Jose Iglesias has been in Yoan Moncada’s shoes. The former Boston Red Sox shortstop, now with the Detroit Tigers, thus understands what the Cuban prospect is going through during his transition to life as a professional baseball player in the United States.
Moncada received a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox in spring training at age 19, which is the same age Iglesias was when he signed with Boston for $8.25 million back in 2009. Iglesias, like Moncada, spoke little English upon arriving in the United States from Cuba. Now, Iglesias is comfortable speaking the native language and suggests Moncada follow a similar route.
“Pick an American roommate, try to learn English as quick as possible, and work hard every day,” Iglesias told reporters earlier this week at the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities in Cincinnati. “I heard he has amazing talent. He’s just got to put in the effort and he’ll be in the big leagues soon.”
As Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington noted in spring training, Iglesias can serve as a cautionary tale for the organization. Boston rushed Iglesias through its system a bit too fast after his professional debut in 2010. The Sox don’t want to make the same mistake with Moncada, especially considering they invested $63 million in the young infielder. (The Red Sox were required to pay MLB a 100 percent tax on Moncada’s $31.5 million bonus because they exceeded their allotted international bonus pool.)
So perhaps it’ll be a few years before Moncada, now 20 years old, makes his way to Boston despite his recent surge at Single-A Greenville. He’d be wise to heed Iglesias’ advice in the meantime. Iglesias, who was traded from the Red Sox to the Tigers in the 2013 Jake Peavy deal, earned his first All-Star selection this season and quickly has solidified himself as one of the best shortstops in the American League.
“When you can communicate with your teammates, with your coaching staff, every time you go to a hotel somewhere and you’re able to say something in English,” Iglesias told reporters, “that definitely helps with your comfort level.”
The sky is the limit for Moncada. The little things, like quickly learning English, could go a long way toward helping him meet the lofty expectations surrounding him in the Red Sox organization.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@JMastrodonato