The White Sox have placed third baseman Yoan Moncada on the 10-day injured list due to a hamstring strain. An MRI revealed only a Grade 1 strain, though GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times) that the infielder will miss around two weeks of action. The injury forced Moncada out of the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Mets, after Moncada came up sore after fielding a grounder.
While not a major injury, it’s still unfortunate to see Moncada’s breakout season take a pause. Heralded as one of the game’s best prospects in recent years, Moncada has started to deliver on that potential in a big way this season, hitting .301/.358/.535 with 20 homers over 409 plate appearances. After recording a league-high 217 strikeouts in 2018, there’s still quite a bit of swing-and-miss in Moncada’s game, as evidenced by his 27.6% strikeout rate. When he does make contact, however, he is scorching the ball — Moncada ranks in the 92nd percentile of all players in hard-hit ball percentage, and in the 97% percentile in exit velocity.
After playing mostly as a second baseman in his first two MLB seasons, Moncada has played exclusively at third base this season, with somewhat improved defensive results depending on the metric. He posted below-average scores (-5 Defensive Runs Saved, -6.5 UZR/150) as a second baseman last year, but while his DRS has dropped to -6 this season, his glovework at the hot corner has seen his UZR/150 jump up to +5.2.
Acquired as the centerpiece of the prospect package the White Sox received from Boston in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada’s huge 2019 season (not to mention the big years for Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito) represents a notable step forward in Chicago’s rebuilding project. We already saw the White Sox make a big play to jumpstart their process by trying to sign Manny Machado last offseason, and now armed with more evidence that their new core group can deliver at the MLB level, Chicago is a team to watch this coming winter.