My recent check-in with Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Sean Manaea inspired me to take a closer look at KC’s Advanced-A affiliate. Much like when I checked in with the Omaha Storm Chasers, my research was mostly disappointing. The Wilmington Blue Rocks aren’t without their glimmers of greatness from individual players, but as a team, they’re stumbling. The Blue Rocks are four victories away from a winning record, and their offense is mostly at fault.
Wilmington is by far the worst hitting team in the Carolina League, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who Manaea just held to one run through five frames, is by far the league’s best. The Blue Rocks are dead last in batting average, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, while the Pelicans rank first in all but two of those stats. The clear outlier to all this offensive ineptitude is the incredibly promising Raul Mondesi.
The Mondesi, formerly known as Adalberto, is hitting .304 with a .382 on-base percentage after 79 at-bats this year. He also ranks second among all Blue Rocks in steals and has yet to be caught in his five attempts. Mondesi is also tied for the league lead in errors with four (after just 23 games), so don’t go yelling at KC to call him up until he improves at shortstop. Since the guy was born in 1995, he’s got plenty of time to develop into something special.
Alcides Escobar is under contract as a Royal through the 2017 season, but KC has no clear answer for its lack of a true utility infielder. This role can be pivotal for competitive teams – which the Royals hope to be for at least the better part of the next decade – so I’d love to see Mondesi learning virtually all the infield positions in KC’s farm system. That way, he can fill whatever hole the team needs filled whenever he’s ready to explode onto the big-league scene.
I don’t know how good of a defender Mondesi can be in his prime, but neither does anyone else. I do know he isn’t getting much help in his current lineup, so I’m excited to see him make the jump to AA in the near future. Hopefully some time this season.