Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #3 Raul Mondesi Jr.

3. Raul Mondesi Jr. Short Stop

Age: 18
Position: SS
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 165
B/T: S/R
Acquired: Signed as non-drafted FA in 2011
From: Los Angeles, CA

2013 Rank: 6

2012 Rank: 42

Landon Adams (1): Not surprisingly, I have bestowed Mondesi with the highest ranking out of the Royal Revival contributors. While Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura will rank higher on this list, just like nearly all others, I'd confidently argue that this 18 year old Dominican is the top prospect in the organization.

Let's start with the bloodlines. As most of us know, Adalberto is the son of former Major League outfielder Raul Mondesi Sr., who now serves as the Mayor of San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic. If the bloodlines weren't enough to give Mondesi a slight edge in the rating, the prospect was also born stateside. This fact is often overlooked, but as a result he is fluent in English, which is a major reason for why the Royals have been able to push him into full season ball at such a young age. 

Like his father, the 1994 National League Rookie of the Year, Mondesi is blessed with an outstanding arm. Not only does his arm enable him to make plays deep in the hole, but it is also accurate enough to allow him to throw on the move and from strange arm slots and angles when necessary. Yes, Mondesi had 30 errors in 2013, but his defense is terrific and he is getting to much more balls than his Minor League counterparts. Another point that should be made is that infields get better the higher the ladder you climb. 

Offensively, Mondesi also features his father's bat speed. In 2012, I distinctly remember Mondesi turning on a fastball that no 16 year old should be able to turn on. Later in the same game he did an excellent job of taking an offspeed pitch to the opposite field with two strikes.Since my time watching the Pioneer League, few images have stuck in my mind like those of Mondesi's. It was quite apparent at the time that the kid was special and the buzz around the league dictated the same. 

Mondesi will likely open the season as the youngest prospect in High-A. There are plenty of reasons to believe that his batting line will continue to look pedestrian as he faces competition often times four or five years his senior. However, at some point Mondesi is going to catch up with his competition and when he does look out. 

Paden Bennett (6): Raul Mondesi Jr. is an incredibly exciting prospect, one that I am extremely pumped to see move through the system and become an above average overall shortstop that we haven't seen in Kansas City in a long long time.  Mondesi was just 17 years old last year when he hit .261/.311/.361 with 7 hrs and 47 rbis.  Not excited about those numbers?  Let me ask you this, what were you doing at 17 years old?  I know I wasn't playing professional baseball and was the youngest player in the Sally League and holding my own.  

While Mondesi's numbers don't jump off the page, for a 17 year old these are extremely encouraging numbers.  Rumor is that Mondesi and Dozier will both start in Wilmington.  If Mondesi starts in Wilmington, I look for him to struggle initially then show signs of improvement late.  Even if he struggles all year I won't be discouraged, he will still only be turning 18 this coming July.  I'm ecstatic to see Mondesi move through the system, rarely do you see a combination of superb fielding, speed, contact and a little bit of pop.

Joe Cox (2):  Raul Mondesi has become one of the most exciting prospects in all of the minor leagues.  Mondesi played well enough in the Pioneer League in 2012 where the Royals brass decided they wanted to see how he would handle a full season league.  Mondesi Jr. spent his entire 2013 in the Sally League as a 17 year old, making him the youngest player in league.  His performance was very encouraging when considering his age.  

At the plate, he put up a .312 wOBA with seven home runs and 24 stolen bases.  Mondesi was able to cut down his strikeouts from the year prior and maintained his power speed combo.  Defensively, many scouts feel he should be able to play as a plus defensive shortstop at the major league level.  In 2014, I’d like to see continue progression with the bat.  Even if he stays in A ball, he will be one of the youngest players in the league he is in, so I’m not expecting lights out numbers wherever he goes.  Mondesi has potential to be a top prospect in the league in a few years as long as he can continue to improve on his already impressive all around game.

Dan Ware (6):  Mondesi fared well for being the youngest player in the South Atlantic League at just 17 years old.  Although he hit .261/.311/.361 with 7 HR and 47 RBI, which is still promising to see from a teenager in professional baseball, he held his own against Low-A pitching.  Being a switch hitter, Raul put up better numbers from the left side (.261/.314/.372, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 90/29 K to BB), although he had a few more plate appearances as a lefty (311 to be exact). 

As Nathaniel Stoltz of FanGraphs points out in his post on Mondesi, the now 18 year old has separate batting stances from both sides of the plate.  From the left, he opens up a little more, showing quick bat speed and decent power that Stoltz predicts in the 10+ HR range.  On the right side, he's in a closed stance and doesn't have as good of mechanics when batting left-handed.

In regards to his glove, Baseball America has him as the 'Best Defensive Infielder' in the organization.  With his above-average speed, smooth motions, and solid arm, he easily has the makeup to be a solid SS in the Majors.  Last year, he committed 30 errors in 105 games at SS, which does seem exorbitant, but given his age and inexperience, the fielding will improve with maturity.

2014 will be a challenging year for Mondesi.  It's probable that he'll be playing SS for Wilmington in the Carolina League, which as you know, is notorious for being a pitcher's league.  While he'll see better pitching this go-around, I don't see him going on a tear, but if he puts up the numbers like he did in Lexington, that will be a positive sign.

Nicholas Ian Allen (--): I'm still calling him Adalberto. The young man with the familiar name - so familiar he shares it with his father and at least one brother - continues to impress despite an extremely young age. When I was 17 I had a tough time hitting in the Georgia High School Association, and Raul A. Mondesi put together a full season in the South Atlantic League, with seven homers and seven triples.

While his numbers on paper are not mind-blowing, the fact that Mondesi has been able to keep his head above water in US professional baseball leagues for two seasons at his age, is. I'm not even going to discuss his stats, because really, they don't even matter.

Think about it: the players he is competing against everyday are an average of three to five years older. Most have played three seasons of college ball and have worked for two more years as a professional to reach the same level. Not many of them have a father that was a big league all-star, but still. If Mondesi grew up in his California birth place instead of the Dominican Republic, and had not signed as an international free agent two years ago, he would be playing high school baseball!

I am very impressed by Mondesi, and I am certainly not alone. He is already a multi-millionaire and is a fixture in Top 100 prospect lists everywhere. As a switch-hitter with speed, a solid glove, and more than a little power in a thin but still growing frame, the sky is the limit. This time next year, Mondesi will be the mix with Miguel Sano and Carlos Correra to be the best overall prospect in baseball, and he may make the big leagues before he turns 20.

All that said, there is still a long way to go for Mondesi to become a star in the Major Leagues. His talent is unlimited, be he is still just a kid.

Total Points: 109

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