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Moncada a key cog in White Sox rebuild

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Yoan Moncada turned 22 on May 27, so the Cuban native is a bit young to be considered the face of the White Sox franchise.

But Moncada grew a lot during 231 plate appearances and 54 games for the White Sox in 2017, and the switch-hitting second baseman was a difference maker for the White Sox rebuild.

CHICAGO -- Yoan Moncada turned 22 on May 27, so the Cuban native is a bit young to be considered the face of the White Sox franchise.

But Moncada grew a lot during 231 plate appearances and 54 games for the White Sox in 2017, and the switch-hitting second baseman was a difference maker for the White Sox rebuild.

"My confidence level is high because now I know how to perform and how people here handle themselves," Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo. "Just keep doing my routine.

"I have more experience and more focus because now I'm going to finish the season at this level. That's going to give me more awareness about what I have to do to be in better shape and to be in better position for next Spring Training."

Moncada's 2018 campaign will serve as a more telling analysis than anything he did during his White Sox debut, because he will be in the lineup every day for a full season. He should be able to help the White Sox on numerous levels after being the centerpiece of a four-player return from Boston in the Chris Sale trade one year ago.

Moncada fits as a No. 2 hitter in the White Sox lineup with a blend of power and speed, although strikeouts certainly will be part of Moncada's game. Moncada produced seven home runs and an .817 OPS over 153 plate appearances in that lineup slot in 2017.

Video: Merkin talks about Moncada's rookie season

Second base will be Moncada's position defensively, forming a strong up-the-middle combination with shortstop Tim Anderson, a crucial component to any good team. Moncada was used at third by Boston and there was even talk during Spring Training of how Moncada could fit in center field because of his high level of athleticism, but playing one position has helped his mindset.

There's also a quiet confidence residing within Moncada. It's difficult to tell by Moncada's demeanor whether he's in an 0-for-20 funk or a 10-for-20 hot streak, a trait helping him make adjustments on and off the field. He understands the process doesn't always lead to overnight results.

The White Sox have amassed a critical core of young talent during this rebuild and aren't done yet with the procurement portion of this process. So, Moncada is not alone, but the former top prospect in the game per MLBPipeline.com and five-tool talent certainly figures to be at the center of any great future success coming for this team.

"He's going to have some fits and starts over the next few years," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "But based on everything we've seen since he stepped on campus, we continue to project him as a special talent."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada