With rosters set to expand on Friday, the Red Sox will add Yoan Moncada to the 40-man roster and call him up to the majors, answering the pre-game prayers of manager John Farrell and, probably, no small portion of the fanbase.
He will, for the record, be eligible for the playoffs by virtue of replacing any of Boston's various 60-day DL players.
Many will compare this to the promotion of Andrew Benintendi one month ago, and for obvious reasons. These are the two best prospects the Red Sox have seen since Xander Bogaerts was called up in 2013 (Betts has emerged as clearly the best player, but his time as a top prospect was sudden, unexpected, and as a result, a bit uncertain), with Benintendi widely considered one of baseball's top-20 entering the year, and Moncada often standing alone as the top overall prospect in the game.
As easy as it is to draw the comparison, though, it's also pretty easy to see the differences. And those differences aren't exactly positive, at least for the immediate future.
Andrew Benintendi's call-up was certainly dictated in part by the needs of the major league team. Bryce Brentz was clearly not cutting it with all the Sox' left fielders hitting the disabled list. At the same time, though, Benintendi had completely forced his way out of the minors. In his last month in Double-A, Benintendi passed his test with such flying colors as to make even a promotion to Triple-A seem entirely unnecessary. There were just no big holes to be poked in his game.
The same is not true for Yoan Moncada. Certainly, the Red Sox are in need of help at third base. Every once in a while they'll get a solid performance or two--Shaw three days ago, Hill on Wednesday--but generally speaking the hot corner has been an absolute black hole since Shaw cooled off. In the second half, Sox third baseman are hitting to a remarkably low .574 OPS.
That being said, the transition to the majors might not be nearly so easy for Moncada as it was for Benintendi. Moncada's performance in Double-A has been extremely impressive, but not without some red flags. Moncada has struggled some with contact issues, particularly against southpaws. It's easy to imagine him getting eaten alive by lefty off-speed pitches, at least off the bat, and even from the left side of the plate, there's certainly a chance that Moncada's minor league success will not immediately translate to the majors. He could be a huge spark, or he could be completely unready. Where with Benintendi the likelihood seemed to be that he would at least contribute, with Moncada the probabilities are less certain.
But he's going to be hard-pressed to actually be worse than what the Red Sox have received from third base over the last couple months, and that's really all the argument the Sox need right now. Unless they were planning to leave him off the major league roster until the first couple weeks of 2017 had passed, it's not that big a deal to start his clock now. And given that this is a team trying to make a playoff push, September is probably not the time to be dancing around service time considerations. The Moncada era is about to begin, and while there's no guarantee it's going to get off to a great start, the Red Sox don't have all that much to lose in giving it a shot.