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Mondesi surprise highlights Opening Day roster

April 1, 2017

Our first go-around at projecting the Royals' Opening Day roster wasn't that far off. But as manager Ned Yost likes to say every year, there is always a surprise or two in camp.And that held true this time, as no one, not even Yost, could have foreseen Raul Mondesi rising

Our first go-around at projecting the Royals' Opening Day roster wasn't that far off. But as manager Ned Yost likes to say every year, there is always a surprise or two in camp.
And that held true this time, as no one, not even Yost, could have foreseen Raul Mondesi rising up and grabbing the second-base job. On Sunday, the Royals finalized their final 25:
Catchers:Salvador Perez, Andrew Butera
This, of course, looked in doubt earlier in March when Butera collided with Perez's knee at home plate in a World Baseball Classic game. But the MRI came back clean on Perez's knee, and the Royals' organization collectively exhaled.
First base:Eric Hosmer
Last year's MVP at the MasterCard All-Star Game was a unanimous all-Classic tourney pick, helping Team USA win a gold.

Second base: Mondesi
We had projected Whit Merrifield to win this spot over Christian Colon and Cheslor Cuthbert, with a courtesy mention to Mondesi back in February. We whiffed. Merrifield, who has options, was sent to Triple-A Omaha following Saturday's final Spring Training game. Colon, who does not have options, will get the other roster spot.
Shortstop:Alcides Escobar
Escobar is a pending free agent, and that is another good reason to have Mondesi in the big leagues in 2017, because Mondesi could be the shortstop in '18.
Third base:Mike Moustakas
Coming off his right ACL surgery last May, Moustakas had a great spring and is ready to go, though his time at the hot corner will be monitored the first month of the season.

Starting outfield:Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Paulo Orlando
Jorge Soler would be the right fielder, but he will open the season on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained oblique. Orlando replaces him.
Designated hitter:Brandon Moss
Moss was locked in at the end of Spring Training, blasting three homers in the final week.

Bench: Colon, Cuthbert, Terrance Gore
We originally thought the Royals might go with an 11-man staff, thus creating an opening for speedy Billy Burns on the bench. But the Royals will go with seven in the bullpen. Still, Gore and his world-class speed could take Soler's spot. Cuthbert makes the team as the primary backup to Moustakas.
Rotation:Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas, Nathan Karns
Well, it wasn't exactly tough, but we did hit this one on the screws. Karns beat out Travis Wood and Christopher Young for the No. 5 spot.

Bullpen:Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Matt Strahm, Young, Mike Minor, Wood, Peter Moylan
The Royals hadn't yet acquired Wood when our first 25-man projection came out. And originally, we went out on a limb with Josh Staumont and his 100-mph fastball grabbing a bullpen spot. Moylan was added to the roster, and Hunter Dozier was placed on the 60-day DL to make room.

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