At last, Yoan Moncada gets to show fans what the hype is about

GREENVILLE, S.C. — For his first batting practice with the Greenville Drive, Yoan Moncada had to borrow a teammate’s batting helmet.He’d forgotten to ask the clubhouse at

tendant for one of his own when he arrived at Fluor Field, home of Boston’s low Single-A farm club, so he used Mauricio Dubon’s helmet when it wasn’t Dubon’s turn at the plate. It was quite the welcome to the club. MORE: Moncada's Florida debut drew one fan | Scouting the Prospects: Carlos CorreaThat hiccup didn’t stop him from spraying line drives around the field, of course. The 19-year-old switch hitter — he turns 20 on May 27 — arrived in Greenville with lofty expectations. The Red Sox gave Moncada a $31.5 million signing bonus in March after he defected from Cuba, and he’s been in Fort Myers, Fla., for extended spring training since.Despite those expectations, the Red Sox have preached patience since signing Moncada, and Moncada said repeatedly during Monday’s pregame media session — through translator Laz Gutierrez, who is one of Boston’s mental skills coaches in the minor leagues — that he understood and welcomed that approach.Still, Monday’s game in Greenville was a welcome change of scenery.“He says he loves playing in front of a lot of people, a lot of fans,” Gutierrez said as Moncada offered a laugh that needed no translation. “That was one of the things about Fort Myers that was driving him a little crazy.” I'm told 144 of these Yoan Moncada shirts were ordered for tonight. $25 a pop.— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) May 18, 2015Moncada was in the starting lineup Monday, batting sixth and playing second base for the Drive. Whether that’s his eventual position remains to be seen — perennial All-Star Dustin Pedroia plays there for the Red Sox and his current deal runs through 2021 — but that’s where he’ll play primarily for Greenville. He played shortstop and second base in Cuba, and his bat projects well enough to play either corner outfield spot or even third base in the majors.That’s not at the top of his thought process at the moment. Moncada used his time in Fort Myers to become more familiar with his new organization, one he admittedly knew little about before he signed.“He thinks that he has a better understanding of what the organizational philosophy is, what the fundamental philosophy is,” Gutierrez said, translating Moncada’s answer. “He’s taken advantage of that since he’s been here, learning what it is and he hopes that at some point, whether it’s this year or the next or the year after that, help this team win a World Series and be a productive member of the organization.”His transition from Cuba into the Boston organization was made a little easier by talking with outfielder Rusney Castillo, a fellow Cuban who signed a reported six-year, $72.5 million contract with the Sox last August.“The first one he sought out was Rusney, and Rusney sought him out, as well,” said Gutierrez, again translating Moncada’s reply. “They had a long conversation in spring training, and Rusney provided great insight, not only about the organization, but baseball here in the United States, and he thinks that’s helped him out a lot. One of the things that really was highlighted in that conversation was discipline, and how disciplined the game is here in the United States.”UPDATE: Moncada had what could be described as a rusty debut. He grounded out twice and reached on an error, but he also showed good patience by refusing to chase pitches and drawing a walk with runners on second and third and one out in the third inning. That was smack dab in the middle of a seven-run rally for the Drive; he scored both times he reached base.With runners on second and third with one out, Moncada shows a bit more patience and draws a walk.— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) May 19, 2015“That first AB, he had the butterflies going,” Gutierrez said. “Thereafter, he settled down a bit. He wished the results would have been better, but they weren’t.”In the field, he made a couple of nice plays, including a spectacular grab of a would-be line-drive RBI single to end the Lexington third inning. He also, though, committed an error (failing to field a sharp grounder) in the middle of Lexington’s six-run sixth. Which play stuck with him more, the snag or the error? “He likes to focus on the positives, so definitely the line drive,” Gutierrez said. And now Game 1 is in the books. "His tools, the body, he looks like what you’d want a big league player to look like in a uniform," Greenville manager Darren Fenster said. "I think what we have to understand is this is still a kid. He's going to have expectations tied to him for the number he signed for for his entire career. He's here for the same reason other guys are here, he's got some work to be done in order to get better and eventually move up the ladder like everybody else."

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