The KC Royals called up top prospect Raul Mondesi Jr., and optioned rookie Whit Merrifield to AAA Omaha on Tuesday afternoon.
Raul Mondesi Jr. has been tearing up AAA Omaha after getting promoted from AA NW Arkansas July 8. Raul Mondesi was hitting .304/.328/.536 with 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 1 home run in 56 at bats for the Stormchasers. Mondesi will join the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night, just one day before his 21st birthday.
The promotion is something of a vindication for Mondesi after MLB hit him with a 50-day PEDs violation earlier this season. Mondesi successfully reduced his suspension from the typical 80-day penalty for first time offenders by proving that the substance identified in his system was included in an over-the-counter cold medicine he purchased in his native Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Whit Merrifield has been mired in a 5-45 slump after a strong debut in which he hit .339/.350/.483 in his first month in the league. Merrifield’s start allowed him to seize the starting second base job and the leadoff spot in the KC Royals lineup. However, Merrifield has crashed to a mere .170/.241/.245 with 17 strikeouts in 53 at bats in July.
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I don’t think this demotion spells doom for Merrifield’s future with the Kansas City Royals. He still can play seven position with plus defense, but he does need to work on some things with his hit tool before he can stick as a regular with the big club.
Mondesi’s natural position is shortstop, but he will likely play second base for the KC Royals with 2015 Gold Glove winning shortstop Alcides Escobar still on the roster. However, Mondesi will probably log time at both positions as the KC Royals see what they have as Mondesi gets his feet wet at the major league level.
With the Kansas City Royals falling out of the race in 2016, preparing Mondesi for 2017 could be on the agenda for general manager Dayton Moore. With Merrifield caught in a horrendous slump, there’s really no downside to promoting Mondesi.
Most scouts view Mondesi’s defense and base-running as plus tools at the major league level. His stumbling block has always been his hit tool, which has progressed rapidly in what has become a breakout year for him at the plate. Mondesi is showing more extra base pop this season than anytime since he signed with the KC Royals as a 16-year-old international prospect in 2011.
Raul Mondesi Jr., who is the son of former major league outfielder Raul Mondesi, was rated as the no. 16 overall prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the 2016 season began, but he fell off of Keith Law’s mid-season top 50 list due to his PEDs suspension.