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Name game: Mondesi opts to go by Adalberto

Royals infielder takes middle name after previously using Raul
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals infielder formerly known as Raul Mondesi said he will now go by his middle name of Adalberto (ADD-al-berto), because he wanted to distinguish himself from his family members.

After all, his father is Raul Mondesi -- the longtime Dodgers star -- and he has a brother named Raul Jr.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals infielder formerly known as Raul Mondesi said he will now go by his middle name of Adalberto (ADD-al-berto), because he wanted to distinguish himself from his family members.

After all, his father is Raul Mondesi -- the longtime Dodgers star -- and he has a brother named Raul Jr.

"I just wanted to be different and use my [middle name]," Adalberto Mondesi said. "When I signed, [Adalberto] is the name I used.

"Back home, everyone knows me by that."

Around the Royals' clubhouse, Mondesi is called something else.

"Here, the team and everyone knows me by 'Mondi,'" Mondesi said, smiling.

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By any name, Mondesi is easily one of the most talented players in the Royals' organization. He is a five-tool player with enormous upside.

As Mondesi took a round of batting practice earlier this week, belting line drives all over the field, a club official shook his head and said, "It just looks so easy, so natural for him."

But that skill set has yet to emerge at the big league level. Mondesi became the first player to make his Major League debut in the World Series (at age 20) in the 2015 Fall Classic.

Then Mondesi, quite unexpectedly, wowed the coaching staff last spring and grabbed the second-base job going into Opening Day. But he was overmatched by big league pitching in April, hitting .170 in 25 games, and he was quickly was sent back to Triple-A Omaha.

The Royals remain patient, pointing out that Mondesi is only 22 years old. And they know Mondesi has battled numerous back issues through his young career, and a back issue popped up again in the offseason. He says he is healthy now.

Still, it appeared that Mondesi would get first crack at the shortstop position this offseason as the Royals go through a significant rebuild. But then they re-signed Alcides Escobar in January, suggesting that the club was more inclined to see if Mondesi could simply get through a full season healthy at Omaha.

Mondesi said he wasn't dismayed by the Escobar signing.

"He's a great player," Mondesi said. "It's good for us to learn from him."

Manager Ned Yost, though, said he hasn't ruled out Mondesi from the Opening Day roster, noting that Mondesi could play second base and Whit Merrifield could become a super utility player.

Mondesi keeps his hopes high.

"Everybody has a chance to play [now]," Mondesi said. "Everyone has a chance. … I just need to focus more on the game and I know it will be better. It's going to come."

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

Kansas City Royals, Adalberto Mondesi