Yoan Moncada could have mentally taken himself out of Friday’s game in the third inning.
The White Sox prized prospect booted a routine groundball in the frame, contributing to a long, damaging Royals rally. A few singles, a Tim Anderson error and five runs later, it seemed as if the inning would never end on the South Side.
Mercifully, the Sox were finally able to return to their dugout because Moncada refocused and refused to allow one physical error to compound.
The skilled second baseman ranged up the middle to scoop a hard-hit Brandon Moss grounder, preventing any further damage. One inning later, he pummeled a two-run blast to center to give the White Sox the lead for good.
It’s that type of short-term memory that has impressed the Sox in his first major league showing with the club.
"I don't think he consumes himself too much in the mistake,” Rick Renteria said after the 7-6 win. “Maybe he's just thinking about what he's trying to do the next time."
Moncada’s quite polished for a 22-year-old infielder who hasn’t even played a full season in the majors. His athletic ability allows him to make the highlight-reel plays frequently, so now it's about continuing to work on his fundamentals.
“He's really improved significantly since he's gotten here,” Renteria said. “Not trying to be too flashy. The great plays that he makes just take care of themselves. He's got tremendous ability.”
Since being called up, Moncada has added value to what is the arguably the best second base fielding team in the MLB. Although no defensive metric is perfect, between Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez, the White Sox second basemen lead the league with 19 defensive runs saved above average. The Pirates have the next highest amount of runs saved by second basemen with 10, according to Baseball-Reference.
With the enormous range, though, comes the inexperience. In just 46 games, Moncada has tallied eight errors.
"It happens to the best of them," Renteria said. "He's one of the young men, along with (Anderson) and even (Jose Abreu), who are looking to improve a particular skill, which is defending."
It serves as a reminder that the likely infield of the future still has a ways to go.