When Lexington manager Brian Buchanan talked about his shortstop, Raul Mondesi, after the Legends' 16-9 loss to Hagerstown on Sunday, there was one point he kept coming back to.
"The kid is only 17 years old," he said, echoing that sentiment five times in a three-minute interview.
Mondesi's age didn't hold back the Royals' No. 6 prospect at Hagerstown as the Los Angeles native slugged a pair of homers and drove in three runs.
The son of the former Major League outfielder with the same name, Mondesi is a switch-hitter who slugged both of his home runs from the left side Sunday. They were his second and third homers of the season -- the other came as a right-handed hitter -- as the infielder has been slow to get rolling in the Class A South Atlantic League.
Mondesi was hitting .212 with a .569 OPS against right-handed pitching. He's had more success against lefties with a .270 average in 37 at-bats, but Buchanan sees him making positive strides from both sides of the plate.
"He's a good baseball player," the former big league outfielder said. "We're trying to get him to get his swing path straightened out and hit line drives.
"We're trying to keep him going in the right direction, hitting line drives up the middle. Like I said, he's 17 years old. We're trying to teach him the right swing path, getting him hitting on time. He's been doing fine for us. He's doing a good job."
Mondesi is batting .230 for the season but has begun to break out of late, going 8-for-23 (.348) in his last six games. He has the tools and pedigree to develop as a solid hitter, but it's his defense that garners the most positive reviews at this stage.
"His instincts for a 17-year-old are incredible," Buchanan said. "He's smooth around shortstop. He can make plays on his backhand or forehand. He can do it all. The biggest thing for a shortstop is instincts, and his body control when he's diving and making plays, it's impressive for such a young kid."
Mondesi already has shown some positive offensive skills in pro ball, hitting .290 with a .733 OPS for Rookie-level Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League last summer. The potential is there for him to be an impact talent in Kansas City one day, and Buchanan is confident that the teen's makeup is going to give him a chance to realize his potential.
"He loves the game and loves working," Buchanan said. "He loves playing the game, which you can see. He's a special talent."
Fred Ford also homered and drove in a pair of runs for the Legends, while Bubba Starling -- the Royals' top prospect -- singled, walked, stole his seventh base of the season, scored a run and plated another with a groundout.
Lexington jumped out to a 6-1 lead, but Hagerstown scored six runs in the third and eight more in the sixth.
Estarlin Martinez went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and five RBIs for the Suns, who got four RBIs and three runs scored from Will Piwnica-Worms. Khayyan Norfork contributed four hits, stolen three bases and scored twice.