KC Royals no. 1 prospect Raul Mondesi, Jr. will return from his 50-game PEDs suspension with a rehab assignment at High-A Wilmington. Mondesi could become a deadline deal bargaining chip.
Still just 20 years old, top KC Royals prospect Raul Mondesi, Jr. will get back into the swing of baseball by playing at High A, a level he hasn’t seen since he was 18 years old in 2014. Rapidly pushed through the Kansas City Royals system, Mondesi’s bat finally seemed to catch up with the rest of his baseball skills this spring at NW Arkansas, when he slashed .250/.304/.462 with 5 home runs in 104 at bats.
Mondesi, who doesn’t turn 21 until July 27, is considered by most analysts the best position player prospect in the KC Royals system and among the top prospects in baseball. Baseball Prospectus rated him the 16th best prospect before the 2016 season, with Baseball America at no. 29, and MLB.com rating him no. 37.
His development hit a wall when he failed a drug test in early May, but his 80-game first time offender suspension ended up getting reduced by MLB when he showed that the substance in question (Clenbuterol) was in an over-the-counter cold medicine he had purchased in Puerto Rico.
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Clenbuterol is typically used to cut weight, which isn’t really a problem for the 6’1″ 185 Mondesi. Though Clenbuterol does have a mild affect on muscle mass, it’s generally not used for this purpose since there are far more effective muscle builders if a player is inclined to cheat.
At this point, Mondesi looks to be the heir apparent for light-hitting Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar—who become eligible for free-agency after the 2017 season. Before Raul Mondesi’s suspension, many expected him to get a September call-up to Kansas City.
However, Mondesi could also become a bargaining chip as the August 1 trade deadline draws near, especially if KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore believes his team needs help to get into the 2016 playoffs. Any deal that involved Mondesi would have to bring a substantial, and likely long-term, return rather than a mere rental like Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist were last season.
Mondesi, however, might allow the Kansas City Royals to consider landing high-end trade targets like Atlanta pitcher Julio Teheran or San Diego starter Drew Pomeranz. While I would be surprised to see the KC Royals give up Raul Mondesi, Moore’s track record indicates he is willing to make deadline deals to help what he believes is a championship caliber team.