Royals manager Ned Yost announced today that Raúl Mondesí has been named the Opening Day second baseman, beating out competition that included Whit Merrifield, Christian Colón, and Cheslor Cuthbert. Yost had previously said he expected second base to be split between more than one player, but with Mondesí winning the job, he will likely be the everyday starter.
Mondesí had been a star of camp, hitting .378 with three home runs and exhibiting blazing speed at times. However, many of his hits came against lesser competition, and he did not improve on his high strikeout rate and low walk rate that has plagued him his entire career. Mondesí hit .185 in 47 games with the Royals last year. The 21-year old has been promoted very aggressively, and has failed to put up big numbers in the minors, but his high upside tools are obvious.
With the announcement of Mondesí as the starter, that leaves the remaining infielders in question. Christian Colón, and Cheslor Cuthbert are out of options, meaning they cannot be sent to the minors without risking them to waivers. Merrifield has an option remaining, and he could be the odd man out, barring a trade or injury.
The Royals also suggested that outfielder Jorge Soler could begin the year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, which could open up a roster spot for speedy pinch-runner Terrence Gore. The Royals are likely to carry 13 position players, which will include Salvador Pérez, Eric Hosmer, Raúl Mondesí, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Brandon Moss, Drew Butera, and Paulo Orlando. The remaining three spots will likely be between Soler, if he is healthy, Colón, Cuthbert, Merrifield, Gore, and outfielders Peter O’Brien and Billy Burns.