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Meet The New Guy: Adalberto Mondesi

He hasn’t lived up to his potential yet, but he’s still young.

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s switch hitter Adalberto Mondesi, and the Red Sox just traded Josh Taylor to the Kansas City Royals to get him (along with a player to be named later). He’s entering his age-27 season, and will be a free agent at the end of the year.

What position does he play?

He’s spent almost his entire career at shortstop, but has also seen a little time at second and third.

Is he any good?

It wasn’t all that long ago when people thought he was going to be really good. As the toolsy son of a former Major League All-Star, Mondesi received a $2 million signing bonus, became the first player ever to make his career debut in the World Series when he was just 20-years-old, and was named the #16 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus in 2016.

Seven yers later, however, Mondesi has not lived up to the hype. As a hitter, he has atrocious plate discipline, with walk rates that rank towards the very bottom of the league. And unfortunately, he doesn’t balance out his free-swinging with good contact skills: in 2019 (the only season in which he played at least 100 games) he had the 11th-highest strike out rate in all of baseball. He does have considerable pop in his bat, though, having once hit 14 homers in just 75 games in the 2018 season.

His best attributes are his defense and his speed. As a defender, he’s been close to an elite shortstop throughout his career, with a strong arm and excellent range. On the base paths, he’s proven to be one of the very best runners in the game, having stolen 133 bases with an 84% success rate in 358 career games.

Unfortunately, the defining characteristic of his career thus far has been his susceptibility to injury. He’s already made seven trips to the injured list, and he missed almost the entire 2022 season with a torn ACL.

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Wondering why there are doubles and triples but no quadruples.

Show me a cool highlight.

Let’s watch two-and-a-half minutes of pure speed, shall we?

What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?

It seems likely that he’ll come into Spring Training as the backup middle infielder as he works his way back from injury. It isn’t inconceivable, however, that at some point this season he ends up as the team’s primary starter at either second or short — and not solely as a result of inevitable injuries.

Mondesi still has the tools that made him such a highly regarded prospect; he’s still still in his athletic prime; and he’ll likely be a major beneficiary of the new pickoff rules and larger bases. If one of the presumptive outfield starters struggles, thus necessitating a move back to the grass by Kiké Hernandez — or if Mondesi simply manages to stay healthy and finally reaches something close to the potential he once had — he could earn an everyday role.