Jonathan Mayo

Cuban phenom Moncada impressive in workout

19-year-old infielder on display in Guatemala, showing five-tool skills

Cuban phenom Moncada impressive in workout

Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada worked out in Guatemala on Wednesday in front of an estimated 60-70 scouts, and all reports point to the teenaged infielder being as good as advertised.

The 19-year-old Moncada was put through his paces, running a 60-yard dash, taking batting practice and infield at three positions, showing the kind of five-tool potential that has led scouts to compare him to fellow Cubans Jorge Soler and Yasiel Puig. Because Moncada is under 23 and has not played in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, he will be subjected to the international signing guidelines, meaning any bonus he receives will come from a team's international bonus spending pool.

It's still unclear if Moncada would be eligible to sign during the 2014-15 international signing period, which started July 2 and ends June 15, 2015, or during the 2015-16 signing period, which starts on July 2, 2015. But one thing seems more certain: Whenever he's available, teams should be willing to max out, and go beyond their pools, even if it means incurring penalties that limit spending in future years.

"He's worth going way over your international spending pool, in my opinion," one scouting director said. "This game is about talent and Moncada is the kind of talent worth the investment."

Different sources had Moncada timed differently in the 60-yard dash, though he ran somewhere in the 6.56- to 6.6-second range. That gives him a 70 for his speed on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, or close to the top of the scale. Moncada reportedly looked better at third and second than he did at shortstop, with enough arm from any infield position. He swung the bat well from both sides of the plate, showing plus raw power both ways. The only negative was that Moncada didn't face live pitching, hitting only off of a BP pitcher. When asked to grade out his tools based on this workout, in combination with previous reports, one scout gave the following grades:

Hit -- 60
Power -- 60
Speed -- 70
Arm -- 60
Field -- 50

"Moncada had a great workout, showing his five-tool potential," one scout in attendance said. "He is in great shape. Unfortunately, he was not able to hit off live game pitching. We will need to see him off of live pitching to command the top dollars they are looking for."

It remains to be seen which teams will be in the sweepstakes. Some of that might depend on when Moncada is deemed eligible. The native of Cienfuegos established residency in Guatemala and is petitioning for free agency with Major League Baseball. He must still be unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can come into a final agreement with a club, and it's unclear how long that process will take.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays have a reputation for being aggressive on the international market, having spent more than 15 percent above their allotted bonus pools and are in the maximum penalty range for the 2014-15 signing period. The penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their pool overage and prohibits them from signing any pool-eligible player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods. Those three clubs will not be able to sign Moncada if he becomes eligible to sign after June 15.

The Cubs and Rangers, on the other hand, can't sign an international player for more than $250,000 during this signing period after exceeding their pools last period by more than 15 percent. They would benefit from Moncada not becoming available until after June 15.

The Yankees, Braves, Red Sox and Cubs all reportedly had four or more scouts in attendance to watch Moncada, who played for Cuba's top team of 15- and 16-year-olds and starred at the U-16 IBAF World Baseball Championships in Mexico. He played for Cienfuegos at age 17 and hit .277 over parts of two seasons, playing with Jose Abreu and Erisbel Arruebarrena.

Moncada was on Cuba's preliminary roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic before he was granted his release from Cienfuegos this year, and cleared by Cuba's National Baseball Commission to leave Cuba, not the typical cloak-and-dagger exercises that have often led to top Cuban players becoming available to Major League clubs.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.