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

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan responds to questions from Royals fans
February 9, 2018

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

The Royals are very high on Cam Gallagher, but there'd have to be an injury to Salvador Perez or Andrew 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.

I love these questions. I'll say Lenik.

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.

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.

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.