Too soon to judge Yoan Moncada as switch hitter, White Sox hitting coach says
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If switch hitter Yoan Moncada’s struggles from the right side of the plate continue, the notion that he should scrap switch hitting and stick to batting left-handed could gain traction.
For now, though, give that thought a rest, hitting coach Todd Steverson said. For Steverson, it’s much too soon even to discuss it and “make a judgment on the right side.’’
“When you’re 23, and this is your second full season [playing baseball in the U.S.], you don’t want to give up on something that’s a potential asset before you’ve exhausted every option and say this might not be a thing to do,’’ Steverson said. “Right now, give him time.’’
Batting left-handed against Indians right-hander Adam Plutko in the first inning of the White Sox’ 5-1 win over the Indians Tuesday, Moncada led off with a homer to center field. He finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, all from the left side.
All nine of Moncada’s homers this season are from the left side. In his young career, Moncada entered Tuesday with a .247/.340/.452 hitting line with 14 homers in 357 plate appearances batting left-handed. Batting right he was at .192/.264/.292 with two homers in 144 plate appearances, including a .153 average this season.
“I have plenty of confidence in my approach,’’ Moncada said through an interpreter after the game. “I’m pretty sure and pretty confident that things are going to turn out and going to be in my favor now.”
A long time coming
The Sox clubhouse was filled with fog after right-hander James Shields (2-7, 4.63 ERA), who allowed one run over seven innings to win for the first time since opening day, halted a streak of 12 starts without a victory even though he has pitched six innings or more in 10 consecutive starts.
“We’re trying to enjoy the moment,” Shields said. “We’re trying to celebrate each win.’’
At 36, Shields “doesn’t have the same stuff that he once had,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said, “so he’s learned how to live on the corners, to get guys to hit off his pitches. We didn’t make the adjustment fast enough, and he went out there and [stuck it to us].’’
Bullish on Sox’ top pick
In middle infielder Nick Madrigal, who will be playing in the College World Series for Oregon State, the Sox got someone general manager Rick Hahn calls “arguably the best all-around college player in the country” with the fourth overall pick in the draft last week.
“Tremendous feel for the barrel. Does the little things well,’’ Hahn said. “Saw it in super regional, hitting behind the runner, pulling off the hit and run, plus speed, defensive ability with very strong chance to be a premium defender up the middle and an important cog at the top of the lineup.’’
Madrigal technically isn’t a prospect yet because he hasn’t signed, but that didn’t stop FanGraphs from compiling a new list of recent draftees and ranking Madrigal No. 33.
With two scoreless innings, the Sox bullpen extended its scoreless innings streak to 21⅔ consecutive scoreless innings dating back to the ninth inning last Tuesday at Minnesota. The pen owns a 1.75 ERA in June. Joakim Soria recorded the final out for his fifth consecutive save.