After months of speculation over where he would land and for how much, Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada has agreed to terms with the Boston Red Sox on a deal that will pay him a bonus worth something in the neighborhood of $30 million, according to Jesse Sanchez of

That’s a record amount for an international amateur player under the current signing rules and regulations, dwarfing the $8.27 million bonus the Arizona Diamondbacks gave right-hander Yoan Lopez earlier this offseason.

By just about all accounts, Moncada, a switch-hitting 19-year-old infielder with five-tool talent, should be worth it.

The question becomes: Now that he’s with the Red Sox, how long will it take Moncada, who won’t turn 20 until May 27, to make it to the majors and become MLB’s next great Cuban star? 

Here’s Ben Badler of Baseball America on Moncada‘s specs, comps and potential:

6-foot, 210-pound switch-hitting infielder who’s the best teenager to leave Cuba since Jorge Soler, a player with exciting tools and dominance of the Cuban junior leagues on par with what Yasiel Puig did at the same age. …

How good is Moncada? … If [he] were eligible for the 2015 draft, he would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick.

And prospect guru Jim Callis had this to say about Moncada, via

He’s really, really good. He’s not on the Top 100 Prospects list because he’s not signed yet. But were he to sign, I think he’d be in the top 10 somewhere—he’s that good.

You’re talking about a 19-year-old, switch-hitting middle infielder who hits for average, has power, above-average runner, good arm. I think the only question on him is he’s not really a shortstop, maybe more of a second baseman or third baseman.

So Moncada‘s talent is elite, his skill set broad.

As for his statistics, the numbers from Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top professional league, indicate he has yet to fully grow into his power (.380 slugging percentage in two seasons). But at his age, there’s plenty of time to develop that element.

What’s especially intriguing about Moncada‘s profile, again based on the numbers, is that he’s shown a knack for getting on base (.388 on-base percentage), which isn’t often a forte for young players still learning nuances of the game, particularly those who have played in Latin America. That alone is promising.

The fact Moncada is now part of a major league organization will only help get him on the path to reaching The Show.

For one, he’ll get to experience spring training over the next several weeks, which means he’ll be open to the highest level of instruction, training and coaching right away. That’s no small benefit as Moncada adjusts to a new everything—country, culture, language, teammates, media, etc.

Given that the Red Sox have invested so much in Moncada—in the end, the bonus ultimately will cost them twice the final price as a dollar-for-dollar overage tax is applied, and they won’t be able to sign any international amateur for more than $300,000 the next two years—the club is going to do everything in its power to get as much out of Moncada as fast as possible.

As far as a best-case scenario in terms of how quickly Moncada might make it to the majors and become a star? Look no further than his fellow countryman Puig, who signed for $42 million (prior to the current rules) in June 2012.

After a strong 23-game cameo in the low minors that year, then an incredible showing in spring training the following March and a couple of big months at Double-A to open the 2013 season, Puig became a phenomenon with the Los Angeles Dodgers by June 2013—just a year later.

Given that Moncada is almost two full years younger than Puig was at the time of each player’s signing, a more realistic timeline for Moncada could be along the lines of Soler‘s. 

At the time he landed his $30 million deal with the Chicago Cubs in June 2012—the same month as PuigSoler was 20 years and four months old. That’s about half a year older than Moncada is now.

Soler‘s development was slowed along the way, mostly by injuries that limited him to just 75 minor league games in 2013, his first full season, and 62 in 2014. But he did make it to the majors by the end of August last year and looked ready right away, hitting .292/.330/.573 with 14 extra-base hits, including five homers, in 24 games.

Of course, there are factors that could slow Moncada‘s ascent to MLB stardom, too. Some of them are under his control.

As a switch-hitter, for instance, Moncada will have to prove he can perform capably from both sides of the plate and against pitchers of various kinds of velocities, repertoires and arm angles. And as Callis notes, “The caveat is that Moncada hasn’t faced much pro-caliber pitching.”

Keith Law of ESPN goes into detail on Moncada‘s two separate swings:

His left-handed swing is ahead of his right-handed swing for now. He’s very short to the ball with plus bat speed, with excellent body control and strong hands; his right-handed swing is a bit more rigid and he’s not likely to have the same plate coverage, struggling to adjust to off-speed stuff when facing live pitching this winter.

There also is the matter of where Moncada will play in the field. Although he has some experience at shortstop, he played second base primarily in the Serie Nacional but could profile better at third base given his build (6’2″, 205 lbs) and projectable power. He won’t be learning an entirely new position, but there are nuances and specifics that apply to each spot on the diamond that he’ll have to turn into second nature.

There are aspects beyond Moncada‘s grasp, too. Like the fact Boston already has a fully stocked infield, featuring fellow young franchise building block Xander Bogaerts at short, franchise face Dustin Pedroia signed through 2021 at second base and new $95 million man Pablo Sandoval at third.

This means the Red Sox have no reason to rush Moncada to the majors, and it also won’t make it any easier for him to get there without earning it.

Given the circumstances, perhaps the easiest path to playing time comes with the expiration of first baseman Mike Napoli’s contract after the 2015 campaign, which would allow Boston to shift Sandoval to the other corner, thus opening up the hot corner for Moncada.

If that happens, and Moncada performs to expectations in the minors this year—likely starting at a low level (i.e. A-ball), according to Ian Browne of, with a chance to reach Double-A—and follows the almost unbelievable Puig path, he could look like MLB’s next Cuban stud by the end of the first half of the 2016 season.

If Moncada‘s timeline is more similar to Soler‘s, though, then look for Moncada to arrive either late in the second half of 2016 or early in the first half of 2017 with the aim of being a starter right away—and a potential star in 2018.

Ultimately, Moncada is a different player from Puig and Soler—or any other fellow Cuban who has gone on to become an MLB star, like Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu—so how fast Moncada makes it to the majors, and whether he becomes a star, is going to depend on him more than anything else.

For his part, Moncada had this to say, via Sanchez, in early February prior to signing: “My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the major leagues as fast as I can.”

The clock is ticking.


Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of, and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. 

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.

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