Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada has agreed to sign with the Red Sox, according to a report from MLB.com. Since Moncada is subject to the international bonus pools, he had to sign a minor league contract, with Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting that Moncada will get a $31.5 million signing bonus.
Moncada, 19, is a 6-foot, 210-pound switch-hitter who projects as a second or third baseman in the big leagues, though he will start his career in the minors, with a Class A assignment most likely. His has several tools that grade out now or project to be a 60 or better on the 20-80 scale. His speed, raw power and arm strength are all plus tools, and he projects as a future plus hitter. Once Moncada passes a physical and his contract becomes official, he will rank as the No. 10 prospect in baseball, making him Boston’s new No. 1 prospect.
Since Moncada is subject to the international bonus pools, this total cost to the organization will be double his bonus due to the 100 percent overage tax for exceeding the international bonus pools. The overage tax is payable to the commissioner’s office by July 15. Red Sox had already gone over their international bonus pool previously on July 2 last year, so they were already prevented from signing any player for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods once the 2015-16 international signing period begins on July 2.
Despite his youth, Moncada has excited scouts with his tools and performance at international tournaments for years. The buzz started in October 2010 at the COPABE Pan American 16U Championships in Mexico, and it continued the next year at the 16U World Championships in Mexico, where he batted .417/.563/.667 in seven games and was named to the tournament’s all-star team at third base.
As an 18-year-old, he joined the Cuban national team in the Netherlands in July 2013 to play in the World Port Tournament, though he played sparingly there. Two months later, he was a standout on the Cuban junior national team in Taiwan at the 18U World Championships, where he batted .375/.483/.542 in 29 plate appearances, leading the Cuban team in batting average, OBP and slugging. (Here’s video of him facing several high 2014 draft picks from Team USA in that tournament.)
“He’s electric,” said one scout. “When I saw him at the 18U World Championship in Taiwan, he did what good hitters do. He has tools, he’s athletic and he has a chance to hit for power. It’s bat speed that you don’t see except from the select few. The guy has different bat speed from everyone else, period. It’s a beautiful swing too from the left side, which is better than his righthanded swing.”
Meanwhile, back in Cuba, Moncada was tearing up the junior national leagues in Cuba. In the country’s 16U national league in 2011, Moncada hit .500/.643/.918 in 158 trips to the plate. He led the league in batting average, OBP, slugging, home runs (8) and walks (37) and stole 15 bases without getting caught. When he moved up to Cuba’s 18U national league in 2012, he again ranked first in batting average, OBP and slugging with a .434/.543/.648 slash line in 152 plate appearances and stole 20 bases in 24 attempts.
Moncada made his Serie Nacional debut in 2012-13 for Cienfuegos, where he played second base in an infield with Jose Abreu at first base and Erisbel Arruebarrena at shortstop. Even at 17, Moncada hit well, batting .283/.414/.348 in 172 plate appearances. He showed his speed, with 13 stolen bases in 18 tries, and during the skills competition of the all-star game by beating Rusney Castillo and Guillermo Heredia in a race from home to first, and winning another another race around the bases.
During the 2013-14 season, Moncada’s second and final year in Serie Nacional, he batted .273/.365/.406 in 195 plate appearances as an 18-year-old. It’s been more than a year since Moncada has played in a competitive game, with his last action coming in December 2013 when his Cienfuegos team was eliminated at the end of the first half of the season.