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Starting at AAA ‘difficult’ but Yoan Moncada accepts decision

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yoan Moncada cost the Red Sox $63 million, and the $31.5 million signing bonus he got made him the highest-paid MLB prospect ever.

He’s the No. 2 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America and MLBpipeline.com.

Plus, he was traded for Chris Sale, a five-time All-Star entering his prime and considered one of the best pitchers in baseball.

It all flows into one wide river of expectations, which can be a lot for a 21-year-old.

Yoan Moncada poses on Chicago White Sox Photo Day. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

But Moncada lets it all slide off his broad shoulders.

“I don’t really feel the pressure because of those situations,’’ Moncada said Thursday through a translator. “I feel good, relaxed, and I’m just trying to enjoy this team.’’

Moncada said his goal is “to be working hard and to keep enjoying the game and enjoy this opportunity.”

For now, that will be at Class AAA Charlotte, where the muscular, switch-hitting, five-tool prospect, who reminded scouts of Mike Trout and has drawn comparisons to Robinson Cano, will open the season after finishing strong in -Arizona.

Moncada batted .317 with three homers, one triple, four doubles and a team-high 13 RBI in Cactus League games. In his last seven games, he went 10-for-22 with those four doubles and three home runs.

“That was the result of my routine and my work,’’ he said. “I was also feeling more comfortable at home plate with my swing, with my rhythm. That was the reason I had better results at the end.’’

The late run began after he struck out four consecutive times March 12 against the Dodgers. In his fifth at-bat, he doubled off the left-field wall.

Moncada still needs to work on his fielding. He made five errors this spring, some on routine ground balls. He has worked with coach Joe McEwing on widening his base and improving his footwork in the infield.

He had 207 plate appearances at Class AA and 284 at high Class A with the Red Sox last season, which isn’t much. There quite possibly is more to be gained at the minor-league level. And waiting till May to call him up saves the Sox a year of service time.

The Red Sox were so high on Moncada’s talent that they paid a 100 percent luxury tax on his signing bonus. Moncada believes, as most top prospects do, that he’s ready now. But he seems to understand all that is involved.

“It was kind of difficult for
me, but it wasn’t my decision to make,’’ Moncada said. “It was
their decision and for me to accept it.’’

Follow me on Twitter@CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com