With half of the team en route to San Antonio for split-squad games, the Royals’ game Thursday against the Dodgers was a good chance for some young guys to play.
The starting lineup for the Royals’ 5-1 win included a number of players from the minor-league camp: Jorge Bonifacio, Bubba Starling, Angel Franco and Humberto Arteaga.
Raul Mondesi got the start at shortstop. He’s on the Royals’ 40-man roster, but he is likely headed to the minor leagues when the season starts.
Mondesi, 20, provided a preview of what Royals fans can expect. Mondesi opened the game with a roller to third base that turned into an infield single because of his speed.
In the bottom of the second inning, Mondesi made a diving stop and easily threw out Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. Infields in Arizona are sun-baked and rock-hard, so balls up the middle, like Ellis’, are frequently hits.
That made Mondesi’s play all the more impressive.
Mondesi had a couple more smooth defensive plays that made it seem he was major-league ready.
“He was pretty special,” said Royals coach Don Wakamatsu, who was filling in for Ned Yost. “You watch his game, you watch how comfortable he is. The first at-bat he beat out the single, shows his legs. Then he hits a high fastball and hits a line drive out to center. He had the backhand play at short and the one up the middle.
“He looked great.”
So did starting pitcher Kris Medlen. He allowed one run on three hits in four innings with no walks and four strikeouts. He thew 55 pitches and 41 were for strikes.
It was a nice bounce-back performance for Medlen, who allowed three runs on six hits in three innings last Saturday against Arizona.
“For the most part, I got a pretty good rhythm and just tried to pound the zone,” Medlen said. “Yeah, it worked out.”
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales’ obliterated a J.P. Howell fastball in the fifth inning for a two-run home run. Morales also had a single in the first inning. Left fielder Alex Gordon walked and had an RBI single that started a four-run fifth inning.
Kelvin Herrera was efficient in the fifth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Ross Ohlendorf tossed two scoreless innings.
Catcher Drew Butera had a double in the second inning and scored on a single by Franco. Tony Cruz, who is in the mix with Butera to be the backup to Salvador Perez, pinch hit in the eighth inning and struck out.
The Royals will play a pair of split-squad games Friday. The Royals take on the Angels in Surprise, Ariz., at 3:05 p.m. Miguel Almonte is the scheduled starter. The other squad plays the Rangers in San Antonio at 7:05 p.m. with Dillon Gee making the start.