Kansas City Royals need Raul Mondesi to step up in 2018

Raul Mondesi #27 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Raul Mondesi #27 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals probably aren’t going to re-sign Alcides Escobar and that means it’s now or never for Raul Mondesi Jr.

Raul Mondesi has been a top prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization for many years now. Unfortunately, the kid hasn’t lived up to the hype so far, and that has to change in 2018.

In 2016 and 2017, it was a bit excusable because Mondesi wasn’t playing his preferred position and the “not ready” excuse was more acceptable. With Alcides Escobar likely not coming back next season, Mondesi should win the starting shortstop job and he has to deliver at the plate now as well as in the field.

In 2016, Mondesi was brought up and mainly impressed with his defense and on the base paths. The kid is super fast and was used in many pinch running situations as a rookie.

His 2017 season was a big letdown though. After winning the starting second base job (shockingly over the likes of Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon), Mondesi flamed out fast. He was quickly sent back down to AAA and never regained his starting job at second.

Mondesi’s 2017 slash line was a disappointing .170/.214/.245 in just 53 at bats. A year prior, he hit .185/.231/.281 in 135 at bats. While he had more time to work on his average in 2016, the fact that his numbers went down isn’t promising.

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With 2018 being a rebuilding year, Raul Mondesi has to step it up. Sure, the Royals aren’t going to be playing for much other than pride, but fans have waited to see Mondesi look like the prospect we were promised and so far, it’s been a disappointment all over the board.

Mondesi should be able to win the starting shortstop job (unless the Royals end up keeping Escobar or Nicky Lopez dazzles in spring training) and then he has to prove he can keep it. Escobar’s poor offense at times was excused with the fact that he could play near perfect defense.

No one expects Mondesi to be as good defensively as Esky was, but the kid has to learn to hit and not strike out so much. In his 53 at bats a season ago, Mondesi struck out 22 times. The year before, he had 135 at bats and struck out 48 times. Those strikeout numbers will have to go down significantly if Mondesi wants to make an impact with the Royals.

The Royals will be patient with Mondesi, as he’s just 22 years old, but it’d be nice to see SOMETHING out of him this year. The team won’t be the most talented and probably won’t win a lot of games, but if Mondesi can step it up and show why he was labeled as one of the top prospects, then 2018 will be more of a success as far as the rebuild goes.

Alcides Escobar is a tough shortstop to replace, but Raul Mondesi has to show that he’s capable of doing so in 2018 and beyond.