Chicago White Sox: What to Expect from Yoan Moncada in 2017

As the key piece going to Chicago in the Chris Sale trade, can we expect Yoan Moncada to debut with the White Sox sometime in 2017?

When five-time All-Star Chris Sale was traded by the White Sox on December 6, the reverberations around baseball could be felt. Sale was dealt to Boston for Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz, Luis Basabe and Yoan Moncada..

With the beginning of Spring Training having already commenced, the Sale-for-four-top-prospects deal was unquestionably the biggest move of the offseason.

The catalyst in making the deal happen was in Chicago receiving 21-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada. But what short-term dividends can the South-Siders expect this season?

The dynamic young Moncada, who was signed by Boston in February of 2015, is currently listed as the second-best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com’s 2017 prospect rankings. With his number of at-bats in the minor leagues lacking, the overall consensus of opinion would assume that Moncada will start in Charlotte, the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate this season.

Making that decision may not be easy for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, but several signs have already strongly indicated that Moncada will not be in the starting lineup on April 3, when the White Sox open against the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox brought back fiery second basemen Brett Lawrie with a one-year deal. The team has also yet to move slugger Todd Frazier. Both are at positions where Moncada appears to be a possible long-term commodity.

Both players have been brought back to the squad in what appear to be purely stop-gap moves, potentially until the organization finds that Moncada is ready.

The White Sox decided late last season as an organization to re-build. This was something that they had not done since before the start of this young century. Fangraphs projections have the White Sox finishing with the worst record in the American League. Only the Padres finish worse overall, and the Brewers tie them with 69 wins.

The White Sox could be two or three years from the position of competing for AL Central titles. So the rush to bring Moncada or any of the other young prospects up is not there.

Per CBS Chicago, Rick Hahn even went on to state regarding the young slugger:

“He’s not a finished product . . . He’s still extremely young. He has already played at the upper minors but hasn’t spent any time at Triple-A, had only a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues. I would expect him to start at Charlotte.”

Another big factor is the hot-button issue that came into the spotlight early in the 2015 MLB season. Kris Bryant and the questions regarding the Cubs keeping him in the minors because of service time concerns came to the forefront.

While Moncada may not have the immediate success that Bryant had as a rookie, the White Sox are hoping that he is the “Robinson Cano with speed” that some scouts have described him as. If that is the case, the team will want to control him for as long as possible.

When Moncada does come up potentially sometime in May, it can be assumed that he will have the opportunity to hit in front of the likes of Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier (if he is not traded by then). This would give Moncada ample opportunity to catch up on the AL Rookie of the Year race with expected candidates Andrew Benintendi and Houston’s Francis Martes.

The Red Sox will most certainly reap the rewards of getting Chris Sale during the Winter Meetings. The waiting game for the White Sox may not be easy in the early months of the season, but it may be worth it.

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