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Sunday Odds & Ends: Moncada, The Bullpen, The Outfield

2018 has been a frustrating year when it comes to Yoan Moncada.  At the end of April and beginning of May, it looked like something had finally clicked and he was turning into the superstar many said was possible.  Over a nine game stretch, he hit .375/.405/.750 and raised his OPS on the year to .882.  Two games later, he tweaked his hamstring and missed ten days of action.  On his return, his timing had been ruined and he entered a prolonged slump, hitting below the Mendoza line for the next 39 games.

I can’t prove the injury is the cause for the slump, I suppose.  It’s based on my observations.  When he is going badly, he gets caught looking, or when he does get into a good count and gets a pitch he wants to drive he tries to unload and fouls it back.  When he’s been locked in, you can see him crushing first pitches, blasting the pitches he wants in play instead of backwards, and spitting on balls outside of the zone.

So, because this season is cursed, when he started to get back in sync—he’s hit .317/.417/.537 in his last eleven games—he gets hurt again, banging his knee on a pickoff play while running the bases.  He’s listed as day-to-day, but one has to hope against hope he not only comes back quickly, but shows he can hold his timing for more than short stretches.

In the era of prospects hitting the ground running as fully formed stars, it’s easy to forget that’s still unusual.  Moncada is muddling along as a roughly league-average player when you net out his performance, but he’s shown there’s more in there.  It just keeps getting interrupted.

Other notes:

  • Bruce Rondon was designated for assignment in favor of Jeanmar Gomez. As he has for his whole career, he showed an intriguing skillset with plenty of velocity and a frequently-nasty slider, but after nearly 30 innings of walking virtually a batter an inning the White Sox pulled the plug on the experiment.  Rondon is the type of experiment they should be conducting in a season like this, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to work.
  • Gomez as the call-up is a somewhat surprising choice. The veteran scrap heap pickup has closing experience and has had extended periods of success in the majors in the past, despite not missing any bats.  It’s good to show priority minor league free agents and NRIs they’ll get a shot with your organization, but this profile isn’t really the kind you’d expect to mean anything at the trade deadline.
  • The reason Gomez was a bit of a surprise callup is that Ian Hamilton is actually a prospect who is also in Charlotte and has now gone 8 innings there without allowing a run. In fact, he has more strikeouts in that time (10) than he has allowed baserunners (6).  When it comes to pitchers I still am of the opinion the White Sox know their business, and maybe they’re a little gunshy after Aaron Bummer’s Race to the Majors resembled a mad prospect rush.  But Hamilton is what it looks like when a relief prospect is Ready with a capital R.
  • The White Sox outfield might get very crowded in the near future. Avisail Garcia isn’t expected to be out very long, Leury Garcia is hitting well, and Nicky Delmonico has begun a rehab assignment in Triple-A.  Given Avisail’s repeated lower body injuries this year, it may make sense to use him at DH a little more often, and obviously you can find other spots for Leury Garcia to play, but there are only so many plate appearances to go around.  The organization seems to love Adam Engel, despite another 270 PAs of sub-.600 OPS baseball, but at a certain point Engel, Charlie Tilson and Daniel Palka are going to feel the squeeze.

Lead Photo Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


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