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Yoan Moncada Off To Hot Start in Charlotte

DURHAM, N.C.--Yoan Moncada is acquitting himself quite well to his new organization.

The White Sox's No. 1 prospect homered, walked twice, scored twice and stole a base on Monday night to continue his hot start for Triple-A Charlotte, as the Knights fell 7-4 to host Durham (Rays).

Moncada, the reigning BA Minor League Player of the Year and current No. 2 prospect in baseball, is batting .391 (9-for-23) with two homers and two steals through five games, his first in Chicago's organization after coming over from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale deal last winter.

"He's a game-changer. He's exciting to watch," Charlotte manager Mark Grudzielanek said. "He definitely has all the tools. Switch-hitter, he can run, he's just got to grow a little bit. He's just got to get a little more experience, get a few more reps, but again, what a find and what a great player."

Moncada began the evening striking out looking against Chase Whitley but quickly redeemed himself. Facing lefthander Justin Marks to lead off the fourth, Moncada powered a first-pitch fastball deep over the high wall in left-center field for a no-doubter.

Most notable about Moncada's home run was that it came with the switch-hitter batting righthanded. Last season Moncada hit just .243/.371/.379 from the right side with only two of his 15 homers. He has targeted hitting from the right side as one of his main areas for improvement.

"I've been working everyday in the cage just trying to keep up the same swing, same process righthanded as I've always done lefthanded," Moncada said through a translator. "I'm going to keep working the way I've been working and see what happens."

Moncada drew a walk in his next at-bat in the sixth, laying off of multiple close breaking balls, and promptly stole second base. He walked again in the eighth after battling back from down 1-2 in the count.

Moncada's plate discipline was a further encouraging sign after he struck out 12 times in 20 plate appearances in his first big league callup last year.

"From playing up in the big leagues I learned it's a different level," Moncada said. "I'm going to have to learn to make a lot of adjustments."

Another area Moncada has targeted for improvement is his defense. He made a nifty play at second base to his left on Monday evening, showing exceptional range to get to a ball in shallow right field, but spun around wildly and threw the ball well wide of first base for an error.

He has slowly improved his defensive reliability each level he's ascended--he posted a .942 fielding percentage in 2015 and upped it to .957 in 2016--but is still a work in progress at second.

"I'm getting him to move his feet a little bit, change up a few things around the base," said Grudzielanek, a second baseman for 15 years in the majors. "Tighten him up, shorten him up, make him a little bit quicker. But there's some things there. His raw tools, it's all there."

Overall Moncada has been impressive in his first action as a member of the White Sox organization. Now, it's just a matter of keeping it up and forcing Chicago's front office to bring him up to the majors.

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"I feel good," Moncada said. "The only thing I can do is play baseball the way I've always played."

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