The Royals made news again on the Latin American front late last night when they signed 16 year old Dominican shortstop Adalberto Mondesi to a $2 million deal. (Happy Birthday Adalberto!) Of course those of us that follow the Royals closely knew that when July 27 rolled around this deal would finally be announced, but it is nonetheless and exciting move.
Mondesi is praised for his sharp glove and good speed. Reports are that his 60 yard dash comes in between 6.6 to 6.8 seconds. Also, while it isn't fair to judge Mondesi based off of his father's talents, we could expect him to possess a cannon for an arm. Even if this doesn't turn out to be the case having Major League bloodlines is a huge bonus for a prospect of any type. Especially a young Latin American.
Also in Mondesi's favor is that he was born in Los Angeles. He has spent some time in the USA, and given how much time his father spent in the country he should be able to adapt to US culture rather quickly. This is the third big time Latin American shortstop the Royals have signed in the past two seasons. They are obviously working hard to build the depth at the lower levels.
Mondesi is a switch hitter. He stands 5-11 and weighs 160 pounds. He ranked as the 12th best Latin American prospect in this year's class according to Baseball America. The Royals also added the top prospect on the list Elier Hernandez and two other quality prospects from Venezuela in catcher Luis Lara and shortstop Angelo Castellano.
Mondesi is just the latest work done by the Royals International Scouting Department. Of course we all know that when Dayton Moore took over he promised to build the Royals into a Major player in the Latin American market, a market that is about relationships as much as dollars in many situations.
It took awhile for the Royals to build the relationships necessary in order to acquire the top talents, but even the Royals earliest work is already starting to pay divedends at the upper level. Kelvin Herrera and Salvador Perez both were signed in Dayton Moore's first summer on the job and it is fitting that on the same day they would both be promoted to the highest level of Minor League Baseball.
Herrera has always had an electric arm, but injuries have really derailed his career. That is until this season when the Royals moved him to the pen to protect him. For the year he has a 1.42 era with 52 strikeouts to just 8 walks. He got knocked around in the Futures Game a bit, but he is going to be a dominant reliever unless the Royals get ballsy and attempt to move him back to starter.
Perez broke out last year when he was the youngest player in the Carolina League and held his own by hitting .290. But he really took off in Spring Training when Manager Ned Yost declared him Major League ready with the glove. Several months later the glove is still top notch and as a twenty-one year old is hitting .283/.329/.427 in Double-A. This is a solid line but consider this in the second half he's hitting .333/.374/.571.
It appears that the Royals have worked extremely hard to improve the International Operations of the organization. But it is important to remember that the signings are only the beginning. Dayton Moore talks about the development of Latin American players as being a seven year process. Of course some develop faster, but it takes time.
Despite focusing much of their drafting energy on supplementing the first wave the last couple of seasons, the Royals were also working hard on the second wave. For this reason there was already a solid base for the Royals when they shifted their draft focus back to high upside high school guys in this year's draft. This is something that was nonexistent when the Royals built the first wave and for this reason the second wave could be just as impressive or more than the first.