Yoan Moncada isn't going to play second base in the majors for the Red Sox. There's nothing surprising about that sentence you just read -- Mookie Betts was already moved off of second because Dustin Pedroia exists, and since Pedroia is under contract through 2021 and is still pretty good at the whole baseball thing, Moncada won't be the one to push him off the keystone, either.
Moncada is going to keep playing second base in the minors, though, at least for now. There is a reason for that, and it's not to toy with you and keep up the mystery of where Moncada will eventually play. It has to do with Boston's philosophy for player development. Remember, prospects aren't just in the minors to learn how to hit pitches from more and more advanced opponents. They're also refining their defensive techniques and learning how to take what coaches say to them and turn it into production with a glove.
Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen, who knows a little something about player development from his time as director of that department as well as his role as vice president of player development and amateur scouting, explained Boston's process for moving players to new positions to WEEI's Rob Bradford:
"...wherever that primary spot is, we usually like to take care of that first, and if that comes along the way we like it to, great. Sometimes that happens in Double-A and sometimes that happens in Triple-A.
One of the downsides of switching positions is that if you end up being mediocre at multiple positions that doesn't fly that great with the major league staff, who want proficiency. So we need to make sure that base position is proficient. And usually at the lower minors, in Double-A, we're still working on those things."
So, Moncada isn't going to change positions until he's a decent second baseman. As he's either going to be in High-A or Double-A to begin 2016, we probably aren't too far off from the time where he has the grasp of second base that the Sox need him to. Given Moncada's defense at Low-A Greenville, though, where he made 23 errors in half-a-season, that time is not now.
This policy makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons outside of what the major-league coaching staff requires from its players. For one, you don't want to burden a developing player with too much information -- they're already learning how to improve defensively at the same time they're taking on more experienced and talented performers after each promotion. Throwing in learning a new position on top of all that can be a little much, but it's simpler if they already have a handle on, as Hazen referred to it, their "base" position.
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Plus, not that the Sox are looking to deal Moncada, but if an opportunity to move him (or any prospect) ever came up, he'd be more valuable in a deal if he knows how to play at least one position at a major-league level. In general, this is a good thing to keep in mind -- Moncada doesn't get special treatment from coaching and the front office just because he could turn out to be better than his current teammates in the majors. He has to take the same steps as the rest, even if they might end up a bit accelerated given his talents.
More specifically speaking to Moncada, there are also some concerns on the big-league roster that need sorting out at the moment. If Pablo Sandoval fails to produce for the second year in a row and looks like a loss at third base, then the Sox might be inclined to give Moncada reps at the hot corner to prep him for that position in the majors. If Rusney Castillo or Jackie Bradley Jr. falls apart, maybe it's the outfield that Moncada is dispatched to once he has second base well in hand.
And, as much as you don't want to picture this possibility, it's worth keeping in mind: If Dustin Pedroia breaks his leg in August while Moncada is hitting .300 with a disciplined approach at Triple-A, the Sox need to know he can play second in the majors.
The Sox don't know what Moncada is going to be just yet, so even though they know he won't be a second baseman in the long run, there is no reason to force him off the position just yet. Since he doesn't quite have the experience or ability locked down at that spot, either, it's even easier for them to be patient with the whole position change thing. It's a little frustrating given we know half the story with one of Boston's prized pieces of the future, but the rest will come to us when Moncada has proven himself ready.