KC Royals: What to Expect from Raul Mondesi
If you haven’t heard yet, the KC Royals announced earlier today that top prospect Raul Mondesi has been included on the Royals World Series roster. The move is a surface level head scratcher, seeing that Mondesi is 20 and has never played above the AA level, where he sported a paltry .651 OPS.
However, with Mondesi replacing Terrance Gore, it is fair to speculate that Mondesi is not here for his bat. Gore has been the subject of speculation throughout September and into October due to his limited skill set, so his removal isn’t all that surprising.
With Paulo Orlando and Jonny Gomes clogging up the outfield spectrum in Kansas City, Gore’s postseason roster spot was up for grabs until the day it was released, with some fans unhappy that Gomes was left off.
If you will remember with me, the Royals were about to begin a series against the Astros, who were going to start left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir for at least two of the five games in the series.
Gomes, who has a career .855 OPS and .206 ISO against left-handed pitching, was considered for the last outfield spot before Ned Yost and company ultimately ruled in favor of Gore.
One of the issues with carrying Gore is that he occupies a valuable roster spot while only having one tool. Gomes, although he only possess one legitimate tool, could hypothetically be stuck out in right or left field and put together good at-bats, even if it wasn’t against left-handed pitching.
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Gore, on the other hand, is nowhere near ready to hit at the major league level and, despite his speed, struggles defensively.
This is purely speculation, but you have to think that Mondesi being added as to have as much to do with Gore’s limitations than Mondesi’s skill set. And with three games set to take place in an NL park, having a lame duck outfielder doesn’t bode well for any potential lineup turnover. Which brings us to what Mondesi brings to the table.
If you want to see what he brings in the future, read this scouting report done on Mondesi back in 2014.
For the sake of what he brings to this series, however, we’ll just focus on his speed and his defense.
With Gore now off the roster, the KC Royals are going to lose a little speed. That’s a given.
But let’s not get anything confused here. Mondesi can fly.
The above scouting report has Mondesi’s speed grade at a 70, with Wittmann saying he has a “serious second gear.” He also adds that Mondesi has “long, graceful strides,” as well as the ability to read balls in play well. So as a base runner, the Royals are going to lose speed, but only because Gore is just that fast.
What propelled Mondesi over Gore, however, is his ability to play defense at a premier position and the ability to do it well.
As we covered earlier, the real issue with carrying Gore, especially in the World Series where the DH will be eliminated, is the fact that he becomes has the potential of becoming a liability late in games because of his inability to stay on the field.
I don’t expect anything from Mondesi’s bat, but he walks into the clubhouse having never played above the AA level and he arguably becomes the clubs second best middle infielder upon entry.
Wittmann graded his defense tool out at a 70 future grade, while his arm topped out at 60, which will likely over-qualify him for this series, considering any innings he plays will be at second base, not shortstop.
Here’s Wittmann’s full evaluation of Mondesi’s defense:
"Silky smooth actions; soft hands; great reactions off the bat with quick first step; range is plus-plus; can make backhand pick in the hole; plus instincts on the field; lightening quick transfer from glove to hand; collects himself well when throwing on the run; presently a 60 but with reps could even get better."
The plus-plus range is what stuck out to me.
I don’t envision him playing a ton of innings, if any, in field during this world series, but if he does, the middle infield will be on lock down.
Escobar already brings elite defense to the shortstop position, and Mondesi will bring elite potential to the second base position, a position in which he spent 156 innings at this season.
Let’s be clear. I have no real expectation for Mondesi in this World Series, and you probably shouldn’t either. His bat is not major league ready and with Escobar and Ben Zobrist manning the middle infield, he’s probably not going to see a whole lot of playing time, outside of being a pinch runner and maybe a defensive replacement.
But it’s hard not to be excited about a player with his speed and defensive ability being added to the roster. With the KC Royals about to play up to three games of national league baseball, his skill set could prove valuable in the Royals title hopes.