Before Sunday afternoon’s match up with the San Antonio Missions, I was able to sit down with Raul Adalberto Mondesi, a top prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization. Mondesi plays shortstop for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Royals Double-A affiliate. The 19-year-old is the son of former Major League outfielder and all-star Raul Mondesi.
After talking to him for a couple of minutes, Mondesi appears to have a good head on his shoulders. He is cognizant of his current skill level and is willing to do what it takes to improve as a ball player. When asked about possibly changing positions on his way to the big leagues, he was receptive to the idea. “It’s always good to play different positions. It gives you a better appreciation of the game and where to be situated. Plus you never know where an opportunity is going to present itself.”
On that note, Mondesi actually played second base for the Naturals on Sunday, his first start at second this year. Kenny Diekroeger took over at short. With his plus range and soft hands, Mondesi could play any position in the infield. His versatility could be a great asset to the Royals.
The 6’1″ switch-hitter has above-average speed even though his four stolen bases in 19 games is not the greatest indicator. On stealing more bases Mondesi commented, “I love to run, but batting second in the order changes my approach. You don’t want to make an out when you have the best batters on the team coming up. I know I can score from any base, so I can’t be making an out.”
Pitch selection has been an issue with the young Mondesi. He’s currently batting .250 with an on-base percentage of just .260. However, when he makes solid contact he puts a charge into the ball, as evidenced by his three home runs this season. Last year with High-A Wilmington he led the Carolina League with 12 triples. Mondesi, who is turning 20 next month, will continue to grow into his frame and is expected to be a 15-HR player down the line.
Mondesi has been on the fast track ever since singing a $2 million contract with the Royals when he was just 16 years old. He understands he needs to improve his offense in order to get promoted and he continues to make progress. MLB.com ranks Mondesi as the sixth-best shortstop prospect in baseball, #35 overall.
Mondesi faced some Major League pitching on Sunday as San Diego Padres starter Brandon Morrow started the game as part of his rehab assignment. It was a rough outing for Morrow, but he struck out Mondesi twice. The Northwest Arkansas Naturals will travel home for a three-game series with the Tulsa Drillers.