Moncada, Torres head down to Minors

Atlanta's Albies reassigned; Giolito, Lopez ticketed for Charlotte

Yoan Moncada hit .317 with three home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.074 OPS this spring. (Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Chris Tripodi / | March 21, 2017 10:36 PM

Six days after blasting two home runs in a Spring Training game and two days after going 3-for-5 with another long ball, Yoan Moncada leads a host of top White Sox prospects headed back to the Minors. Gleyber Torres' time in Yankees big league camp also came to an end, while Ozzie Albies returned to the Minors for the Braves.

Moncada,'s No. 2 overall prospect, was sent to Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, as were three of the team's other top five prospects. Chicago's second-ranked prospect Lucas Giolito (No. 11 overall), No. 4 prospect Reynaldo Lopez (No. 46 overall) and fifth-ranked prospect Carson Fulmer (No. 71 overall) will join him on the Knights roster to start the season.

Moncada made an impression on the team this spring, batting .317/.391/.683 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 46 plate appearances. The switch-hitting second baseman struck out in 12 of his 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox last September after hitting 15 home runs with 45 stolen bases and a .918 OPS for Salem and Double-A Portland, but he looks ready for an early-season call-up after the release of veteran second baseman Brett Lawrie.

Torres ranks as baseball's top shortstop prospect as well as the Yankees' top prospect. The 20-year-old hit .464 (13-for-28) with two homers and nine RBIs in 18 Grapefruit League games. With New York's starting shortstop Didi Gregorious out for the first month of the regular season with a right-shoulder injury, GM Brian Cashman put to rest any speculation that Torres might leapfrog the top two levels of the Minors to fill the hole. The Venezuela native produced a .254/.341/.385 line in 31 games with Class A Advanced Tampa last season after coming over from the Cubs at the deadline in the Aroldis Chapman deal.

"We've got to make important decisions, and one of them is not to overreact to an injury to Didi at the expense of Gleyber," Cashman told "Gleyber's time, I think, is coming at some point. Whenever it's going to be, it's going to be. But it doesn't have to be right now, especially when we have other options that we can look at in the short term."

Albies left Atlanta's Grapefruit League game against Houston on Tuesday with a right-knee contusion for what the team deemed "preventative measures." After the game, the club sent the 20-year-old infielder down to Minor League camp. The second-ranked Braves prospect finished 6-for-16 with a stolen base in 11 Spring Training contests. Ranked as baseball's tenth overall prospect, he compiled a .292/.358/.420 line in 138 games between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett last season.

Giolito had a 5.59 ERA with six strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings this spring. Like Moncada, he struggled in his Major League debut last season -- posting a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings with an 11-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the Nationals -- after a strong season in the Minors, where he went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 115 1/3 frames across three levels.

Coming off six scoreless innings Monday, Lopez wrapped up Spring Training with a 3.72 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. His Major League debut in 2016 yielded mixed results -- his 5-3 record came with a 4.91 ERA and 42-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings -- but his 3.21 ERA and 126-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 109 1/3 innings for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse portend better numbers in the future.

The lone prospect on this list who was with the organization at the end of last season, Fulmer saw his 2016 struggles in the Majors -- an 8.49 ERA in 11 2/3 innings of relief -- carry over into Spring Training, as the 23-year-old right-hander allowed three home runs in 14 2/3 frames, resulting in a 6.14 ERA despite 15 strikeouts and four walks.

Additionally, Chicago's No. 3 prospect Michael Kopech -- ranked No. 16 overall -- was reassigned to Minor League camp. He struck out 11 batters in six spring innings, but also posted a 7.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. The hard-throwing 20-year-old finished last season with Class A Advanced Salem in Boston's system, where he went 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA and an 82-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52 innings.

In other moves, the Astros optioned outfielder Teoscar Hernandez and third baseman Colin Moran to Minor League camp. Both players will head to Triple-A Fresno. Hernandez, Houston's seventh-ranked prospect, batted .222 in 15 Grapefruit League games. He hit .230 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 41 big league games last season. Moran finished with a .389 average and 10 RBIs in 19 Grapefruit League contests. The 24-year-old is rated the Astros' No. 25 prospect.

Chris Tripodi is an editor for Follow him on Twitter @christripodi. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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