Moncada sees defensive future at third base

Six prospects to play in AFL; September callups still unknown

August 29th, 2019

CHICAGO -- didn’t really need to answer whether he felt third base now was his position when the young White Sox standout was asked prior to Wednesday’s game against the Twins.

First baseman and team leader Jose Abreu provided the response for him.

“Yes,” said a smiling Abreu, situated two lockers over from Moncada.

“Honestly, I think third base is going to be my position for a very, very long time,” Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo, echoing Abreu’s opinion. “At the same time, I'm open to help the team at any position they need me to play. That's up to them. I'm open to it, but I feel very comfortable playing third base right now.”

There would be almost no reason leading to move Moncada away from third after moving from second base and subsequently enjoying a breakout 2019 campaign. White Sox manager Rick Renteria asked if it was a trick question when the idea of Moncada's positional future was brought up to him.

But what if, hypothetically, the White Sox pursued a free agent like third baseman Anthony Rendon in the offseason? The 29-year-old has put up MVP-caliber numbers for the Nationals and certainly would provide a major boost to the White Sox rebuild.

With a move of that ilk in mind, Moncada clearly has the athleticism to move even into the outfield let alone back to second.

“As far as he's concerned, he said he can play center, as well,” Renteria said. “He's a tremendously athletic individual. He has the ability to do whatever he wants, probably, like a lot of our guys. It's a simple game, but a lot of these guys have physical skills that allow them an opportunity to do a lot of different things.”

In the current plane of reality, Moncada simply will work to continue the major jump he has made in 2019. That work includes a two or three week stint in Arizona during November with Renteria and hitting coach Todd Steverson, which he started last offseason.

“Try to improve there, try to figure out ways to improve, because I still think I can be better,” Moncada said. “From there, just keep my routine throughout the whole offseason. I'm not planning to change anything.”

Arizona Fall League roster announced

Rosters for the 2019 Arizona Fall League season were announced on Wednesday, with action beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 18. Six White Sox prospects will be part of the Glendale Desert Dogs, with a TBA to be filled from the White Sox in the outfield.

That list includes outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 9 White Sox prospect according to MLB Pipeline), first baseman Gavin Sheets (No. 13), right-handed pitcher Tyler Johnson (No. 19), left-handed pitcher Bernardo Flores (No. 28), left-handed pitcher Bennett Sousa and right-handed pitcher Vince Arobio. Flores missed time this season with an oblique injury, while Johnson was sidelined by a lat strain.

Johnson has the potential to be part of the White Sox bullpen as soon as next year. Outfielder Micker Adolfo, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in early May, has returned as a designated hitter with the Arizona Rookie League team. He’s going through a throwing program, and if all goes well, Adolfo could be that TBA outfielder on the Glendale roster.

September callups still a mystery

Renteria wouldn’t commit to any potential September callups for the White Sox, although the ultimately handful of promotions would seem to come from the following Triple-A Charlotte list: right-handed relievers Jose Ruiz, Carson Fulmer and Dylan Covey, left-handed reliever Manny Banuelos, catchers Zack Collins and Seby Zavala, outfielders Charlie Tilson, Daniel Palka and Ryan Cordell and possibly even infielders Danny Mendick and Yermin Mercedes. The White Sox only have one spot open on the 40-man, which would factor into the decision.

Outfielder Luis Robert, the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline, and second baseman Nick Madrigal would be the prime candidates, but those moves seem less likely as regular-season time dwindles.

“There are a few names that I'm sure the organization, in general, will present to us and then we'll go over them,” Renteria said. “I don't know that it's really much of a discussion in terms of who will be here. In general, we have an idea who might be here.”

Fulmer began an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte Wednesday, testing his right hamstring strain.