The Royals are not expected to compete for a title this year, but if there was a reason to tune in this year, it is to watch Adalberto Mondesi. The 23-year old shortstop is one of the most dynamic young players in baseball, offering a unique speed/power combination with amazing defense that promises to provide highlight reel plays on a nightly basis.
We got a glimpse of what Mondesi is capable of last year, when he appeared in 75 games and hit .276/.306/.498 with 14 home runs, 32 steals (eighth-most in baseball), and was worth 2.8 WAR, according to Fangraphs. If you simply pro-rate those numbers over a full-season, Mondesi would join elite company in the 25+ home run, 50+ stolen base club.
.@FlannyMLB gave his Adalberto Mondesi projections for '19: 27 HRs & 58 stolen bases #Royals— 610 Sports Radio (@610SportsKC) March 5, 2019
Since 1990, the only players who have posted a season of 25+ HRs & 50+ stolen bases are Hanley Ramirez ('07), Barry Bonds ('90) & Rickey Henderson ('90)
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ZIPS projects Mondesi to play in just 118 games, with a line of .261/.295/.462 with 18 home runs and 39 stolen bases. If you pro-rate his numbers to 150 games, it projects 23 home runs and 50 stolen bases.
But therein lies one of the issues with Mondesi - his durability. Mondesi has never played more than 125 games in a season, and has played right around 100 games in each of the last three seasons. Some of that was because of a PED suspension back in 2016, but Mondesi has been hit with injuries throughout his career, including last year when he missed the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury.
There are also concerns about his plate discipline, something that has been a red flag throughout his career. The ball jumps off Mondesi’s bat when he makes contact, but making contact was a bit of an issue last year. Mondesi has the sixth-highest swinging strike rate among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances last year, and his walk rate was the ninth-lowest among such hitters. It is possible he can improve, and he did show signs of improving as the season progressed. A low on-base percentage will limit his value a bit, but his speed and power may be so overwhelming it may not matter much.
Mondesi is just 23-years old and right now, it seems like the sky is the limit. But what are the reasonable expectations for him this year? What numbers are you expecting from Adalberto Mondesi in 2019?