Moncada flashes defense in first spring start

'He's a pretty special kid,' McEwing says of No. 2 prospect in MLB

Moncada flashes defense in first spring start

MESA, Ariz. -- The comparisons between Seattle's Robinson Cano and the White Sox Yoan Moncada seem easy to make.

They have similar physical builds, high levels of athleticism and both are power-packed second basemen. Cano even had indirect influence on the name of Moncada's young son and bat-flip specialist, Robinson.

Spring Training info

Of course, Cano has 278 career homers and two Gold Gloves over 12 big league seasons, while Moncada, 21, has played eight Major League games in total. So it might be a little early for the parallels to be drawn.

"For sure, those things motivate you," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "When you're compared to those types of players, one of the best in baseball, you want to push yourself more to the limits and to show them what you're able to do."

"You know, it's a tough comparison. You just want him to be Yoan Moncada," said White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing, who also works with the team's infielders. "What he can control is being himself and not trying to go out and do anything else. What he is is a pretty special kid."

Moncada talks about his spring

Moncada made his first start for the White Sox Monday at Sloan Park, facing the defending World Series-champion Cubs in an eventual 4-4 tie. He made his presence felt immediately, diving up the middle to take a hit away from Anthony Rizzo and starting a double play to take Lucas Giolito out of a first-and-second, no-out situation.

McEwing mentioned great instincts on Moncada's part, with the No. 2 prospect in baseball, per MLBPipeline.com, doing things that make you take a step back in amazement. Other players probably couldn't execute the same moves.

"He's a very talented individual," McEwing said. "He's got tremendous feet and tremendous hands. He gets off the ball very well. When he continues to get polished, he's going to be a very good player."

Moncada dives to turn two

Jose Abreu, Moncada's teammate with Cienfuegos in Cuba, stood next to Moncada on the field Monday. Abreu also has been helping him with at-bats and tips on preparing for games and the regular season.

"I've been feeling good. The atmosphere here is good," Moncada said. "The guys have been outstanding with me, and I'm getting to know them. I'm happy to be here.

"My focus is just to try to get better in every aspect of the game: my offense, my defense, my baserunning, too. It's the mentality we have here right now, and I'm just trying to take advantage of it."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.