17-year-old Mondesi off to impressive start for Legends

tlashbrook@herald-leader.comMay 31, 2013 

Seventeen years old.

Maybe that's what makes the Lexington Legends' shortstop, Raul Adalberto Mondesi, so impressive.

Or maybe it's his ability to swing a baseball bat fluidly from either side of the plate as a switch-hitter.

"The kid's a tireless worker," Justin Gemoll, the Legends' hitting coach said. "He works hard every single day; he's in the cage getting his extra work, asking questions. He goes about his business the right way."

"Those characteristics translate over to his game."

Gemoll has been with Mondesi since the prospect signed with the Kansas City Royals' organization for a reported $2 million on his 16th birthday in 2011.

Maybe it's most impressive that the 17-year-old prospect recently hit for the cycle.

On May 27 against the Kannapolis Intimidators, Mondesi hit a triple and knocked a ball out of the park in his first two at-bats, the toughest legs of the cycle. He beat out an infield single and hit a double down the left-field line to complete one of baseball's most difficult feats.

That type of performance is one that will bring a player a lot of attention.

But attention isn't anything new when you're the son of a former Major League Baseball All-Star.

Mondesi's father, who shares the same name, was Rookie of the Year in 1994 and played for 13 seasons in the majors, mostly with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The senior Mondesi also started young, signing with the Dodgers' organization as a 17-year-old in 1988.

Like father, like son.

Well, not exactly.

Mondesi doesn't play the same position as his two-time Gold Glove-winning father.

His father was a power-hitting right fielder with 271 home runs listed on his résumé.

The slender Legends infielder is a switch-hitting contact batter who works the bases with world class speed.

But being raised by an MLB All-Star has its perks.

"He talks to his dad a lot about baseball," Gemoll said. "And it's great. Baseball's in his blood. He loves the game. He works hard at it and that's a good combination to have."

Mondesi, who was born in Los Angeles, attracted the Royals' attention while playing at an academy in the Dominican Republic, where his father now lives and serves as mayor of San Cristobal. His older brother, Raul Ramon Mondesi Jr., plays in the Tampa Bay organization.

Mondesi, who spoke through Adrian Morales, his teammate and translator, said that what his father went through in the minor and major leagues has helped him prepare for life as a professional baseball player.

Morales, seven years Mondesi's elder, has also been able to help Mondesi along the way.

"You tell him one thing one at-bat and the next at-bat, he already did it," Morales said. "That's why he's hitting better as the season's gone on."

In the 10 games prior to Friday night, Mondesi batted 14-for-37 for a .378 average. The night before he batted for the cycle, the 6-foot-1, 165-pound Mondesi hit two home runs.

He's making a name for himself as one of the best batters on the Legends. And, remember, he's only 17.

"His ceiling is very, very high," Gemoll said. "Being the type of player he is and the position he plays, he fits the profile."

Mondesi, who will turn 18 on July 27, said that being so young is good but that it can be tough to relate to the older guys.

However, he said "baseball brings us together" and he's learned to connect with teammates who are mostly in their 20s.

One word resonated with both Gemoll and Morales when they spoke of Mondesi.

Mature.

Maybe that maturity is what's so impressive about the professional baseball prospect that's younger than many high school seniors.

At 17 years old, there really is no limit to Mondesi's potential.


Raul Mondesi's 2013 stats

(Through Thursday)

Games 49 RBI 28

Hits 46 Runs 18

At-bats 188 Steals 11

Average .245 Doubles 8

Home runs 4 Triples 4

Tyler Lashbrook: (859) 231-1447.

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