ESPN The Magazine

“ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE READY FOR ALL THIS?”

Two years after Cuban slugger Yoan Moncada became the highest-paid prospect ever, those closest to him wonder which side will win out: the fast-living kid or the hardworking phenom.

ALEX VEGA HAS built his auto business in Miami fulfilling outlandish demands from the rich and famous, but one day in the winter of 2015 he got a call from a client with a request Vega could hardly fathom.

Ten cars?” Vega remembers asking the caller, trying to suppress his disbelief. “You want to start out with 10 customized cars?”

On the other end of the line was Yoan Moncada, an entirely unproven teenager who was also the highest-paid 19-year-old in the history of baseball. He had been in the country for a handful of months, and he had yet to play a major league game in the United States. His last means of transportation had been his older sibling’s hand-me-down bicycle, which he had pedaled 3 miles each day down a dirt road to a baseball stadium on the southern coast of Cuba. Now he planned to drive his new fleet of cars under his baseball agent’s insurance policy.

Moncada told Vega he wanted to begin by purchasing and customizing a BMW i8, then a Lamborghini Huracán and a BMW X6—more than $500,000 in all. Moncada said he wanted the luxury cars souped-up and ready for spring training. Then he made one last request: He asked that each car be stamped with a personalized logo of his initials.

“Are you sure you’re ready for all this?” Vega asked him.

It is the same question many in baseball now pose to Moncada, whose talent has developed with a hyperspeed that’s forced the rest of his life to catch up. In less than two years, he’s moved from Cuba to Ecuador to Guatemala to the United States. At 19, the switch-hitting second baseman shattered MLB’s record international signing bonus, earning a $31.5 million payday—four times more than what he could

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