Every Friday I will be taking a look at a prospect in the lower levels of the minors who is a strong candidate to move toward the top of prospect lists. This week's player emerged after a strong season in Idaho Falls last year as a 16 year old, and will start the season with the Royals Low-A affiliate in Lexington.
The Royals signed Adalberto Mondesi out of the Dominican Republic in July 2011 to one of the larger bonuses that year, $2 million. The son of former major leaguer Raul Mondesi, Adalberto was expected to spend the 2012 season in the Dominican Summer League. However, instead of doing that, the Royals sent him to their short-season affiliate in the Pioneer League as a 16 year old. Which is of course when things get even more interesting.
Mondesi appeared in 50 games for Idaho Falls, where he hit .290/.346/.386 with 3 home runs, 30 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts. He also walked 19 times (8.2% BB rate), and struck out 65 times (28% K rate). The performance itself was solid for a new signee in his first assignment, but it stands out even more when you are reminded that the Pioneer League tends to be where teams send their college draft picks for the year. The average age last year in the Pioneer League was 20.9, meaning that Mondesi was over 4 years younger than the average player in the league. We ranked Mondesi as our #13 shortstop prospect during the offseason, but it seems that we may have been light on the ranking.
Mondesi profiles as a potential five-category contributor, providing solid production across the categories. It doesn't sound like he is likely to provide elite-level production in any one category, but could be an excellent source of batting average long-term. Obviously, anytime you are dealing with a player who is this far away, there are a lot of possible outcomes still.
The key here is Mondesi’s defense at shortstop. He played the position exclusively last year, and the reports point to a player who will stay at the position long term:
Defensively, Mondesi has outstanding range, a strong arm and good hands. He needs consistency, which should come with time, and there are no questions about his ability to stick at shortstop. - Marc Hulet
For me, Mondesi is a prototypical high-risk, high-reward type of prospect. He has already shown the tools to potentially be a superstar, and even inspired a magical post over at Baseball Prospectus from resident prospect expert Jason Parks. He is that prospect that could be unbelievable if everything comes together.
Mondesi starts his season in Low-A as the starting shortstop, despite being just 17 years old. If he posts even a reasonably decent slash line there, the hype machine could explode even further into the stratosphere.
Our own Craig Goldstein was able to see Mondesi during Spring Training this year, and shared this video of Mondesi as well: