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Red Sox promoting Yoan Moncada, baseball’s top prospect

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes a major prospect promotion, the most surprising players of 2016, and the farm version of Jose Bautista.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

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Yoan Moncada was considered one of the best prospects in the minors before 2016 even began. Then he went out and hit .307/.427/.496 for High-A Salem — a league where the average player is older than Moncada and hit just .258/.333/.387 — and found himself at the top (or close to it) of a number of midseason prospect lists. The 21-year-old was promoted to Double-A, where he’s hit .277/.379/.531 with 11 homers while switching from second to third base. That position change happened because Dustin Pedroia is on the Red Sox at the keystone, and Boston needs help at third. They might get it out of Moncada, since the Red Sox announced that he’ll be promoted in time for Friday’s trip to Oakland to face the A’s.

This is the second major promotion from Double-A the Sox have had this year, as Moncada is following in the footsteps of Andrew Benintendi, who is currently on the disabled list thanks to a knee injury. Moncada isn’t quite at Benintendi’s level of preparedness — while Moncada was hitting well against Eastern League opponents, he’s also striking out 31 percent of the time and has struggled against lefties. Boston has been getting little out of third base since June, however — the Sox are collectively hitting .225/.284/.326 at third since Travis Shaw’s slide began on June 5 — and they do have Aaron Hill around to face the lefties giving Moncada trouble. While Hill hasn’t helped much so far, the plan makes sense on paper, and it’ll likely help keep Moncada from whiffing at the same rate he has at Double-A.

Boston is likely hoping for a little of the magic Xander Bogaerts provided as a 20-year-old rookie back in 2013. John Farrell had a similar hole at third that he needed to fill, so Bogaerts switched from short to third. While he was below-average in his debut season, he was also better than what the Red Sox had been rolling out there beforehand, and even ended up playing in all six games of the World Series. As the team currently holding the first Wild Card spot, Boston has a long way to go before we can talk about Moncada copying Bogaerts to that degree, but you can see what the hope and goal of this roster shakeup is.