Kansas City Royals shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi is having a good spring training: 10-for-31 (.323) with a double, a triple, and a stolen base. He also has just one walk against eight strikeouts, all of which fits well into the established narrative.
Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
Bats: S Throws: R HT: 6-1 WT: 165 DOB: July 27, 1995
This profile hasn’t changed much. Raul Mondesi, once again, was extremely young for his league, just age 19/20 in Double-A. Raul Mondesi, once again, was an erratic and overall-mediocre hitter, unable to control the strike zone effectively and striking out too much for a guy with little Isolated Power. Raul Mondesi, once again, used his speed well on the bases (when he managed to get on base). Raul Mondesi, once again, shows the physical tools necessary to be an excellent major league shortstop defensively, though the polish isn’t quite there yet. Raul Mondesi, once again, impresses all scouts and observers with his physical tools, but generates mixed opinions about his future projection. If you think the hitting skills will come, he’s a future star. If you think the hitting skills will stay substandard, he’s a mediocre regular at best or just a reserve. Personally I’ve gone back and forth on him. I was pretty optimistic around mid-season after being impressed with his defensive work and buying into the offensive projection, but then his bat fell apart again late in the year (1-for-22 with 14 strikeouts in September) and I had a slump-concurrent negative report from a trusted source to add to the mix. Moving him up to a Grade B+ seems acceptable but the bat is a real issue.
As noted, there's no question about Mondesi's athleticism. He looks like a player is supposed to look. Many respected analysts consider him one of the very best prospects in baseball, focusing on the tools and his very young age relative to the competition.
His numbers have always been bad; he's been a persistently below average hitter with poor strike zone judgment and little game power. Of course, he's also been extremely young for his leagues, the Royals pushing him in a Darwinian sink-or-swim development approach. It hasn't worked to this point but he's still only 20. However, if you study baseball history, you'll find that while age-relative-to-league is an important factor, it is not the only one. The assumption that Mondesi will figure things out because he is so young is just that, an assumption, one which has some historical support but which also has historical counterpoints.
All that said, Mondesi is a fine prospect, no doubt, one of the best middle infield prospects in baseball. I don't argue with that. I do believe he's a little overhyped in some quarters, and every time I hear a TV announcer talk about him as a future star, I cringe a little and think "Yes, that could very well happen, BUT. . ."
Where do you stand on Mondesi?