MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

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MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be running these power rankings -- but since the regular season gets underway in earnest this week, we're rolling out our pre-season power rankings today. Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Tony
JJComments1
Tony: Not sold on them, but can't deny talent on paper.
JJ: No change at the top of AL from last two years.
2
Tony: Are Pujols, CJ enough to put them over the top?
JJ: Dan Haren's the best starter this team has.
3
Tony: Two WS runner-ups, can they finally win one in '12?
JJ: Better hope Pineda's okay.
4
Tony: Would be higher if Utley, Howard were healthy.
JJ: Rotation's easily still good enough to win the division.
5
Tony: Great lineup, but rotation questions.
JJ: Great offense, good pitching, laughable defense.
6
Tony: Love the upstart Rays and the underrated offseason moves.
JJ: Talent is there, can Bobby V bring it together?
7
Tony: Don't see a collapse in their future with second wild card.
JJ: Wainwright, Beltran should offset loss of Pujols.
8
Tony: Return of Posey will give offense huge boost.
JJ: Unreal amount of talent in this starting rotation.
9
Tony: Betting they learned from last year's epic collapse.
JJ: Gallardo, Greinke are a fearsome 1-2.
10
Tony: Great rotation, have full season of Braun.
JJ: If Josh Johnson stays healthy, playoffs seem likely.
11
Tony: Young, improving but won't sneak up on anybody anymore.
JJ: Don't sleep on Justin Upton as an MVP candidate.
12
Tony: Wainwright return is huge, Beltran helps with Pujols loss.
JJ: Should be part of a fun NL East battle.
13
Tony: Getting there, but can they put it all together in '12?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Matt Cain.
14
Tony: Up-and-coming, will challenge for 2nd wild card.
JJ: Things'll get interesting when Bryce Harper gets called up.
15
Tony: Will be a great drama, but good enough for postseason?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Joey Votto.
16
Tony: Future is very bright, but 2012 may not be it yet.
JJ: Tough to see them challenging Detroit. Solidly mediocre.
17
Tony: Can't even count them out, especially late in seasons.
JJ: Get on the Adam Dunn bandwagon while there's still room.
18
Tony: Is this the year they put together a winning season?
JJ: Hope Moyer can stay in rotation for as long as possible.
19
Tony: Second best team in AL Central, still not a "good" team.
JJ: Not enough pitching, but Brandon Morrow could be great.
20
Tony: BeckhamDunnRios rebound, but not drastically.
JJ: Team is meh, but Vin Scully makes them worth watching.
21
Tony: Magic's ownership will help turn club around.
JJ: Underrated in fairly-weak NL West.
22
Tony: Could be a Top 10 team...in two or three years.
JJ: Still a few starters away. Offense will score plenty of runs.
23
Tony: Wish I could rank them higher than Ryno's .
JJ: Jason Bay's situation pretty much sums up this team.
24
Tony: Season hinges on effectiveness of Mauer, Morneau, Liriano.
JJ: Bet they wish they never traded Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps.
25
Tony: Nope. Not even with the return of Santana.
JJ: Interested to see how Samardzija fares in the rotation.
26
Tony: Great farm system, not so great Major-league team.
JJ: Andrew McCutchen is a star; not much beyond him.
27
Tony: Montero, Ackley enough to score this team runs?
JJ: I want access to Bartolo Colon's magic pixie dust.
28
Tony: Will be a long year out in Cali.
JJ: Another sad year in a great baseball city.
29
Tony: A lot hinges on the young, inexperienced pitchers.
JJ: Let's just agree to enjoy the last few years of Ichiro's career.
30
Tony: Could challenge for worst record in MLB history.
JJ: Quick! Name five players on the Astros. Most can't.

Road Ahead: White Sox face another struggling offense in the Royals

Road Ahead: White Sox face another struggling offense in the Royals

The White Sox have scored the second fewest runs in the American League while the Royals have scored the fewest.

So fans of offense may not find the three-game series between the White Sox and Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Sox have scored 55 runs in 17 games while the Royals have 46 runs in 18 games.

Dan Hayes and Siera Santos talk about what to expect from that series and give updates on Carlos Rodon's injury and timeline for his return and talk about when Yoan Moncada may get promoted from the minors.

Watch the video above to see those topics in the Honda Road Ahead.

Fun and fluid: Drill sharpens White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada's defensive skills

Fun and fluid: Drill sharpens White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada's defensive skills

All the tools Yoan Moncada needs to be a good defensive second baseman are already in place. He just needs to learn how to access them more quickly and effectively.

Tapping into those elite abilities is a critical part of the development plan the White Sox have in place for their super prospect, who is currently the top-ranked minor leaguer in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com.

One way the White Sox have tried to unlock Moncada's gifts is by having him participate in a simple batting practice drill designed to enhance his fun and fluidity. The impact of the exercise could be seen Friday night when Moncada --- who also had two hits --- made a pair of outstanding turns on double plays for Triple-A Charlotte and also threw out another runner from deep in the hole.

"Since Day 1 he's gotten better," White Sox player development director Chris Getz said. "He's just another kid that needs to get the reps. He's into it, he's engaged and plays with energy.

"He's a solid defender and put that together with the offensive package and he's got a chance to be a very impactful player at the major league level."

The offensive potential has consistently been on display since the middle of March when Moncada's bat took off. Moncada has an .899 OPS in 68 plate appearances at Triple-A Charlotte, including four home runs, after he produced a 1.074 OPS this spring. 

"I'm glad he's on our team," Charlotte pitcher Carson Fulmer said.

While the White Sox would love to see a reduction in Moncada's strikeout rate, there's as much of an emphasis on helping him refine his defense. Some analysts and scouts question whether or not Moncada can stick at second base or if he'd eventually need to move to the outfield. But that possibility isn't close to a consideration right now for the White Sox, who think it's simply a matter of repetitions and time needed to clean up Moncada's process.

They've worked with him specifically on being more aggressive to the ball and taking better angles. But to kick his mind into another gear, bench coach Joe McEwing placed Moncada at shortstop during batting practice one day this spring. It's an exercise McEwing has previously used with first and third baseman to keep them more active.

"It was to get his feet moving and have a little fun doing it," McEwing said. "Sometimes at second base our feet can from time to time get stale and we sit back on more balls.

"We wanted to get him off the baseball once it's hit and to be aggressive and using his athletic ability to the maximum potential. He was smiling and jumping around and that's exactly what we want him to feel and do on the other side of the field. It's all the same. Angle may be different, but it's all the same mentally on how we want you to attack a baseball."

Moncada's manager at Charlotte, Mark Grudzielanek, has seen steady improvement from the second baseman. The White Sox like the progress Moncada has made and think more will come with age. Moncada turns 22 next month. Grudzielanek specifically likes how Moncada positioned himself at the bag on a pair of double plays on Friday, which allowed his strong arm to get behind his throws.

"We get him out there on the balls of his feet," Grudzielanek said. "We're tying to get his angles down a little bit. We're tightening him up with his throws. We're keeping him over the base at second base on the turns, which you saw (Friday) were some pretty above average turns even at the big league level. There's not many guys that can make that kind of turn and that do it the right way. He's looking really good out there, he's getting better and he understands what he needs to do and he's getting done."

Moncada said he likes how the BP drill has him more comfortable on the field. He continues to participate in it and feels like he's more fluid.

"(McEwing) just wanted me to have fun at the position, to be more loose with my feet and then because in that way, once I go back to second base, I could be more relaxed and loose with my legs and position my feet in their position when I needed to make a play," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I'm working every day to get better.

"That's something that helps you with your mobility and the moment you go over to second base it makes everything a lot easier."

The enthusiasm with which Moncada has attacked the team's plan has been evident to his coaches and teammates. Grudzielanek noted Moncada's willingness to learn and McEwing said he has seen consistent improvement since the Cuban product arrived at mini-camp in January. Veteran outfielder Jason Bourgeois said late Friday that Moncada also has started to grasp the timing of the game and has begun to figure it out. McEwing agrees that all Moncada needs is time and experience.

"The tools are there," McEwing said. "You see all the God-given athletic ability.

"What you're going to see over time is the process of chipping away at the speed of the game. We can't forget this kid is 21 years old. The speed of the runner, the attention to fundamentals, it takes time to grasp."