Yoan Moncada went from the top-ranked prospect in the game to a guy who struck out 217 times in his first full season in the majors. And now, he's once again the talk of the South Side.
Moncada is off to an excellent start, rebounding in impressive fashion from a disappointing 2018 campaign, one those strikeouts were just the most glaring part of. He also committed 21 errors at second base and had woeful numbers against left-handed pitching. But 2019 has been a complete 180. Through the season's first six games, he's slashing .458/.519/.875 with four doubles, a couple homers and a few clutch hits, the most recent the game-winning single to center in the seventh inning of Friday's home opener.
It's changed him from goat to GOAT in the minds of the fan base in an instant. But the White Sox aren't surprised.
"He has all the tools," fellow infielder Yolmer Sanchez said before Saturday's game against the Seattle Mariners. "I always say he’s going to be a superstar. He’s going to be in the All-Star Game. We know that he can do that and better than that."
"I'm hoping we're seeing the guy that everybody was expecting from the beginning, from the inception of acquiring him, and that he continues to grow," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's continued to mature, obviously, but I think that experience of being in the big leagues has helped a lot."
Last season, that was a common talking point, that struggles among the team's young major leaguers would benefit them down the road. Moncada went to work during the offseason, going to Arizona and trying to fix the things that led to those poor results in 2018. He had tremendous results during Cactus League play, and that's carried over into the regular season.
It's early, of course, but Moncada has rearranged expectations in the fan base. The standing ovation he received in his White Sox debut back in 2017 was replicated multiple times Friday.
Growing pains could once again pop up. Moncada has made the adjustments he needed to solve big league pitching, but those pitchers are expected to make their own adjustments in that endless game of cat and mouse. And there's further development to come at the hot corner, Moncada's new position for the 2019 season after spending the 2018 season at second base. While he's made some very nice plays there in the first handful of games this season, the work continues.
"The one thing that (bench coach Joe McEwing is) working on with him right now is keeping his feet moving and his throws to first," Renteria said. "Sometimes he has a tendency to get flat-footed, throw underneath, get under the ball a little bit and either short-arm it or pull balls. He's trying to have him stay behind the ball a little bit more. Other than that, everything else has been really, really good. Makes plays great laterally, coming forward, taking jab steps back. His reaction off the ball is quick, he's as good as anybody I've ever seen over there. So he'll be able to cover a lot of ground."
"He’s playing outstanding third base," said Sanchez, who was the White Sox everyday third baseman last season and has now taken Moncada's old spot at second. "He’s playing really good. I know he’s not going to have trouble at third. He’s a good athlete. He’s a good defensive player and he’s going to be good."
It remains to be seen whether these results continue over the course of a 162-game season for Moncada. In fact, if this hot start is anything, it's an example of why folks shouldn't overreact to one stretch or even one year.
But it could be a coming-out party the former No. 1 prospect in baseball was always destined to have, even if it took a year or two for him to get here.
Once again, just like that night in July 2017, the South Side is gaga over YoYo. Just know that the White Sox never stopped feeling that way.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.