Shortstop, at first glance, appears to be a no-brainer for the Royals entering 2021. The team loves Adalberto Mondesi’s potential, and the only legitimate candidate to take over, Bobby Witt, has never played a minor league game.
Adalberto Mondesi has all kinds of talent. We have seen it in spurts but never for an entire season. Mondesi could win an MVP award if he is ever able to put together a solid season. Mondesi is the incumbent at shortstop and will most likely start the season as the Royals’ everyday shortstop.
Mondesi has not played more than 102 games in a season in his five years in the majors. To be fair, he played 59 of the 60 games last season. His best on-base percentage for a season was .306 in 2018. That was also his best OPS season at .804. While Mondesi has all kinds of talent offensively, he hasn’t lived up to the hype so far.
As good as Mondesi is as an athlete and shortstop, he’s going to be pushed by top prospect Bobby Witt at some point. The people I have read and listened to seem to think that Witt is the shortstop of the future for the Royals. That future should start when Witt is not ready, regardless of when that time comes.
So what do you do with Mondesi when Witt is ready? That is going to depend on what Mondesi does between now and then. If Mondesi is playing well offensively, then he needs to be moved to the outfield to make room for Witt. Mondesi’s speed in the outfield would be beautiful to watch. Sure, you could also put him at second base or third base, but I see him helping more in the outfield right now. Of course, all of this depends on what the Royals need at the time.
Could Witt break camp as the starting shortstop? I doubt it. I don’t see any way Dayton Moore would have that happen. That’s not how Moore develops players. He is going to want Witt to play in the minor leagues first. Plus, if there were a chance Witt could win the starting job, Moore would have Mondesi working out at other positions in Spring Training. So my first thought is that if Witt makes the major league roster, which is doubtful, he will likely play somewhere else.
When Witt takes over at shortstop, I don’t think he is giving it back. If Witt is everything we hear, the transition should start by late 2021 or early 2022.