Among other intriguing storylines making waves through White Sox fan chatter, the question of “Is Yoan Moncada a bust?” has risen in volume lately. While a fair percentage of South Sider fans are ready to make that assertion, it seems that most people are willing to defend the 23 year-old second baseman.
All three of these statements are true:
- Yoan Moncada is having an underwhelming year for Chicago, especially given his expectations.
- Moncada is still very young, very talented, and very inexperienced. Another two years are needed before people should be able to confidently label him a bust.
- In the event that Moncada never becomes a solid player, things will be ok. The rebuild will go on, and will maintain a healthy chance of success.
While claims #1 and #2 are oft-discussed, claim #3 doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s mind. Obviously, that’s acceptable, given its long-term nature. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, or any less relevant to the debate surrounding Moncada.
As the first major prospect called up since Rick Hahn tore down the major league roster, Yoan Moncada ushered in the second phase of the rebuild. No longer were prospects just future players, they became active heroes of the rebuild, big-leaguers seen in the flesh on 35th and Shields and not just pictured on far-away diamonds in Charlotte or Winston-Salem. That all started with Moncada. He was the transition. Sox fans thrust their aspirations and championship dreams onto him first, and Moncada became a symbol of hope. Many of us temporarily lost our perspective on the larger frame of the rebuild.
Importantly, Rick Hahn and Co. constructed trades and the future roster with depth in mind. The White Sox have sold almost everyone they could since the December 2016 winter meetings, acquiring a heap of prospects in return. Rather than settle for a few big names and call it quits, Hahn supplemented marquee names like Moncada and Lucas Giolito with several mid-level guys by trading way more than just Chris Sale, Eaton, and Jose Quintana. Not only did this add immediate depth, the absoluteness of the tear-down allowed Chicago to tank and secure the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, and likely another top-five pick in 2019.
Now, after calling up Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez on top of Moncada, the White Sox still own the third-best farm system in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.
What does all this constitute? Simply put, White Sox fans must not lament a few busted prospects. That is bound to happen, and the depth means that the rebuild isn’t compromised by it.
Again, I’m not saying Yoan Moncada is a bust. Not even close. Merely, fans must accept the possibility of it happening, and quell any huge fears that they begin to feel from it. In the case of Moncada, fans should be especially resilient, as Nick Madrigal has all the tools to become a star second basemen in place of Moncada.
There’s obviously a couple positions where that depth isn’t as evident. For one, Luis Robert appears to be far-and-away the best center field option for Chicago starting in a couple seasons. If he doesn’t pan out, free agency might be the Sox’s only chance for a high-quality center fielder in the early 2020s. But that’s totally fine. Championship teams don’t have to have amazing players at every position.
On that note, it’s also worth highlighting that the future of the White Sox doesn’t wholly depend on young guys. With a league-low payroll, Hahn has the financial assets to greatly bolster the team through free agency, potentially making up for a higher-than-expected amount of failed prospects.
So when Moncada strikes out looking for the third time in a ballgame later this season, do yourself a favor and take your clenched fist away from the panic button. It doesn’t spell the doom of Moncada’s career, and it especially doesn’t spell a crushing blow to the rebuild. Failures happen.