By Kevin Powell
The White Sox are in last place with the no hope of making the postseason. But that doesn’t seem to be bothering the fan base much. Especially since general manager Rick Hahn has kept the team relevant with four blockbuster trades since December. 24,907 showed up Wednesday night to see Yoan Moncada’s debut with the Sox.
“I can feel the excitement,” Moncada said.
It turned into an impromptu promotional night for the Sox after the arrival of baseball’s top prospect. ‘Moncada Day’ was splattered across social media in the hours leading up to the 22-year-old’s first game at Guaranteed Rate Field. The organization and the fans had been anxiously awaiting his arrival since he was acquired in the Chris Sale trade last winter.
“I’m happy,” Moncada said before Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take advantage of this opportunity.”
In his first at-bat he drew a walk after falling behind 0-2. That earned a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. His second at-bat, a ground out. Another loud ovation. His third time at the plate, a line out to center. After that, most were headed for the exits. They were there to see the future.
“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they cheered me on,” Moncada said.
Manager Rick Renteria says Moncada should embrace the love.
“I think he should relish it. He’s being welcomed by a large city that’s looking forward to having him here for a long time and being a contributor to this organization. So, I think it’s a good thing.”
The Sox are going to be bad for a while. But that’s OK. In fact, they have a chance to end up with the worst record in all of baseball. The blockbuster trades could be over with after dealing away almost all of their assets, but Hahn might have the top pick in next year’s draft to work with. The rich get richer.
Once the trade deadline passes, things could slow down. No more trades. Just prospect promotions to the big league club. None of which will draw the sort of interest Moncada has, but there will be some buzz every time one of their prospects is plucked out of the farm system and dropped into the majors. This is the plan. This is a clear direction. And the rebuild couldn’t be going much better. Ten of the Top 100 prospects in baseball? Some say that’s unprecedented.
“The fan base is obviously very excited about what the organization is doing in general. And I think for them to be able to see one of the young men that they ended up getting in a trade, having him here with us, they’re very excited to get a little taste of what the future is going to look like,” Renteria added.
Sox fans will have to remain patient. It’s going to take time for all of those prospects to make it the majors. In the meantime, just sit back, relax and enjoy Moncada Mania.
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720