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Inbox: Could Mondesi take over at SS in '18?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan responds to questions from Royals fans
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- We're just a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training (on Tuesday), so here's our last Royals Inbox before the fun starts.

We start with a question about shortstop Raul Mondesi and his immediate future with the Royals.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- We're just a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training (on Tuesday), so here's our last Royals Inbox before the fun starts.

We start with a question about shortstop Raul Mondesi and his immediate future with the Royals.

Tweet from @ewieberg: If Mondesi has another solid start in AAA, do you think the Royals will call him up mid-season to play over Escobar? Or was Escobar signed to play another 162?

That's really a good question, Eric. General manager Dayton Moore seemed fairly adamant two weeks ago that Alcides Escobar was signed to play regularly again. But the truth is, Mondesi is the future. If Mondesi shines at Triple-A, the guess here is that the Royals wouldn't hesitate to start the future rolling now. But they have to be 100 percent convinced that Mondesi can withstand the rigors of everyday life in the bigs.

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Tweet from @BigSamMob: What do things look like for Richard Lovelady this year? Do you think he will be in KC early this season? I know he was at AA last year, but the team likes what they see.

The Royals never have been afraid of promoting someone from Double-A to the bigs. They love Richard Lovelady's stuff. Considering their rebuilding phase, I would be very surprised if he doesn't get called up at some point this season, unless he struggles in the Minors.

Tweet from @KingGuwoop: Over/under 70 wins this year? Maybe a final win prediction too?

Over. It could get rough through this rebuilding period, but my guess is that there will be a new sense of energy around this year's team. I'm not saying this team will win 90 games and make the playoffs, but this front office and coaching staff won't allow for a tank job.

Tweet from @hotchman: Which Minor League player that is invited to camp are you most excited to see?

Two guys, really. Lovelady for one, and right-hander Kevin Lenik, who is a fascinating story. The Royals signed Lenik, a former Rangers farmhand, out of the independent Frontier League and he dominated in the Minors last season. He is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds with a 95-99 mph fastball. He had a minor setback in winter ball, but is healthy now. Small-market teams like the Royals live for scouting finds like this.

Tweet from @MMoxley17: Does Gallagher have any realistic chance of winning the backup catcher job?

The Royals are very high on Cam Gallagher, but there'd have to be an injury to Salvador Perez or Drew Butera for him to make the 25-man roster this season. They love Butera as the backup, with good reason. Gallagher has a bright future, and Royals fans saw a glimpse of his potential last season.

Tweet from @KansasJeremy: biggest surprise name that ends up on opening day roster?

I love these questions. I'll say Lenik.

Tweet from @69mstang: Percentage chance of retaining Hoz?

By far the most-asked question I get. Obviously, the longer Eric Hosmer stays out there unsigned, the greater the chance he signs with the Royals. Moore is being cautious about saying too much about Hosmer. But I still have a hunch he ends up back in KC. I've been wrong before.

Tweet from @Scott_ZT: Will the Royals make it a priority to get Bonifacio and Soler everyday AB���s in 2018?

Yes, I would be shocked if Jorge Bonifacio isn't the everyday right fielder getting 600 plate appearances. And Jorge Soler is out of options, so he'll get his chance.

Tweet from @BillCarle1: I'll take "Who Plays First?" for $100, Alex. What do the Royals think about Frank Schwindel?

The Royals still have high hopes for Frank Schwindel and Ryan O'Hearn, even though they weren't put on the 40-man roster. Schwindel is more advanced offensively, but I have to say that I thought O'Hearn's swing (from what I saw last spring) is as smooth as anyone's in the organization.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals