Moncada shows off skills at White Sox camp

Cuban infielder displays power bat during first workout

Moncada shows off skills at White Sox camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If fans were allowed into the White Sox hitters' minicamp, taking place through Thursday at Camelback Ranch, then Yoan Moncada probably would have received the first standing ovation as part of his new team.

It only wound up as a Tuesday batting practice session, but even this workout looked impressive for the 21-year-old switch-hitter from Cuba built like an NFL defensive back. Hitting left-handed, Moncada laced a couple of pitches into left field. He followed with a blast over the center-field fence on a back field at the team's complex, which will host Spring Training in a little over five weeks.

"I would describe myself as a power hitter because I have more power now," Moncada told MLB.com through translator Billy Russo after Tuesday's workout. "I really like to hit the ball to the whole field."

Spring Training tickets

"He's obviously very strong," said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz, who is getting in-person looks at Moncada this week. "He's built like a powerful athlete. Him being a switch-hitter, having power, having ability to hit, it seems like there's unlimited potential there."

Those words become music to White Sox fans ears.

Moncada ranks as the No. 1 prospect overall, according to MLBPipeline.com. His acquisition from Boston, who originally brought him aboard with a record-setting $31.5 million bonus, stunned the White Sox faithful even as part of a trade for one of the American League's top starting pitchers in Chris Sale. Now, the multi-talented infielder holds the unofficial lofty perch as the centerpiece of the club's rebuild.

Moncada on his expectations

This minicamp allows Moncada a chance to interact with some of his new teammates after finding out about his trade in the middle of an offseason trip.

"That was unexpected. I thought I would stay with [Boston] for a long time," Moncada said. "But that's when you realize this is a business and I have the opportunity to play with this team now, and to be great for this team."

"Conversations with him are very good. He's a very mature young man," manager Rick Renteria said of Moncada. "He has a sense about him. You can see he's got physical skill, no question about that. Our expectations obviously, the whole organization, is that this is a young man who will be a big part of the future for the White Sox."

Although he hasn't swung for a little bit, Renteria has been impressed by Moncada's approach. Moncada hit .211 over 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox last season, after posting a .294 average with 15 homers, 31 doubles, six triples, 62 RBIs and 45 stolen bases over two Minor League stops.

Running plays a big part of Moncada's game, and he said through Russo that he likes bunting even if he hasn't had a chance to do so since coming to the United States. This offseason has a been busy one with the trade and Moncada's first return to Cuba in December since coming to the United States, getting to see his parents for the first time in two years.

Having his parents, Manuel Moncada and Maria Caridad, join him in the United States and watch him play professionally is a dream for Moncada. Having Moncada as part of the organization ranks as a dream in itself for White Sox fans.

"He'll be in Major League camp, compete for a spot, and let things develop from there," Getz said. "He's got a very fun-loving personality. He's got baseball IQ.

"You can tell just by having the few conversations I've had with him. It's going to be fun. He has definitely been impressive."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.