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PIO notes: Mondesi promises discipline

Son of former Major Leaguer learning from mistakes in Helena
July 5, 2012
When asked to describe the incident that has so far defined his young Minor League career, Raul Mondesi Jr. isn't very forthcoming.

The 19-year-old Helena Brewers outfielder would rather talk about his rich baseball lineage, his attributes on the field or his dedication to the game. He'd rather forget the monumental gaffe he made in the Brewers' 2-1 loss to Missoula on June 25.

"I know I made a mistake," Mondesi said. "I learned from it and it will not happen again."

In case you didn't see it on Deadspin or YouTube (yes, it went viral), here's a recap: Mondesi hit what would have been a game-tying, two-run homer in the 10th inning against Missoula, but he failed to touch home plate. The Osprey appealed, and Mondesi was called out to end the game.

The game had been contentious up to that point, Mondesi recalled. Ty Linton hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th to give Missoula the lead. Helena reliever Manuel Ruiz had already hit Rudy Flores, then followed Linton's homer by plunking Daniel Pulfer.

"We were going to fight," Mondesi said.

So, when Mondesi homered over the center-field wall to tie the game again with two outs in the bottom half of the inning off Missoula reliever Dexter Price, he wanted to make a point -- one that would resonate beyond simply getting the best of his opponent in a clutch situation.

"When I hit the home run, when I was going to touch home plate, I started doing this," said Mondesi, demonstrating the taunting gesture he cast toward Missoula's dugout. "I did not focus on touching the plate. I didn't see it."

Osprey catcher Michael Perez noticed Mondesi did not touch the plate and asked for an appeal. Sure enough, Mondesi was called out and the game was over.

"You're going to see some things at this level that make you say, 'Wow. What's the thought process there?' Brewers manager Jeff Isom said. "We'll tell our guys it's OK to make mistakes, but you have to learn from them and not make the same ones again.

"I hadn't heard of anything like that happening before, but it happened to us. We talked with Raul about it and told him he has to learn from it. There's nothing he can do about it now. It's in the past. Let's just move on to the future and be more attentive to details."

Mondesi is the son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi. The elder Mondesi played 16 seasons in the Majors and won Rookie of the Year in 1994 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Like his son, he played in the Pioneer League, spending his first year of professional baseball with Great Falls in 1990.

Mondesi is said to have a great arm like his father did, as his six assists entering the games of July 4 attest to. He's still trying to get acclimated at the plate, though -- he was hitting .203 with just six RBIs in 64 at-bats. He had struck out a league-high 24 times.

Mondesi is adjusting to the professional game, just like any young player, regardless of who his father is. And regardless of the mistakes he's made.

"You try to be a good baseball player because wherever you go in a ballpark or a game and they say, 'Mondesi Jr.,' people think 'Raul Mondesi,'" he said. "So you have to try to do things right because you're representing him. You're his son.

"I know this game brings ups and downs. You can have a tough day today, but tomorrow you can come and be the hero for your team. It's all about fun. You have to have fun and enjoy it."

In brief

Another cycle: Missoula's Daniel Pulfer hit for the cycle in a 20-0 rout of Helena on June 27. It was the first cycle in the Pioneer League this season but the sixth since last year, joining Orem's Jerod Yakubik, Idaho Falls' Daniel Mateo, Casper's David Kandilas, Helena's Yadiel Rivera and Orem's Taylor Lindsey.

Brilliant Barbosa: Andrew Barbosa's 13 strikeouts for Missoula in a 10-5 victory over Billings on July 2 were a career high. In 16 innings this season, Barbosa has yet to give up an earned run and has 24 strikeouts against seven walks while allowing only four hits.

Smile and wink: After a slow start, Billings outfielder Jesse Winker has found his groove at the plate. In the previous 10 games entering July 4, Winker hit .533 (16-for-30) with six runs scored and five RBIs. Winker, a supplemental first-round pick in 2012 by the Cincinnati Reds, raised his league-best on-base percentage to .554.

Greg Rachac is a contributor to