Chicago White Sox

With Yoan Moncada back from disabled list, is a late-season surge to come from baseball's top prospect?

0905-yoan-moncada.jpg
USA TODAY

With Yoan Moncada back from disabled list, is a late-season surge to come from baseball's top prospect?

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.

White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

9-19_nick_hostetler.jpg

White Sox draft guru Nick Hostetler willing to sacrifice position for player development

HOUSTON — As much as he longs to pick first next June, Nick Hostetler has learned to cope in the name of player development.

The White Sox amateur scouting director sees a deep draft class full of high school and college players awaiting. He’d love if the White Sox didn’t have to sweat out other teams’ decisions in what will be another critical moment in the team’s accumulation process.

But Hostetler said Tuesday he’s learned not to let his own feelings get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. Even if the White Sox end up picking third or fourth next June, Hostetler appreciates that the worse draft position is the result of a hot streak by any number of young players.

“It’s really exciting to see some of these young kids have success,” Hostetler said. “I really do like seeing Tim Anderson hit .400 and Lucas Giolito doing what he’s doing. All of these things are so great for the ultimate plan, which is us winning at the big-league level. I don’t ever want to get so selfish where I’m worrying about one pick or whether we’re three or whether we’re four or whatever it is and to use that than to take away from the greater good.”

There’s no question one pick can make all the difference. Colorado has received good production out of the third overall selection of the 2013 draft, Jon Gray, who has thus far given them 7.1 f-Wins Above Replacement in his brief career. But that pales in comparison to the 21.0 WAR produced by second pick Kris Bryant.

Entering Tuesday, the White Sox boasted the third-worst record in the majors. But their lead over the flailing Detroit Tigers, who are fourth, has slipped down to 1 1/2 games.

While a 100-loss season still appears to be in play for the White Sox, it seems far-fetched they would catch Philadelphia or San Francisco to finish with a top-two selection next June.

No matter where the White Sox pick, Hostetler is excited about the prospects of the class, which has a nice blend of hitters and pitchers from high school and college. Hostetler said earlier this month it’s the best class he can remember since 2010.

Still, Hostetler jokes that he’s conflicted when it comes to September scoreboard watching.

“It’s hard not to sit there and look but I’ve done a really good job,” Hostetler said with a laugh. “I’m proud of myself for this. I’ve kind of removed myself from this point. I root for our guys to succeed and to win, but at the same time knowing ultimately come June and three or four years after we’ll really know if picking third or fourth actually mattered.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bill Melton tells all about his life in baseball

0919_bill_melton.jpg
AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Bill Melton tells all about his life in baseball

Bill Melton's baseball career is the stuff of legend — some for what happened on the field, but also for what happened off of it.

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, the former White Sox slugger speaks with Chuck Garfien about winning the 1971 home run crown on the final day of the regular season after partying on Rush Street into the wee hours the night before. Melton also describes his huge public battle with then White Sox play-by-play announcer Harry Caray, partying at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club, hanging out with Frank Sinatra, fighting with former Angels manager Dick Williams.

Melton tells these stories and many more about the wild days of playing major league baseball in the 1970s. Plus, you'll hear a lost interview from 1971 when Brent Musburger interviewed Melton right after he became the home run king.

Listen to the latest episode below: