Dayton Moore believes in his guys. It’s one of the most impressive things about his tenure with the Kansas City Royals. When everyone else wants to doubt his guys, he believes in them, and it paid huge dividends in 2014 and 2015.
His commitment to his guys is set to pay off big in 2016, with a few key prospects who have a chance to help the big league club in 2016. Among these prospects is the first ever player to make his Major League Debut in the World Series, Raul Mondesi.
Mondesi has been one of Moore’s guys since the day he signed Mondesi on his 16th birthday for $2 million dollars in 2011. Mondesi has been aggressively pushed through the Royals farm system and Moore believes in Mondesi despite his subpar minor league numbers.
Owner of a .246/.293/.658 slash line throughout his minor league career, Mondesi may look on paper like someone who may need to spend 2016 predominately in the minor leagues, and this may be true to a certain extent.
Mondesi probably needs to start the season in the minor leagues. Barring a huge spring training, Mondesi will most likely start the season at AA NWA. Even with a huge ST, the best Mondesi could probably do is earn himself a spot at AAA Omaha instead of NWA come opening day.
This isn’t about who the Royals opening day 2nd baseman will be though. This is about who will be starting at 2nd base for the Royals come October 2016.
There are already early indications that Mondesi might be given a chance with the big league club at some point in 2016.
In an interview with 610 sports insider Josh Vernier in late January, Moore had high praise for the young Mondesi. From Moore “I’m not saying Mondesi can be our Lindor, or our Correa in some aspect in 2016, but he’s certainly talented enough.”
Later on in the same interview, “He (Mondesi) will shine in the major leagues. He will play better in the major leagues than he did in the minor leagues.”
I think the idea around the Royals staff is that Mondesi’s production will only catch up to his talent once he reaches the Major Leagues. This praise from Moore, along with Moore’s track record mean there is a chance that Mondesi will help the Royals in 2016.
Much like Moore did with Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez, he will push Mondesi through the upper levels of the minor leagues if he believes that he can help the big league club win in 2016. By throwing around Correa and Lindor comps, I think it’s apparent that Moore believes Mondesi can help the team at the Major League level in 2016.
The obvious avenue for Mondesi to start in the Major Leagues is at 2nd base. He has the profile of an everyday SS, potentially even a gold glover, but, it’s hard to see him supplanting Alcides Escobar as the team’s everyday SS.
There is already a question as to who the opening day second baseman will be, with Omar Infante and Christian Colon set to duke it out for the positon during spring training.
Infante will most likely be given the nod on opening day, manager Ned Yost loves his defense, and with the money Infante is being paid over the next two seasons it makes sense for Infante to get one more chance to prove that he can be the team’s everyday second baseman.
If Infante struggles through the first portion of the season, postseason hero Christian Colon will most likely get a chance at 2nd base before Mondesi would.
However the organization seems to look at Colon as more of a utility infielder based on the way they have handled him over the past several years. So Colon may not get a very large sample size to prove that he can be the starting second baseman, especially not with Mondesi lurking in the minor leagues.
So let’s say Infante is the everyday 2nd baseman until June, when he is then replaced due to underperformance by Colon. It stands to reason that if Colon doesn’t produce, Mondesi will be given a chance at the job.
Despite being a natural SS, Mondesi has received playing time at 2B over the course of his career. This even includes playing 2B briefly in the 2015 Futures Game. He is the most talented of the trio of potential options at 2B, and he has by far the highest ceiling.
The Royals have been rewarded for believing in their guys the past 2 seasons. 2016 will be no different, only this time they will be rewarded for their belief in a young guy like Mondesi.
Mondesi will not only take over 2B for the Royals by September 1, 2016, he will do so with grace and production. He might not hit .300, but he could bat .250 with gold glove caliber defense and game changing speed on the base paths.
After making his Major League debut in the 2015 World Series, Mondesi may find himself at the starting 2nd baseman in game 1 of the 2016 World Series.