Sidelined by a sore back, Royals shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi is expected to return to the lineup for Class AAA Omaha early next week, club officials said.
Mondesi, who will turn 22 on Thursday, hasn’t played since July 9. The Royals have elected to exercise caution with his back issue, in part because Mondesi has battled back soreness previously during his time in the minor leagues.
Mondesi is in the midst of his best minor-league season, batting .316 with a .346 on-base percentage and 10 homers in 62 games. He has recorded 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts. His .892 OPS (on-base plus slugging) is nearly 200 points higher than his career average (.702) in six minor-league seasons.
The offensive breakout materialized after Mondesi scuffled in the major leagues in April after winning the Royals’ starting second baseman job in the spring. In 14 games in April, Mondesi batted just .103 (4 for 39) with 16 strikeouts. He was sent back to Omaha following a 1-0 loss in Texas on April 20.
Back in Omaha, Mondesi has played 51 of his 62 games at shortstop, his likely future position. He has also made nine starts at second.
Cuthbert continues rehab assignment
Royals infielder Cheslor Cuthbert finished 2 for 3 with a solo homer and a walk on Thursday in his fourth game of a rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha.
Cuthbert has been on the disabled list since June 28 after sustaining a sprained left wrist. He was 1 for 10 with a triple in the first three games of the rehab stint.
Cuthbert is hitting .196 with one homer in 95 plate appearances, filling a part-time role on the Royals’ bench. He remains out of options, meaning he cannot be removed from the 25-man roster without being placed on waivers and exposed to other teams. He can stay on the rehab assignment for 20 days before he must be reinstated to the 25-man roster.
Starling could return in August
Finally experiencing a career breakout, center fielder Bubba Starling hit a roadblock in mid July when he sustained a strained oblique at Omaha. Club officials hope the former first-round pick can return in three to four weeks.
Starling, a member of the Royals’ 40-man roster, is a possible September callup, offering speed and defense off the bench. Yet his availability in September could hinge on his recovery from the oblique injury.