Red Sox: Yoan Moncada not switching positions

Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; World batter Yoan Moncada at bat in the 6th inning during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; World batter Yoan Moncada at bat in the 6th inning during the All Star Game futures baseball game at PetCo Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox GM Mike Hazen reveals why the team has no immediate plans to move top prospect Yoan Moncada to a new position.

Fans eager to see top prospect Yoan Moncada jump to the majors will need to be patient, as the Boston Red Sox aren’t preparing for his arrival at Fenway just yet.

The 21-year old is tearing up the minor leagues in his second season since coming over from Cuba. Moncada dominated at High-A Salem to begin the season and has been even better since his promotion to Double-A Portland, hitting .329 with a 1.098 OPS, 7 home runs and 7 steals through 21 games. To top it off, he was named MVP of the Futures Game during the All-Star festivities in San Diego last week. When his tantalizing talent is matched by this type of production, it leaves you to believe he is on the verge of getting called to the big leagues.

The Red Sox could use all the help they can get in the midst of a tight division race and Dave Dombrowski is no stranger to make a bold move, such as allowing a top prospect to skip Triple-A and jump straight from Portland to Boston. So how much longer do we have to wait to see this kid in The Show?

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Let’s pump the breaks for a minute. Before Moncada can make his way to Boston, the Red Sox actually need to find a place to put him. His spot at second base in currently occupied by Dustin Pedroia, the team’s veteran leader who is having a solid season and wouldn’t take kindly to a rookie carving into his playing time. Bring Moncada up too soon and he’ll be afforded limited and sporadic playing time. Sitting on the bench is no way for a young prospect of his caliber to develop, so his place is in the minor leagues until the Red Sox are ready for him.

Here’s the dilemma – the Red Sox have Pedroia locked up through 2021. He’ll be 37 years old in the final year of his contract and second basemen don’t typically last late into their 30’s, particularly ones that play as hard as Pedroia and have a lengthy injury history. Perhaps he won’t be an everyday player at the position until his contract is up, but we should expect him to man second base for the foreseeable future.

The Red Sox certainly aren’t going to wait five years to call up Moncada, so a position change seems to be the likely solution, right? That may ultimately have to happen, but the Red Sox aren’t preparing to move him off of second base anytime soon.

"“No, we want him to get comfortable at second base,” Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “He’s showing very well at second base right now. He’s developing at Double-A. We want him to go day in and day out, learn a position, master a position. We’ll tackle that as we need to.”"

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The Red Sox know the importance of being able to field your position at the big league level, so they want to continue to develop Moncada as a second basemen. The concern with having him switch positions now is that he still won’t have mastered second base and won’t have sufficient time to learn a new position if the intention was the rush him to the majors. The result would be that he ends up being mediocre at multiple positions instead of great at his primary spot.

There is also the risk that moving him to a different position could distract him from his development at the plate. His production this year suggests that his bat is already major league ready, but there is still much for the 21-year old to learn. A mid-season position change could negatively effect him at the plate, as we saw with Xander Bogaerts when the Red Sox tried shifting him to third base during his first full season in 2014.

Bogaerts got his first taste of big league action at the age of 20, while Mookie Betts soon followed when he was 21, the age Moncada is now. Given the way he’s hitting it would seem he is almost ready, but the Red Sox need to be cautious with their prized prospect. Perhaps we’ll see him in September after the minor league season has ended, negating the concerns of having him sit on the bench. He could occasionally spell Pedroia at second base to ensure the veteran is fresh for a hopeful playoff run, while Moncada’s speed would also make him a valuable pinch-runner off the bench.

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Just don’t expect him to have an everyday spot in the lineup this season. He may have the chance to get his feet wet with a late season audition, but that’s about it.

As for switching positions, it seems inevitable, but best to wait until after the season when he’ll have a full offseason and spring training to learn.