ORLANDO -- Almost five years after being signed in the Dominican Republic for $2 million, shortstop Raúl Mondesí Jr. is battling to survive against Double-A Texas League pitching. The good news: The Kansas City Royals prospect doesn't turn 20 for three weeks.
“Raulito is exactly where he needs to be at this stage of his career, although the statistics don't show that. At Kansas City we're in no doubt that he will put up the numbers. The boy has a supreme talent,” said Felix Francisco, the Royals' scout with special assignments in Latin America and the United States.
In his fourth season in the pros, Mondesí Jr. hit .264 with 10 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 129 at bats with Arkansas. A sore back sidelined him for two weeks in late June, but that didn't prevent him from receiving his first call-up for the All-Star Futures Game which will take place this Sunday in Cincinnati, the venue for this year's MLB All-Star Game.
Mondesí Jr. is one of 13 Dominicans who dominate the 25-man "World" roster for the clash against the United States at the Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. Since 1999, the 25 top prospects from the 30 MLB organizations have taken part in the contest.
Mondesí Jr., who signed for Kansas City in July 2011 at 16 years old, hit .249 with 83 extra-base hits and 59 steals in his first 321 games in the Kansas City farm system. He is the son of former all-star outfielder Raúl Mondesí, the 1994 National League Rookie of the Year as a Los Angeles Dodger and current mayor of San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic.
The switch-hitting batter was ranked No. 38 on ESPN's list of the top 100 prospects, released before the summer. Baseball America's updated midseason list places him at #25.
“Let's put it this way: Mondesí is a player who has a glove that is ready for the Major Leagues and an arm and a leg speed that are above average in baseball,” Francisco said.
“The kid just needs time to keep polishing his batting. And the one thing a kid who hasn't even turned 20 yet has most of, is time”, added the scout.
Being involved in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game represents a step forward in the career of Mondesí Jr., who is at the exact point that the Royals thought he would be in 2015 when they signed him four years ago.