After an injury to Boston first baseman Hanley Ramirez after Tuesday’s game in Seattle, Red Sox fans immediately began rumors that toe club would call up Yoan Moncada, the No. 1 rated prospect in the organization’s minor league system — but the team appears to be in no hurry to add the 21-year-old Cuban import to the big league roster.
The rumors were likely sparked by the call-up on Tuesday or the second-raked Red Sox prospect, Andrew Benintendi, the top 2015 draft pick for the Red Sox who joined the club in Seattle and made his first Major League start on Wednesday — even recording his first big league hit in the game.
— Yoan Moncada (@ymoncada19) July 23, 2016
Moncada, as an international player, was not part of baseball’s amateur draft, instead signing a contract with a whopping $31.5 million signing bonus with the Red Sox at the age of 19 in February of 2015, after spending nearly a year in Guatemala following his departure from Cuba.
Both Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada were the subject of intense trade speculation prior to the August 1 deadline, reportedly requested by a number of teams including the Chicago White Sox as the Red Sox explored trading for Chicago ace Chris Sale.
In the following video, Boston President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski explains why he refused to let either Benintendi or Moncada go in a trade.
More rumors about Moncada gained momentum after he was mysteriously scratched from Tuesday’s game with his current team, the Red Sox Double A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. The team announced that Moncada was taking a “scheduled day off,” even though Portland had an off day on Monday, and Moncada had originally been penciled into the lineup.
Though he has played mostly second base in his so-far brief but meteoric minor league career in the Red Sox system, Moncada has reportedly been working out at third base prior to Portland games — with third base a weak spot for the Boston offense in the 2016 season.
Since July 8, the Red Sox third base platoon combination of Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw have only 19 hits in 99 at-bats between them — a combined 0.194 average.
Though he has yet to play the position in professional ball in the United States, Yoan Moncada says that he played third base for two years with his Cuban club, Cienfuegos.
“Right now, it’s like riding a bike,” Moncada told WEEI reporter Rob Bradford this week, asked about the possibility of moving to third.
Ramirez, a former shortstop who now plays first base for the Red Sox, is reported to have tripped on a flight of stairs following Tuesday’s heartbreaking 5-4 loss in Seattle. He injured his wrist as he attempted to break his fall and was taken for x-rays.
But though Ramirez was not in the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday, there was no report on what sort of injury he suffered, or how severe it might have been.
— Zesty Red Sox News (@zesty_redsox) August 4, 2016
According to Ben Buchanan of the Over The Monster Red Sox blog, however, simply because Boston promoted Benintendi directly from the Double-A level after just 13 months in the Red Sox system, they wouldn’t necessarily make the same move with Moncada.
“Benintendi is the more polished of the two both at the plate and in the field. Moncada has the higher upside, but there have certainly been some contact issues (he’s already over 100 strikeouts on the year). And has barely started work at third after spending the season at second as the Red Sox worked to get him a solid base at one position before shifting him elsewhere.”
Asked about the possibility of promoting Yoan Moncada to the Boston club to fill the third base position, Red Sox General Manager Mike Hazen would not rule it out.
“I’m not going to guess on that,” Hazen told The Boston Herald. “I don’t know. He’s a really good player. We’re lucky to have him. Time is going to tell. I don’t think a month ago we anticipated Andrew (Benintendi) being here. Need is part of it, yes, and it’s also performance pushing the envelope to the point that we feel he’s going to be a solid contributor.”
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Yoan Moncada has played 32 games with Portland in the Boston system since the Red Sox promoted him there earlier this season, batting 0.289 with a.931 OPS and eight home runs — striking out 44 times against only 15 walks — in 144 plate appearances.
[Photo By Brynn Anderson/AP Images]