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White Sox

White Sox's Yoan Moncada turns heads after 2018 struggles

Former 2nd baseman hitting for average, power, playing strong defensive 3rd base

The White Sox's Yoan Moncada heads to first after hitting a home run off Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander in the first inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox's Yoan Moncada heads to first after hitting a home run off Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander in the first inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

CHICAGO – The White Sox are sending three players to next week’s All-Star Game in Cleveland.

Not bad, especially considering the Sox (41-43) are scratching to get to the .500 mark.

Not bad at all, considering the first-place Minnesota Twins are only sending two players to the Midsummer Classic.

Lucas Giolito, James McCann and José Abreu are going to the All-Star Game, deservedly so. A strong case also can be made for Yoan Moncada, who arguably is the Sox’s best all-around player.

“He’s a young man who I think ... certainly should be considered as an All-Star candidate,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think he’s played well enough to be considered. I know he was. He’s showing his game on both sides of the baseball, continues to develop and continues to impress everyone.”

At this time last season, Moncada was well on his way to leading the major leagues in strikeouts. He was playing second base for the Sox and looking like anything but baseball’s best minor league player in 2016 before being traded from the Boston Red Sox to the White Sox in the Chris Sale blockbuster deal.

“You’re going to see guys like [Tim Anderson] and Moncada in the All-Star Game in the near future,” McCann said. “That’s a good sign for the organization, seeing the amount of guys as candidates to be able to go to the All-Star Game.”

In addition to cutting the strikeout total down to 92 in 299 at-bats after piling up 217 in 578 trips to the plate last season, Moncada is batting .304 and is second on the Sox to Abreu in home runs (16) and RBIs (47).

After barely surviving in 2018, the switch-hitting third baseman is thriving this year. In Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader sweep of Detroit, Moncada became only the seventh player in franchise history to homer from both sides of the plate.

“I feel very good,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I have a lot of confidence in myself right now. Last year was my first full season in the majors, and I learned how to grind during the whole season.

“This year, I have the experience. I worked to get better for this year; I worked a lot during the offseason.”

The work has paid off big, for Moncada and the Sox.

Still only 24, Moncada’s future is incredibly bright. Not only is he hitting for power from both sides of the plate, he’s hitting for average and playing much better defense at third base than he did at second.

“He’s really improving,” Renteria said. “Time is a big factor; experience is a big factor. When you see someone with the skill set that he brings to the table, the reality is that being a young person, as he is, at the major league level, you have to allow them to continue to play. I think people in many instances might push the panic button.

“He’s continued to hone his skills on both sides of the plate, and he’s coming into his own. I hope this is just a little scratch at the surface of what he’s going to become.”

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