Red Sox promote top prospect Yoan Moncada to Double-A

BOSTON -- Yoan Moncada is New England-bound.

Moncada, the Boston Red Sox's top prospect, was promoted Sunday to Double-A Portland (Maine), according to an announcement by the club's Class A Salem affiliate. In 61 games for Salem, the 21-year-old Cuban second baseman batted .307 with a .427 on-base percentage, 25 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 36 stolen bases and a .923 OPS.

The Red Sox made a splash in February 2015 when they outbid several teams, including the New York Yankees, to sign Moncada to a $31.5 million bonus, a record for an international amateur. They also were hit with a $31.5 million tax by Major League Baseball for exceeding their bonus pool for international signings, but for a five-tool talent like Moncada, they believed the penalty was well worth it.

"I felt the same way about Moncada that I felt about [Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig," Red Sox amateur scout Paul Fryer said after the team signed Moncada. "There was no way I wanted to see this guy playing for another club."

Moncada made a solid minor league debut last season, batting .278 with a .380 on-base percentage, 19 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 49 steals and an .817 OPS at Class A Greenville. But he took another step forward at Salem, impressing the organization with his advanced knowledge of the strike zone. In 228 at-bats, Moncada drew 45 walks and struck out only 60 times.

At the March 2015 news conference to announce his signing, Moncada said he hoped to be in the big leagues within a year. His progression through the minor leagues has been far more gradual, the Red Sox taking care not to rush him as he adapted to professional baseball and life in the United States.

Now, though, Moncada might be able to accelerate his path by duplicating his Class A success in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

"I have one goal, and that's getting to the big leagues," Moncada said through an interpreter before spring training. "Now I understand the process a little better than I did coming into it. Whether it's this year, next year, whenever it is, I know bit by bit I've got to just keep working hard and it will be great when it happens. It's not so much of a straight deadline as I had before."

At the very least, Moncada is getting closer.