By: James Stanley
With the Kansas City Royals sitting a half a game back of first place in the American League Central, it is important to know what things the Royals have done right and wrong through the first 14 games of the season.
Last week the Royals called up prospect Whit Merrifield from Triple-A Omaha while sending down of the arms in their untypically less-than-stellar bullpen. But while the bullpen has been bad, run production continues to stifle with players eagerly waiting in Omaha to come replace their counterparts to bolster the Royals offense.
It is still too early to tell if the team will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, but one thing that is clear is that the Royals need to send down infielder Raul Mondesi to develop in the minors. Kansas City has three players on their 40-man roster who can play second base. Merrifield was hitting above .400 in Omaha, while infielder Christian Colon has proven that he deserves a utility infielder position on a major league roster with experience in the playoffs, and situations where he has come in as a defensive substitution late in games.
What epitomizes replacing Mondesi with Merrifield came in game one of the Royals-Giants series this week when Merrifield drew a walk in the bottom of the 10th inning with the Royals down a run. Mondesi came to bat a few hitters later, and swung at two inside balls that looked like the same pitches Merrifield took to help him walk. The stark contrast of the two was blatant, and Merrifield learned to be a patient hitter from spending more time in the minors. Not everyone is going to come up and instantly start hitting like George Brett. As of late Kansas City’s prospects have taken longer to develop and that will probably be the case with Mondesi.
Mondesi hit below .250 for the Omaha Stormchasers before being brought up last year, and currently is hitting .114 for the 2017 campaign. In 47 games played last season Mondesi was still well below the Mendoza line with a .185 batting average.
Merrifield has proved himself to earn a chance at the major league level. It is not only for the best interest of this team that Mondesi be sent down to mature, but also for Mondesi’s well-being. There is no way that a player who is struggling at the Major League level can mature if he continues to fail with no signs of improvement.