Unless you live under a rock, by now you should have heard about the latest Cuban import to hit the states, Yoan Moncada.
According to many baseball writers, Moncada is the best teenage ballplayer to come out of Cuba since the Chicago Cubs’ own outfield stud Jorge Soler.
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Moncada is only 19 years-old and stands at six feet tall, weighing in at 210 pounds (eyes widening). There’s no player with his combination of tools, youth and hitting ability (from both sides of the plate) ever to come out of Cuba, which makes this particular athlete such a highly touted commodity.
Moncada made the Cuba team in the 15-to-16 year-old category thanks to a tremendous production in the National Championship of 2011, in which he had a stellar performance with 40 hits in just 24 games, including eight long balls.
In 2012-13, the young Cuban made his Serie Nacional debut for Cienfuegos, where he was teammates with last season’s American League Rookie of the Year, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.
At only 17 years old, Moncada performed admirably, slashing .283/.414/.348 in 172 plate appearances, while stealing 13 bases in 18 attempts. This past season in Cuba, the phenom hit .273/.365/.406 in 195 plate appearances as an 18-year-old, and spent most of his time at second base with stints at both shortstop and center field, demonstrating his versatility.
Adding Yoan Moncada would completely change the perception of the already-loaded Chicago Cubs.
The two most recently-signed Cuban players are outfielders Rusney Castillo (age 27) – signed by the Boston Red Sox midseason for a whopping $72.5 million over seven years, and Arizona Diamondbacks standout Yasmany Tomas (age 24), who signed for $68.5 million over the next half-dozen years.
Moncada is said to have more upside than both of these international free agent signings. If eligible for the 2015 MLB Draft this June, Moncada would be in the mix to be selected as the number one overall pick. His tools and dominance of the Cuban junior leagues are said to be on par with what Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig did at the same age.
Unfortunately, your Chicago Cubs are unable to sign such an international free agent for more than a $250,000 bonus until July 2, meaning the team is a long-shot to sign Moncada (although it won’t stop me from dreaming).
Nonetheless, the organization recently held a workout for the Cuban sensation in Florida. It would be a surprise if he waited to sign until July, given the intense level of interest he’s garnering. The Dodgers and the New York Yankees are currently the favorites to land the services of Moncada – although several other teams appear on the fringe.
I know you’re probably thinking the Cubs are loaded with prospects; they don’t need this kid – and you’re probably right. But is there such a thing as having too much talent? Too many assets?
If you think the North Siders are sitting pretty now, imagine the position of leverage and flexibility they’d be in if they were to acquire what many baseball insiders, scouts and front office personnel describe as a franchise player in Yoan Moncada.
So yeah, though its highly unlikely Moncada is the next big thing for the Cubs, he’s clearly poised to be the next big thing in Major League Baseball.