Prospect hounds love to sniff around the backfields in spring training. They measure the young talent to try to get a feel about which newcomers could contribute in the coming season. If you want to discuss prospects in the fall, Arizona and the Fall League is where you want to be. The World Series is serious business.
Except the Royals turned that conventional wisdom upside down this morning when they announced Raul Mondesi, Jr. would be on the World Series roster in place of designated burner, Terrance Gore.
The way Ned Yost manages never reaches state secret status. It doesn’t even rate secrecy status in a municipality or a hamlet. In October, Yost has been using Paulo Orlando as a defensive replacement for Alex Rios. Jarrod Dyson (and Gore) have been the featured pinch runners. Plus, with Gore off the roster, Mondesi fills that role, but gives Yost the added utility of his defense in the middle infield.
Then there’s the added uncertainty around Ben Zobrist and his availability for the next week. His wife is expecting and is due after the Series. Of course, infants like to arrive on their own schedule. We could have shades of Bret Saberhagen in ’85 again, pitching just ahead of his own son being born. Should Zobrist miss time, you could see where the Royals would start Christian Colon, hit him low in the order, and swap him out in the later innings, using Mondesi as a defensive replacement.
I would write something pithy about this being a new age Royals team that would call up a 20 year old playing above his level in Double-A, but if you had told me 16 months ago the Royals were going to be playing in their second consecutive World Series in 2015, I would flamed you on Twitter for being super mean. Instead, I’ll just nod, secure in the knowledge that Dayton Moore and his staff understand their team better than anyone, and they have a firm grasp on the current situation. As a sucker for rookies and their first major league base hits, I’ll be over here, spending a good chunk of the Series rooting for Mondesi to not only get a plate appearance, but to collect his first hit. Could you imagine?
Meanwhile, the rest of the roster is unchanged. You know the rotation. The batting order will be unchanged. The sequencing out of the bullpen… Yeah, that could be changed. Except for Wade Davis. As I write this, first pitch is five hours away. The only certainty (besides the lineup) is Wade Davis. And thank goodness for that.
Buckle up. Should be a helluva series.