As the Royals find themselves in the thick of another playoff race, manager Ned Yost said this weekend that rookie Raul Mondesi will continue to draw the majority of starts at second base.
By late Sunday night, Yost’s comments looked prescient. Mondesi had a bases-clearing triple in the top of the sixth inning, keying an eight-run inning.
Mondesi, 21, entered Sunday’s series finale at Fenway Park batting just .184 with a .228 on-base percentage in 28 games since being called up in July. His 16 hits in 87 at-bats included four bunt singles. Yet on Saturday afternoon, Yost appeared unconcerned, citing Mondesi’s complete package.
Indeed, other aspects of Mondesi’s game have displayed elite potential. His defense at second base has shimmered. His speed has the potential to change games. For now, Yost said, the Royals can live with Mondesi’s still-developing offense.
“Absolutely,” Yost said. “But it’s not going to be .180. He’ll get some hits. He’ll do some things. We won 16 out of 19 games, and he’s played the majority of them. I think he’s doing fine.”
The Royals summoned Mondesi, the top prospect in their minor-league system, from Class AAA Omaha on July 26, one day before his 21st birthday. Club officials viewed the move as both an immediate spark and a nod toward 2017, when Mondesi figures to play a larger role.
Back on July 26, Yost described the promotion in these terms: “He’s a guy that’s going to be a part of our organization for years and years to come. So he’s just starting his tenure here now. We feel like he’s ready. And we wanted him to come up and get him some valuable experience.”
For now, Mondesi has struggled to take off at the plate. But the plan remains the same. On Sunday, he showed flashes of his potential.
Three pitchers continue rehab stints at Omaha
Royals closer Wade Davis could be nearing a return to Kansas City after throwing a scoreless inning for Class AAA Omaha on Saturday night. Davis appeared in the sixth inning, striking out one and allowing one hit against the Iowa Cubs.
Davis is expected to make at least one more appearance for Omaha — possibly on Monday — before the Royals make a decision on his return. He is recovering from a forearm strain, which landed him on the disabled list in late July.
Left-hander Jason Vargas also continued his rehab assignment Saturday night, allowing four earned runs in five innings pitched. Vargas retired the first seven batters of the game before allowing a pair of homers in the third. It was Vargas’ fifth outing since beginning a rehab assignment on Aug. 7. His pitch count reached 74 in five innings as he finished with six strikeouts and zero walks.
Kris Medlen also pitched Saturday, striking out two batters in two scoreless innings. It was his fourth outing since re-starting a rehab assignment on Aug. 16. All four appearances have been limited to fewer than 35 pitches.