Yoan Moncada’s time down near the bottom of the White Sox batting order came to a quick end this weekend. After just five games, Moncada returned to the top of the lineup for Friday’s game and was there again for Game 2 of the series with the visiting Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
It ended up being the “break” that manager Rick Renteria described it as, and the skipper, for one, believes that short stretch was beneficial to Moncada, who was struggling mightily when Renteria made that move last week.
Through the first 19 games of the second half, Moncada slashed .122/.250/.216 with three extra-base hits, four RBIs and 33 strikeouts. It was as noticeable a period of struggles at the plate as he’s had in his first full season in the majors, a campaign that has to this point failed to meet the big expectations the former No. 1 prospect in baseball carried with him into this season.
Renteria said that bumping Moncada down in the lineup would allow him to watch opposing pitchers face several other batters and remove the need to do certain things that come with batting leadoff.
For what it’s worth, Moncada got four hits — two of them for extra bases and one a home run — and walked twice in 18 plate appearances over the five games against the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. He struck out nine times. Friday, he returned to the leadoff spot and went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored (and no strikeouts).
“When we put him down in the bottom of the lineup, it’s because I wanted to have him see other players have multiple at-bats over the course of a couple of games,” Renteria said Saturday. “When you’re leading off, you have a chance of either working very well, working on base, getting your hits, whatever the case might be. But if it’s not working out, you start to get a little frustrated. You’re still grinding through it.
“The perspective that I’m giving him is, ‘Hey, listen, no matter who I put in there, they also make outs. Sometimes they don’t get on. Understand it’s just not you. It’s a difficult position in which you lead off the ballgame.’ I just wanted him to take a breath, take a step back, look at it, and then make an adjustment, allow him to get back into that situation.”
While the numbers from that five-game stretch aren’t enough to determine whether this is the start of a second-half turnaround for Moncada, Renteria said he did believe the experience to be a beneficial one for his second baseman.
“I thought it was beneficial,” he said. “I didn’t necessarily have this conversation to say, ‘Hey, did it work out for you for the last few days?’ Nothing like that. But as you’re talking to him, just in passing, as you go through conversations and you see where they’re at, hopefully we’re making the right decision and the right adjustments for them.”
Moncada still owns a .149 batting average in the second half. He’s on pace to strike out 235 times this season, which would be a new single-season major league record.
But this rebuilding season was always going to be about developmental growing pains. And the idea is that the experiences he’s going through now will pay dividends down the road, when the White Sox shift from rebuilding to contending and Moncada, the hope is, shifts from the developmental stage to the superstar stage.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.
School: Nazareth Academy
Head coach: Tim Racki
Assistant coaches: Casey Moran, Joe Reynolds, Rudy Luna, Brody Budmayr, Jeff Tumpane, Joe Battaglia, Steve Gray, Tom Minogue, Matt Letcher, Larry White, Jonathon Bittle, Joe Felice
How they fared in 2017: 12-2 (6-1 East Suburban Catholic Conference), Nazareth Academy made the 2017 Class 6A state playoff field, defeated Springfield, Danville, Sacred Heart Griffin and Providence Catholic before losing to Prairie Ridge in the 6A state title game.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 vs. Lutheran North (Mo.)
Aug. 31 @ Lake Zurich
Sept. 7 @ Marian Central Catholic
Sept. 14 vs. St. Patrick
Sept. 21 @ Benet Academy
Sept. 28 @ Carmel
Oct. 5 vs. Marist
Oct. 12 vs. Joliet Catholic
Oct. 19 @ Marian Catholic
Biggest storyline: Can the Road Runners move up a class to 7A and win a state title in 2018?
Names to watch this season: RB/DB Devin Blakley (Miami of Ohio), WR/DB Michael Love (Bowling Green)
Biggest holes to fill: The Roadrunners welcome back 16 returning starters (7 offense, 9 defense) from last year's Class 6A state title runner-up team, yet more depth will be needed playing "up" in 7A this playoff season.
EDGY's Early Take: The Roadrunners and head coach Tim Racki (who will be playing up in Class 7A this year due to the IHSA Success Factor rule) came up just short in winning the Class 6A state title in 2017 and the 2018 Roadrunners bring back nearly every key player from that squad this fall. The offense will need to settle on a starting quarterback (including D1 recruit sophomore QB JJ McCarthy) while the offensive skills group is a major strength this fall. The Nazareth Academy defense is also loaded and senior DB/WR Diamond Evans along with senior DT Cameron Leach are just names among several others who are expected to make a major impact this season. If the Roadrunners offense can settle in under a new quarterback this team has the potential to win a state title in Class 7A.