The Royals have promoted top infield prospect Raul Mondesi Jr. and optioned fellow infielder Whit Merrifield to Triple-A Omaha, per a club announcement. Mondesi joins the club about a month after the release of second baseman Omar Infante, giving him the opportunity to prove that he’s capable of being a long-term piece in Kansas City. Manager Ned Yost told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, that Mondesi is with the big league team to play second base, and Flanagan tweets that Mondesi will be playing “a lot” as he looks to prove himself.
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Mondesi, just 20 years old, entered the season rated as a Top 75 prospect in the eyes of Baseball America (29), MLB.com (37), Baseball Prospectus (16) and ESPN (73), and his strong play at a young age this year hasn’t changed that stock. Despite being one of the youngest players in both the Double-A Texas League and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Mondesi has batted a combined .268/.322/.469 with seven home runs and 24 stolen bases in 231 plate appearances. Of course, his playing time has also been limited this season by a suspension that was triggered by a failed PED test. However, Mondesi’s punishment was shortened from 80 games to 50 games after he was able to prove that the banned substance in question on his test was ingested when taking cold medicine purchased in his native Dominican Republic.
While some at the time questioned why Mondesi was punished if it was believed that the substance was truly ingested in error, the infielder himself owned the punishment, telling the media in a statement: “I failed to read the labeling on the medication or consult with my trainer or team about taking it and did not know it contained a banned substance.” Royals GM Dayton Moore said in a statement that the organization truly believed the failed test to be an error but also stressed the importance of a player being fully cognizant of every substance he puts into his body. “We have a protocol in place with our medical team should a player ever have questions about what they may be taking, even if an over-the-counter medication,” said Moore back in April.
Mondesi’s start tonight will be his regular season debut at the Major League level, but he does own the unprecedented distinction of being the first player in MLB history to make his Major League debut while playing in the World Series. He replaced the fleet-footed Terrance Gore on the Royals’ postseason roster following the American League Championship Series.