With 22 games left in the season, the Red Sox have shifted their focus from prospect development to playoff contention, and no one is feeling the brunt of that decision more than third baseman Yoan Moncada.
Moncada, who was called up in mid-August to supplant Travis Shaw at the hot corner, went 4-for-18 with 11 strikeouts in six games with Boston. During Friday night’s 13-3 showdown against the Blue Jays, Shaw replaced Moncada at third base, while the 21-year-old rookie slotted in as a pinch-runner for David Ortiz in the eighth inning and struck out in the ninth.
As the Blue Jays lurk two games behind the Red Sox in the division standings, keeping Moncada in a full-time role wasn’t an option for manager John Farrell, who hopes that the club’s top prospect will gain some valuable insights by observing the team down the home stretch.
Yoan’s arrival here was driven by looking to get production out of third base. As he got here, things turned around. Travis has swung the bat well, much like he did the first month or six weeks of the season. When he’s in this type of run offensively, he’s got a bat that can almost carry the team when he gets hot.
Shaw looks poised to regain his place in the infield after going 6-for-13 with two home runs and nine RBI during Moncada’s trial period, the only bright spot in a second-half slump that saw him batting .218/.295/.435 since the All-Star break.
It’s not the last we’ll see of Moncada in 2016, as the rookie infielder reportedly still has a place on the Sox’ bench through the end of the regular season. With Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw spearheading the platoon at third base, however, we’ll likely have to wait until spring to see Moncada reach his full potential in the AL East.