Dave Dombrowski doesn’t like to keep prospects around for too long. Despite it seeming that the Washington Nationals were ready to have a Max Scherzer and Chris Sale one-two punch atop their rotation as late as last night, the Boston Red Sox swooped in and now have a frightening Big Three in their rotation. Chris Sale changes the color of his Sox and is now atop a rotation that has David Price and the 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.
If you read social media right now, you will see a very unhappy Red Sox Nation. It is understandable, Moncada cost a lot of money, he never saw a Triple-A pitch and they were sold that he was going to lead the young Sox to new heights. The thing the Red Sox had that made Moncada expendable was Andrew Benintendi. If any prospect could rival the pure upside of Moncada’s, Benintendi proved it could very well be him.
So the Red Sox went out and used their surplus of elite talent and got the premier lefty in the American League to pitch alongside former Cy Young-lefty Price, a deadly combo in today’s game of highly sought after left-handed talent. They now have a 27-year old under cost control on a team that is very much ready to compete now, as opposed to a team like the Braves, who would have arguably wasted some of those cost-controlled years in a rebuild. The White Sox got a juicy haul, but no matter how enticing they are, they are still prospects, which always leaves many question marks.
What do I need to tell you about Moncada that you don’t already know? I saw him in Hickory as a 20-year old and he ripped his very first at bat that night off the centerfield wall. I was convinced 30 seconds into my first viewing of him that all the hype was for real.
Moncada signed with the Red Sox for $31.5-million and since Boston eclipsed the international bonus pool threshold, he actually cost them double that. Here’s what our own John Sickels said about Moncada in this year’s Baseball Prospect Book:
When he signed, the scouting reports said he combined speed, aggressive baserunning, power potential, and good plate discipline into one complete offensive package. Those reports were correct.
They were. Despite a slow start in the Sally in his 2015 debut, he slashed .278/.380/.438 with a nice 83-to-42 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He added 19 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and was successful on 49 of 52 stolen base attempts. This past season he climbed from High-A Salem to the major leagues. He slashed .294/.407/.511 over two levels, improving his walk rate along the way. He untapped even more of his power, ripping 31 doubles, six triples and 15 home runs while stealing a bit less successful 45 of 57 stolen bases.
Moncada’s biggest concerns are his glove and strikeout rate, but he has the arm and athleticism to be at least serviceable wherever it is he winds up, whether it is his natural middle infield slot, third base as he moonlighted in last season, or the outfield that many project he will one day roam. As far as the strikeout rates go, if he harnesses the offensive potential many see him capable of, it seems those rising rates are easily forgiven in today’s game. Should he exhibit the plate discipline he had earlier in his career, it is even scarier to imagine what he could do.
Futures Game MVP. Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Simply put, Moncada has one of the best skill sets in all of the minors.
Kopech is one of the more exciting pitchers in the minor leagues. Anyone who throws 105 miles per hour is going to draw some attention to themselves, a 20 year old.
Kopech has had a wild start to his career, including as much chaos off the field as his lightening fast pitches cause on it. He was suspended last season for violating the substance abuse policy and began this season a bit behind, injuring himself in a fight with his own teammates.
The skinny on Kopech is that the fastball is to die for, but coming into this season, his slider and changeup were inconsistent. Having never pitched above A-ball, many have speculated that he may be able to get by with just his fastball, as his walk rates have always been a bit high (5.29 per nine in 56.1 combined innings between the NYPL and Carolina League this season). His pitches seemed improved this year, capped off by a sharp stint in the Arizona Fall League, going 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA over six starts, posting a nice 26-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 22.1 innings pitched.
He has the ceiling of a quality starter in the big leagues with some fine tuning, but at the very worst, he could dominate the back of a bullpen with that fastball, a slider that sits in the low-90s and a change up that has both nasty drop and such a deceiving change in velocity.
To see more on the other two exciting prospects involved, head on over to Minor League Ball for my full article by clicking on the link below: