Yoan Moncada answers a question at his Friday press conference. (WEEI.com)

Takeaways from Yoan Moncada's introductory press conference

Rob Bradford
March 13, 2015 - 9:52 am
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FORT MYERS Fla. -- Yoan Moncada -- the 19-year-old who just put pen to paper Thursday, agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Red Sox that will pay him a signing bonus of $31.5 million -- was hard to miss when walking into the JetBlue Park interview room. Wearing a back suit with an orange shirt, Moncada's arms put the jacket's fabric to the test while joining Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and international scouting director Eddie Romero at the head table. The journey had been a surreal one for all involved, most of which were in attendance. (To read more about how Moncada landed with the Red Sox, click here.) Along the side wall sat Moncada's 27-year-old mentor, and new Red Sox outfielder, Carlos Mesa, who was joined by his wife and young daughter. Next to him was Jo Hastings, the Cuban-born wife of David Hastings, who had served as the player's representatives throughout the process. And finally was an unidentified final member of the tight-knit group, a friend of the Hastings who works for the St. Petersburg, Fla. police department and helped with security for the young player. And then there was Hastings, who sat among the media. Through nine months of life-altering instances, this was the punctuation. The Tampa-area CPA found him smack dab in the middle of a very well attended press conference. While the questions directed at Moncada were translated by Romero, it was easy to identify which query meant the most to the infielder. Question: Has Hastings been like a father to you since arriving? Answer: "Ever since I was able to come over here, he's been tremendous with me. He's been sincere and respectful, and he's really given me the care that a father would '€” just like my father back in Cuba. I'm just lucky to have found him." Moncada cut his answer short, having to pause while collecting his emotions. There was, of course, plenty of other notable items emanating from the press conference: - Moncada is slated to play second base this season, starting in Fort Myers and then eventually advancing to Single A Greenville. "Right now the position I feel most comfortable at is second base, because that'€™s where I have the most experience," Moncada said. "I've also been exposed to third base, shortstop and center field. I'm going out as a second baseman right now, and if I need to work on those other positions, I will." "As we all know, until a player is ready to help us win games at the major league level, the question of position is sort of less relevant," Cherington noted. "We know Yoan has played second base than anywhere else, so we're going to allow him to play that position. That's the position he's comfortable in. Let's let him go play for a while and see where that takes us. I will say one of the many things we appreciate about him and a big part of the scouting process, is recognizing his athletic ability and his defensive skills would allow him to play any number of positions on the field if he had to if that's what the major league team needed down the road to help win games. We'll get there when we get there. For right now, we just want to help him get started with his career. He'll play second base and we assume he'll be out at an affiliate at some point early in the season. We want to give him the appropriate time here in Fort Myers to get ready first." - The switch-hitter said he hoped for quick advancement through the minor league system, but was also realistic about the process. "My goal is to see if I can make it to the big leagues in a year, but I know not having played for so long, it's understandable that it might take more time than that," said Moncada, who hasn't played competitively since the end of Dec., 2013. - Moncada's familiarity with the Red Sox was limited because of the access to information in Cuba, but managed to get some sort of a picture thanks to conversations with Luis Tiant. "I didn't know much going in because obviously in Cuba we have limited resources to access major league content," he said. "I really didn't know much about any team, to be honest. Once I got here I appreciate the attention the Red Sox gave us at the private workout. I want to thank Luis directly because he sat down with us and explained to us what playing in Boston was like for a player with a Cuban background. I appreciate his support with all of this. Now it's just about being with the Red Sox and trying to help this team win a World Series in the future." When asked about his favorite players, he also mentioned all Red Sox. "As for players, Hanley Ramirez is somebody I've gotten to meet in the past couple days that I really look up to. [Dustin] Pedroia," Moncada said. "I haven't gotten a chance to meet David Ortiz yet. I hope I do soon. [Shane] Victorino, Pablo Sandoval '€” those are guys I've seen the past couple days and definitely guys I look up to." - Moncada also explained his recollections of going through the workouts leading up to his decision to sign with the Red Sox. The infielder said he held private workouts for about 11 teams. "Especially at the initial showcase, where I'd never done anything where I was being presented amongst 30 teams," Moncada said. "Obviously when I went out especially to start with the running, I was feeling some pressure, I was feeling nervous. As the workout went on, as I got into my defensive drills, I started feeling a lot more comfortable. That'€™s definitely something I'm not going to forget, seeing everybody that was there and going through that kind of showcase."

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