When the Kansas City Royals World Series roster came out Tuesday morning there was one name that was a real surprise, Raul Mondesi. While he could be the first player in baseball history to make his big league debut in the World Series, what kind of player is he now, what can he become, and what does this move mean for the Royals in this series?
Let’s start with what he can become. He is the Royals top ranked prospect and the 33rd overall according to MLB.com, but is not ranked as one of the top ten shortstops. He has a ton of speed and could be a true plus defender. The question is what his bat may become. The fact he is a switch hitter is certainly a plus, and he is comfortable from both sides. He is a slap hitter when the situation calls for it, but his stroke allows him to rip line drives into the gaps and he will probably be a .280 hitter in time. He has a frame that could add some strength and becoming a consistent 12-15 home run guy is not out of the question. He will certainly lose some of his speed as he adds power to his game, but settling in between 25-30 steals a year is an easy projection for him. If his bat does come along, he can be a regular on All-Star teams, but the aggressive promotion schedule leaves some question as to whether or not he will be given proper time and opportunity to let the offensive part of his game develop.
As for the now, the bat is somewhat of a liability. He hit just .243 in limited action at Double-A this season but did hit five triples in 81 games. He stole 19 bags but was caught six times. He has successfully stolen bases in 76% of his attempts in his minor league career, but his pure speed is better than that. When he is batting from the left side, he is fond of laying down bunts for base hits, and can be quite successful doing so. He has a strong arm at short and his fluidity around the bag is something to see. He didn’t quite get the world class arm his dad had, but he does have an arm that plays as plus for the shortstop position.
Double-A and last season’s Arizona Fall League are the highest levels of competition Mondesi has seen thus far, so the New York Mets pitching staff would likely be a complete mismatch for the 20 year old. If he does get a plate appearance in the World Series, I would anticipate it coming in New York as a pinch hitter for the pitcher’s spot if it comes up to lead off an inning in the sixth or seventh inning. He will likely be looking for a bunt single, but the chances of him actually stepping to the plate are probably slim. The most likely path to making an appearance in a game will come as a pinch runner, as he takes the place of Terrance Gore on the roster. Gore may be a bigger threat to steal a bag than Mondesi, but that doesn’t mean Mondesi won’t steal, look for Mondesi to be more of a threat to be aggressive on the bases and push the defense much like Lorenzo Cain has this postseason. Mondesi will also be an option as a defensive replacement as he is a very good shortstop and has seen time at second base this year in Double-A.