Royals MiLB: Raul Mondesi Thriving At AAA
By John Viril
Royals top prospect Raul Mondesi is thriving after his promotion to AAA Omaha. Mondesi looks ready for a September trial and could challenge for a starting middle infield job in 2017.
Raul Mondesi is slashing a quite respectable .277/.306/.511 through 52 plate appearances at AAA Omaha after the KC Royals promoted him early in July. While he’s still too much of a hacker at the plate, he’s showing more pop this season than any prior year of his career on the verge of turning 21 (Mondesi’s birthday is July 27).
Whit Merrifield is on notice now. He’s going to have to fight to keep that starting job at second base with Mondesi looming at AAA. With Merrifield caught in a slump, Raul Mondesi could take over at second base as early as next season, pushing Merrifield into a utility role—and perhaps moving Christian Colon off the team.
By all accounts, Mondesi’s glove and base-running abilities are already major-league ready. Mondesi has swiped 21 bags across three levels in 2016, against 2 caught stealing.
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And now, the bat is coming around. Overall, Raul Mondesi is hitting .260/.317/.460 in 222 plate appearances with 9 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 home runs. That slugging percentage is almost 88 points better than his previous season high of .372 set last season at NW Arkansas.
With Alcides Escobar set to become a free agent 2017, and suffering through a bad season in which he’s putting up below replacement value according to baseball-reference (-1.0 bWAR), Mondesi could even take over at shortstop in Kansas City.
The Royals front office would be wise to think about it, even though dealing Alcides Escobar in the final year of his contract would be selling low. I think the KC Royals are better off deploying two rangy middle infielders in Escobar and Mondesi (presuming his bat is ready), with Merrifield on the bench. After Escobar hit’s free agency, Mondesi would then be the favorite to take over at short.
Or, Mondesi could become trade bait before the August 1 deadline. However, for the front office to include Mondesi in any trade package will require a front-line player that is more than a rental. Given the high prices of starting pitching at the current time, I just don’t see the value in trading Mondesi.
Personally, I’d like to see the Kansas City Royals field a middle infielder with some pop for once. Ben Zobrist was certainly an asset down the stretch last season, but he was an exception that made KC Royals fans realize just what they have been missing.
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Unless Mondesi can help bring back a front line starter with multiple years of team control, the Royals should develop him as Escobar’s replacement at shortstop.