Yoan Moncada’s shin is all healed up.
Now it’s time for his numbers to get in shape, too.
The No. 1 prospect in baseball came off the 10-day disabled list for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting Cleveland Indians. He’s all better after going on the shelf late last month with a shin contusion, and he’s back in the lineup playing second base, where White Sox fans hope they’ll see him every day for the next decade.
It might be impossible for Moncada to live up to the hype of being the top prospect in the game. How many top prospects end up doing that? But if he’s going to deliver on the promise, he’ll have to start putting up some better numbers at the plate than what he’s done in his first taste of being an everyday major league player.
He’s only played in 30 games, of course, but he hasn’t hit the bigs in the same fashion in which he tore up Triple-A. Through his first 122 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, Moncada is slashing .188/.328/.356 with 44 strikeouts and 19 walks.
The good news is that he’ll have plenty of time to find himself. The White Sox aren’t expected to compete for a couple years, meaning any struggles Moncada goes through at the start of his career shouldn’t negatively impact any pennant races.
But what a layer of intrigue it would add to the 2017 season’s final month if Moncada could really turn on the jets and start producing in a big way.
“I am going to do all that I know, to perform at the best level I can,” he said through an interpreter Tuesday. “I have to do my best to get results. That’s the only way I know how to play baseball.
“Just to do my job. I don’t want to change anything. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and the results are going to be there.”
Manager Rick Renteria thought Moncada was starting to figure things out right before the second baseman went on the disabled list, and that .328 on-base percentage shows things haven’t been all bad for the 22-year-old. Moncada is reaching base almost a third of the time, which is pretty darn good.
The stay on the DL could have been looked at in one of two ways. It could be seen as a break for a hitter still finding his way in his first stint as a everyday big leaguer. Or it could be seen as a brief moment of opportunity taken away from a young guy racking up valuable experience.
Renteria seems to think that no matter the results, any opportunity Moncada can get is valuable.
“I don’t know that he was in need of time off,” Renteria said. “He was pushing to try to get back even sooner than now, but we needed to make sure that bruise cleared up and he was fully comfortable and pain free.
“I think for all these young men, getting as many opportunities as they can to develop is the most important thing. There are times when you need to take a break, take a step back. I don’t think it’s going to hurt him. I think he’ll come back, he’ll settle back in.”
So White Sox fans — and White Sox rebuild fans, in particular — will get to see Moncada back in action for the first time in a week and a half, a welcome sight for a team looking to get their top prospect ready for a long future in the heart of a major league lineup. And maybe Moncada, as he continues to figure out major league pitching, can start producing like he did at all minor league levels.
This has been a last-place season for the White Sox but at the same time a very hopeful one considering the continual improvements Rick Hahn keeps making to the farm system and the highly ranked prospects that have started to trickle their way on to the big league roster. One way to put an exclamation point on this campaign? If Moncada could tear it up in September.