Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said today that “nothing but positives could come” from a September promotion for top infield prospect Yoan Moncada.
This doesn’t mean he’s a sure thing — Dave Dombrowski has seemed bearish on a September callup in the past — but it sure would be exciting to see one of baseball’s best prospects in the heat of a pennant race. Moncada is batting .298/.411/.518 with 15 home runs and 45 steals in 105 games this season between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. He’d certainly have some adjustments to make if he skipped Triple-A to hit the bigs, but like Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill, and Brock Holt are tearing up the pea patch.
Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson made such a leap recently. Obviously the pressure on him is much less than that which Moncada would face. But Moncada is going to be a special player eventually and, heck, when would a Boston player NOT be under a microscope?
I met some guy on a hike a couple of months ago who used to be married to a close friend or a cousin or something of Indians pitcher Zach McAllister. I forget the details but it was some tenuous relationship like that. No different than a lot of brush-with-fame stories you get from Triple-A towns like Columbus, where McAllister spent some time.
Anyway, the guy met McAllister a couple of times. They didn’t really talk about much but the guy said he remembers McAllister talking about just how hard baseball was. In terms of the skills required and the mastery of it even if you are blessed with those skills. And, of course, the mental strain of it all when you’re at that place, as McAllister was at the time, when your career can either be made or broken by what the big club thinks of you. He was 22 or 23 then, and if he hadn’t been called up soon, he might’ve gone from prospect to organizational guy and that’s a lot of money left on the table.
Anyway, the point of it all was that this guy I was hiking with — not a big baseball fan — was super impressed with McAllister and said he hadn’t thought about just how hard professional sports were to even the guys who are insanely gifted at playing professional sports. I don’t think most of us think about that as much as we probably should.
Then again, sometimes players make it look easy. Like McAllister did last night when he threw a pitch to Kurt Suzuki, kicked the line drive that was hit back to him into the air and caught it on the fly:
JaCoby Jones was called up by the Tigers and made his major league debut yesterday. His parents, from Mississippi, had to scramble to get to Detroit to watch their son in action, but it was well worth the scramble: young Mr. Jones had two hits and two RBI as the Tigers won.
Jones’ first hit was an RBI double which broke a tie. It also caused his mom to break into tears:
Baseball is weird. That could be the first hit in an illustrious big league career. It could also be his peak as a major leaguer. Nothing is ever guaranteed. But Jones and his folks have that moment forever.