Moncada working diligently to solve offspeed

Moncada working diligently to solve offspeed

CHICAGO -- The game being played by White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada of course is baseball, but there's a little bit of chess involved between the No. 1 prospect per and opposing pitchers.

Moncada has shown an ability to hit the fastball. Just ask Houston closer Ken Giles, who gave up a game-tying home run to Moncada in the ninth inning Thursday on a 98.7-mph offering.

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But the talented switch-hitter is seeing more breaking balls until he proves he can handle that pitch. As an example, both of Moncada's strikeouts came on changeups during a 14-6 loss to the Royals Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

"My focus is try to hit a good pitch, a pitch that is in the strike zone," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo after finishing 1-for-4 with a double in the homestand finale. "Fastball is your first approach, but when you see a breaking pitch or an offspeed pitch, you have to make an adjustment.

"You have to be sure that offspeed pitch is in the strike zone because if not, you are giving a favor to the pitcher. You have to be prepared for that and do something to adjust in your at-bats during a game. That's the way I'm trying to adjust to the league. That's the way I'm trying to make adjustments: at-bat to at-bat."

Those adjustments were discussed with White Sox manager Rick Renteria in-game on Sunday. One of Renteria's strengths, especially with a rebuilding team full of young competitors, is his ability to address situations almost immediately after they happen and make them teachable moments.

That scenario played out in the White Sox dugout Saturday after Moncada was caught stealing second without a slide. It's a trait featured by the White Sox coaching staff, but Moncada also appreciates being able to talk to Renteria in his native Spanish.

"He'll always try to help us," Moncada said. "That makes you feel comfortable. That makes you feel like people, especially him, are taking care of you."

With Sunday's double and two strikeouts against Kansas City starter Jason Vargas, Moncada stands at 4-for-26 as a right-handed hitter against 11-for-47 as a left-handed hitter. He has a combined 31 strikeouts but shows plate presence via his 14 walks and .348 on-base percentage.

Renteria talked about the trouble with offspeed pitches for Moncada being more about approach. Moncada has to show he can "manipulate and manage that pitch before they start changing their plan," per Renteria, and giving Moncada fastballs.

The confidence from Renteria in Moncada, or Moncada in himself, has not wavered as the work continues.

"He's 22 years old garnering at-bats at the Major League level with guys that are throwing pretty good offspeed pitches and commanding them," Renteria said. "I will say this: In watching him work and watching his demeanor, this is a kid that will exponentially grow fast.

"These experiences and these at-bats are giving him an opportunity to register and be able to use it. He's going to start understanding how he can change his approach to handle things like this and be able to drive the pitcher back to his strength."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for 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.