This is one of the ones we’ve awaited and anticipated the most, the lovely Moncada Butterfly spreads it’s wings tonight in Oakland (and ribbed a double for his first hit).
As always, Baseball Prospectus has more.
Scouting Report: Moncada is one of the most physically blessed players in all of baseball. His physique is such that he should beware the attack of a wild boar sent by his enemies. He’s a high-end 70 runner that stole 94 bases over just 187 minor league games, at an astoundingly high 86.2 percent clip. His raw power is an easy plus. His arm strength is plus-plus, although it plays down in game situations due to accuracy and mechanics. It all looks and feels right for a five-tool major league package.
From the left side of the plate, Moncada takes mighty swings from a slightly open stance and generates extreme bat speed. It’s a gorgeous-looking swing, and he hits the ball with authority to all fields. The downside is that there’s considerable swing-and-miss because he’s taking such a vicious hack, but it is controlled violence, as he barrels the ball a lot and that might be an acceptable trade-off for his game. As Moncada saw better pitching in Double-A, his strikeout rate rose to over 30 percent. As noted above, his raw power is an easy plus, and he’s been actualizing it into game power more at the Double-A level than in A-ball; his overall offensive performance was slightly better in Portland than at the lower levels. From the right side of the plate, Moncada will shorten up a bit, giving back some of the bat speed for the ability to more consistently pull the ball to the left side. He has looked like a considerably improved hitter with his right-handed swing in 2016 compared to 2015 looks, but it’s actually produced worse splits, albeit in small sample sizes. His speed gives him the ability to beat out anything slightly more difficult than the routine grounder to that side of the infield. If there’s a small nit to pick here, it’s that he’ll sometimes get off-balance while swinging, leaving his swing with an unfinished look and generating weak contact while hindering his ability to get out of the box quickly.
Adding to the offensive profile, Moncada’s plate approach is unusually advanced for his age and background. He has a very good idea of which pitches he wants to swing at and which pitches he doesn’t, and has posted commensurate high walk rates at all levels. If anything, he might be a bit too passive sometimes; something to watch for is if Moncada starts taking too many borderline called third strikes against major league pitchers that can often put the ball right on the black. Overall, he’s a very smart and heady player that has repeatedly made quick adjustments throughout the minor leagues.
The major question for Moncada moving forward is his defensive home. He played all over the diamond in Cuba, including second, third, short, and center. The Red Sox decided to play him exclusively at second base until just a few weeks ago, a somewhat curious decision given that Dustin Pedroia appears entrenched there through 2021 and has already forced Mookie Betts to the outfield. Moncada’s glove at second was fine, but nothing special given his outstanding physical tools. In preparation for this call-up, the Red Sox started playing him at third in mid-August. Reports on his defensive abilities at third have varied wildly in that short period of time, as you might expect for a talented player’s first professional exposure to the position. His arm and range should match well with the position, but as Boston manager John Farrell recently noted, Moncada needs repetitions to improve his fundamentals and technique. If he can’t stick at third, he’d likely ultimately end up in the crowded Boston outfield picture.
Five tools. Stealing bags at an 85% clip. Some pop. Position versatility. Moncada checks all the boxes, and plays for the team in Beantown.
This is going to be exciting as all-Hell. Yoan Moncada is part of the fraternity. He’s going to be on video games next year. It’s going to be a good ride.
Update: Here’s Moncada’s first MLB hit, with the football field lines on the Oakland Coliseum field. Which is classy.