Manifesting or characterized by unusually early development or maturity – precocious
Three minor league players this year fall into the category of young for their level and showing signs that they are going to grow into players that could be very important in the big leagues over the next couple of years. Adalberto Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Jorge Bonifacio all had varying levels of success against advanced competition in 2013, and should be some of the most watched prospects in the orginazation.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi
Mondesi is listed as Raul or Adalberto depending on where you look. His father, and namesake, had a very long and productive major league career starting with a rookie of the year for the Dodgers in 1994, and ending with 271 HRs and 229 SBs. A power/speed guy with two 30/30 years to his name. The next generation seems to be showing some promise as well. Adalberto just went through a full season league as a 17 year old (turned 18 in July), which just doesn’t happen very often. He had an up and down year ending in a .261/.311/.361 line that looks uninspiring. But he is only 18 and already producing in the Sally League for Lexington, and he would still be young for a rookie if it takes him a full 4 years to reach the majors from this point.
The other big part for Mondesi is the 7 HRs he hit. That doesn’t sound like much, but for a SS at that age that is pretty substantial power. Jurickson Profar vaulted to one of the best prospects in the game from a similar situation. Profar, while 5 months older than Mondesi at the time, went through A ball and hit .286/.390/.493 with 12 HRs. Obviously the Profar line is a step up, but the extra half year of seasoning gave him some low A experience prior while Mondesi jumped straight from rookie ball. Alcides Escobar at a full year older than Mondesi only managed 2 HRs in A ball. There is a lot of potential here, and he has the potential to explode onto the scene like Profar did in 2012.
. In my opinion he did not disappoint though many seem unimpressed by his 2013 campaign. The first month of the year went very poorly, but then Cheslor figured out high A Wilmington (otherwise known as hitting purgatory). He hit a total line of .280/.354/.418 there before moving to AA, and for that league that is a pretty impressive line. He won’t turn 21 until November, so he is still ahead of Beltran at this point in his career and just needs a big jump at AA next year to continue the pattern. In May Cuthbert hit .263/.345/.444 and then only played 11 games for Wilmington in June because he started raking a .394/.488/.658 line.
Northwest Arkansas was a little rough as he ended with a .215/.279/.359 line, but he did show some serious pop for a 20 year old by knocking out 6 home runs in just 64 games. If he figures out double A next year this could be a starter on the Royals by 2015. If you comp him to Mike Moustakas, he is on a better trajectory. Moose played a full season in Wilmington as a 20 year old and hit .250/.297/.421, so Cuthbert is still looking like he is well on his way.
No one else in the minors had a season at the plate like Bonifacio for the Royals this season. He came out destroying Wilmington and he only turned 20 in June, so a full 7 months younger than
Cuthbert. Then he broke his hamate bone and missed a month, came back and got promoted to AA where he kept on hitting. His high A line was .296/.368/.408, again this park his typically rough on hitters. Bonifacio then went to NW Arkansas and hit .301/.371/.441 (only 25 games), which is pretty ridiculous for someone who turned 20 less than 2 months before arriving in AA.
The necessary comp here is Wil Myers since those are the shoes Bonifacio will be expected to fill in right field. Myers destroyed Wilmington as a 19 year old to the tune of .346/.453/.572, and went on to be the best hitting prospect in baseball. It is not likely that Jorge can repeat that, but he is playing well enough that it is not completely out of the question. He also will probably never hit for power like Myers, but will not strike out as much so they are not the same type of hitter anyway.
The best thing about these three players in particular is not that they have the highest ceilings of anyone in the Royals system, which in my opinion they do. It is that they are those players at three positions that are question marks in the big leagues. Right field, short stop, and third base are definitely question marks right now for the big league club and it is good to know that possible long-term answers may be there from an internal source.
Now short stop we are talking about several years as I expect Mondesi will be starting in Wilmington next season, so an early arrival would be a cup of coffee at the end of the 2015 season. The other two though, they are getting close. It is not out of the question that Bonifacio could be in the big leagues for half of next year if he is promoted like Eric Hosmer was in a similar situation. Cuthbert is a little farther off, but late next year would also be a possibility depending on how he does early next season.