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Crafting own legend, Mondesi cycles

Royals prospect wants to be better than his All-Star father
May 27, 2013

Being the son of a Major Leaguer has its advantages, but Raul Mondesi -- the son of a Gold Glove Award winner of the same name -- wants to be remembered for what he accomplishes on the field.

On Monday evening, the 17-year-old shortstop continued to hone his own legend.

One game after homering twice, the Royals' No. 6 prospect went 4-for-4 to hit for the cycle in the Class A Lexington Legends' 7-4 win over the visiting Kannapolis Intimidators.

"I play for my family every time I go out there," Mondesi said through teammate Adrian Morales. "I want to do good for my family and help the Royals win and do what I can to get to the next level. I want to be better than my father, or at least be on the same level as him.

"I want to be consistent and be good on both sides of the ball, on offense and defense, like he was."

Batting from the left side of the plate against starter Brandon Brennan, switch-hitting Mondesi pulled a triple to right field in the first inning, homered to right-center field with one out in the third and beat out an infield single to shortstop in the fifth.

"I got behind two strikes and I was just trying to battle and put the ball in play," the 165-pound Mondesi said of his triple. "He hung a changeup and I put a good swing on it. Right out of the box I thought triple, and my coach waved me in and I got to third.

"Home run, same thing. I had one strike and I was looking to put it in play. He hung a changeup and I hit it out of the park."

In the sixth against southpaw Todd Kibby, Mondesi -- hitting from the opposite side of the dish -- laced a two-run double to left field to complete his cycle bid.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2011, Mondesi is the second Legend to accomplish the feat, joining Jordan Parraz, who did it July 26, 2007, in a 14-inning game against Lakewood. It also marked the first time he amassed four hits in a game.

Mondesi is the first player in the South Atlantic League to hit for the cycle this year and just the second in the past four seasons. Kannapolis' Bill Rice last accomplished the feat against Greensboro last July 15.

"First time," said Mondesi, who hit .290 in 50 Pioneer League games in his rookie season with Idaho Falls last year. "I've been close a couple times, but I missed the home run. I knew I needed the double tonight, but I was trying to drive in the runners on base rather than hit the double. I hit it down the line and got to second base."

Lexington hitting coach Justin Gemoll said Mondesi keeps getting better.

"I don't think I've ever seen a guy hit for the cycle in person on any of the teams I have played on or coached," said Gemoll. "It's a pretty rare occasion.

"He has really been working hard every day. He's one of the first people to show up in the cage and he's a tireless worker. He's consistently asking questions and trying to get better, and it's starting to show on the field."

Mondesi is now hitting .247, having raised his average 22 points in two days. He was batting as low as .212 on May 18, but he has gone 12-for-27 (.444) over his past seven outings.

"I was just trying to find my rhythm," said Mondesi, who batted second and served as the designated hitter. "My timing has been off, but lately I've been trying to go up the middle so I can stay on the offspeed pitches and not lunge at them."

Mondesi's father made his Major League debut as a 22-year-old with the Dodgers in 1993, and he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award the following season. An All-Star in 1995, Mondesi -- who now lives in the Dominican Republic -- was a lifetime .273 hitter with 271 homers and 229 stolen bases over 13 seasons between the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, D-backs, Pirates, Angels and Braves.

"I speak with my father every day and he gives me advice because he has been to the Major Leagues and he has also been on these bus rides [in the Minors]," added Mondesi, who said he does not get compared with his father too often.

"We play different positions. My father was more powerful and he played right field with a good arm. I'm a shortstop and a switch-hitter who hits for average and runs the bases. I'm going to try to get better and better as the season goes along."

Gemoll, a 14th-round pick of the Royals in 2000, spent seven seasons in the Minors, where he hit .276 with 29 homers and 246 RBIs. He predicts big things for Mondesi.

"He is an electric player ... He is amazing. He can be a guy we are talking about years from now when we compare other players to Raul Mondesi. He is a special, special talent. He has a very, very bright future."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB.