Even With Alcides Escobar Back, Could Raul Mondesi Emerge As A 2018 Sleeper?

by Ray Kuhn

ADP data from the NFBC is not gospel. There is no substitute for doing your own rankings, but where players are being drafted in the NFBC is often a good indication of their market. One player whose market is currently all over the place in early drafts is Raul Mondesi, which shouldn’t be all that surprising (and also is set to become more polarizing with the re-signing of Alcides Escobar).

Speed. Talent. Potential. Youth. Upside.

While Mondesi has yet to prove anything at the major league level, he has 209 plate appearances under his belt, those are some of the words most commonly used when talking about him. It could potentially all be hyperbole and unwarranted hype, or the shortstop could turn his tools into production. Whatever ultimately happens, don’t expect a full conclusion to be written in 2018. After all, Mondesi is still just 22 years old.

With the Royals in a rebuilding state this season, Mondesi has the potential and opportunity for 500 plate appearances this season (the Royals could shift him to 2B and Whit Merrifield to the OF). This is not to say that he is a finished product, but Mondesi has proven he can be successful and get results in the minor leagues.

Currently, Mondesi’s ADP of 329 is a good depiction of where he should be, but he has been selected anywhere from the 242nd pick to the 437th pick. Personally I have a hard time relying on Mondesi to enter the season as a starter in my lineup, but there is no reason to expect he won’t end up there. Of course though the upside is better than the majority of the other options with which he shares an ADP.

Any conversation regarding Mondesi has to start with his speed. Of all the hitting categories, it is the most scarce and therefore the most in demand. If you can draft a player who has a shot at playing time and 30 stolen bases in the 20th round it is an opportunity that you can’t exactly pass up. His speed is elite and he has had consistent success. In his short major league career he has 14 stolen bases, and last season in 85 games at Triple-A he stole 21 bases.

In order to steal second base you have to get to first base, and that is what will determine Mondesi’s value and success.

Despite hitting .305 in Triple-A last season and having success through his minor league career, his career average with the Royals is just .181. The sample size is very small and the tools are there, but there is also cause for concern. In Triple-A last season, Mondesi’s average was helped along by a .373 BABIP, and he does not walk. Even in the minor leagues last season he walked 5% of the time while striking out in 24% of his at bats. As you could imagine it was worse in the Majors. 4.3% walk rate (league average of 8.5%) and 33.5% strikeout rate (league average of 21.6%).

Mondesi needs to also improve his contact rate while taming his aggressiveness. He even brings some power to the table, 13 home runs in 85 Triple-A games, but he needs to harness his swing. The hope is that this comes with another year of experience.

There is enough talent and potential there to warrant taking a shot at the young shortstop, and at the very least the stolen bases will be an asset.  As of today, though, don’t make Mondesi a big part of your plans either.

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
--
Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

One comment

  1. Bbboston says:

    You’ve nailed this assessment. So much talent, but an unruly batting approach with no evidence that he can tame the urge to swing at things outside the strike zone. Do you know, is he having trouble with breaking balls? If so, he’s going to be “tooled” again in the big leagues. If you ask me, KC has a terrible history with batting coaches instructing hitters. Eric Hosmer could have been so much more with a more compact swing, but I’ve never seen any evidence of minor retooling on that, except when he worked briefly with George Brett.

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