the Sox starting third baseman for about eight minutes, going 4-for-19 (.211) and striking out 12 times compared to just one walk. A promotion straight from Double-A just didn’t work out as it did for Andrew Benintendi.
“Last year, I wasn’t expecting to play in the majors,” Moncada said through a translator. “When they called me up, I was happy because of course, that’s what every ballplayer wants, but I think I wasn’t ready. This year, I know my role. I know that I’m going to be playing every day. That’s something that, because I have that experience last year, that’s something that made me feel more comfortable and I think I’m more prepared for this opportunity.”
Asked to elaborate on what he meant when he said he wasn’t ready, Moncada hedged on the speed of his promotion — which seems a matter of semantics more than anything else.
“It is not that I wasn’t ready,” Moncada said. “It’s like it was too fast for me. I was playing in the minors and then suddenly I was in the majors. That was really fast for me. But probably the things didn’t go well at that time and that created or made it a bigger issue. But it wasn’t like I wasn’t ready for that. It’s just that it was too fast for me.”
Perhaps the point is this: Moncada felt he could have handled it if he had more time to adjust, that he was physically ready. Either way, he’s getting his chance now, although his time in the majors this season hasn’t seen him take off either. He was 4-for-38 (.105) in 12 games entering Thursday, with one home run, 16 strikeouts and six walks.
“I wasn't expecting to be traded when the team traded me but it was a good opportunity for me,” Moncada said. “Now I'm on this team, and I think that was the best for me and my career, I'm just glad that it happened.
“I learned a lot from the veteran players like [David] Ortiz. They taught me how to play at this level, how to make adjustments. At this level, it's a process for young people like me. I took all that advice and it helped me.”