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March 19, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

The Magic of Mondesi

by Jason Parks

In the unexpected event of witnessing magic, please keep a tether to your breath and a shot of Fernet on the ready. It’s important to be alert when it happens. I think I saw it happen last fall; my mind is a mess from failures of the past and the sunshine, but I’d wager that I saw it happen last fall. I was freshly sad and sampled, covered in an emotional fur that resembled actual fur because my tears had long dried up and turned into hair and like Velcro I attracted debris and I bathed in a river to avoid humiliation. Sad eyes searching for a prize, and I found it on a field, with direct heat cooking me from the outside in. I turned to a friend and asked if he believed in enchantment. He said she was never coming back.

I think it happened on a numbered field in front of a small number of people, hats over all the heads to protect them from the seductive nature of prospect sorcery. I acquiesce to all charms and attentions, and I rarely wear hats because it can temper the effect, and when you are lost, it’s important not to temper the effect. He was playing shortstop--a precocious study—and I was playing the wishful thinker. The name on the jersey suggested we pay attention regardless of action and I did with ardent intent; although, names are just names and magic is best delivered by moves and not by patronymic means, or by other forms of surface heredity. But I was paying attention, and the son of Raul Mondesi started sawing a woman in half in between the left-side bases, much to the delight of this audience of one.

I jotted down a name and the number 6, and I checked my phone for the happy birthday text from my ex that never arrived. I should have been born earlier in the year. The number 6 holds special significance in the scouting lexicon, like a gold star on a page or an unfettered smile on a face that also happens to like your face. It’s a plus distinction, a separator of common things from things less common. I put a six on his glove based on the choreography of one play, a simple groundball that disappeared up his sleeve and reappeared behind the ear of his teammate on the receiving end. The tuxedo might have been a bit much, but pageantry and theater can boost the price of admission. I was ready to see his next show.

Adalberto Mondesi is a 17-year-old shortstop prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization, and I’m pretty sure he is magic. It’s now spring. A season where imagination gains control over emotion—the intrinsic burden of non-compos mentis notwithstanding—and if you stare into the sun long enough, anything is possible. I once visited a Transubstantiation booth on the backfields where high-ceiling talent will turn your own blood into prospect wine for a nominal fee and the burden of faith. I told the friendly man behind the curtain that I once wrote down a 6 based on sense, and that I wanted to write more 6’s and I wanted to drink more potions. I gave him my soul and he simplified my life by saying she was never coming back and I could either decay or head over to field 6 to watch a teenager wax balletic in a private show. Life isn’t as hard we want it to be.

Grace is difficult to define but easy to identify, even for the clumsiest of creatures, and paradoxically, in our most sophisticated hour, we wear awkwardness as accessories. Our eyes are designed to recognize and appreciate patterns and fluidity and beauty, which is one of the reasons handsome people do well in ocean settings. You need not come from a scouting background to stand on a field and comprehend elegant maneuvers, and after a few minutes of motion and memory, the picture of grace becomes representational and alive, and we all grab pens to form 6’s on a page. We splash in the water out of acceptance of the beauty around us, not out of puerile innocence.

Prospect wine in my bloodstream, I eagerly await the spectacle of discovery and the subsequent responsibility of command. It’s important to stay in command of the fervor once the fervor becomes fur and covers your body. A groundball on a date with the space three feet to the left of the second base bag gets interrupted by the leather fingers of Magic Mondesi, quietly transferred to his coiled right arm, and delivered to first as he athletically tiptoes over the hard rubber obstacle to start the double play. It’s a major-league quality play executed by a would-be high school junior on a field with adults being watched by adults, and I struggle to act like an adult in the aftermath.

My phone buzzes and it’s the past calling to say that witchcraft is for the weak. I take the call because I make foolish choices and find comfort in my own defense, but just as I go lips to lips with my demons, Mondesi is stepping into the box and is preparing to hit. Loose and wiry, his hands are quick and offer protection and attack both inside and out. His body is immature but not lifeless, and the whippy swing offers some strength and speed. The magic lives in the hands, and I’m once again attracted to their action. He might be wearing gloves made of glitter. Something is sparkling, like light on an ocean handsome, and I ask the scout to my left if he thinks it's store-bought glitter or naturally occurring glitter. He asks me if I’ve been staring into the sun again and I tell him that magic is real and that I’ve seen it. He tells me that she is never coming back. I tell him that I no longer need her to. I paid a nominal fee and the burden of faith, and I returned my eyes to the show, where illusions are more than just inventions of the mind, they are realities of the moment.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Raul Mondesi,  Adalberto Mondesi

54 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

dkmac2020

Somebody's been eating magic mushrooms again...

Mar 19, 2013 02:46 AM
rating: 3
 
boatman44

Wonderful piece Jason, to say your "waxing lyrical" would be an injustice.An insightful piece from an insightful mind about the magic of discovering a six. thank you.

Mar 19, 2013 02:50 AM
rating: 1
 
mblthd

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/89/89qsportsmachine.phtml

Mar 19, 2013 03:55 AM
rating: 1
 
Andy Cochrane

So he's pretty good then.

Mar 19, 2013 04:23 AM
rating: 2
 
majnun

:-)

Mar 19, 2013 04:50 AM
rating: 1
 
Yefrem

Heavy

Mar 19, 2013 05:50 AM
rating: 1
 
jmercan

Magic.

Mar 19, 2013 06:10 AM
rating: 1
 
niffoc4
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

So... in seven paragraphs we learn that Adalberto Mondesi is "magic" that he can make a major league-caliber play going to his left, and although his body is immature he has quick hands with a swing that offers strength and speed.

I get the feeling I'm in the minority, and I feel curmudgeonly for saying it, but that's the information I read these articles for.

Mar 19, 2013 06:51 AM
rating: -11
 
gweedoh565

And in 95% of the prospect-related articles on this site, that's what you get.

Mar 19, 2013 07:44 AM
rating: 20
 
gweedoh565

...my implication being that all you have to do is go to the next article if Jason's off-the-beaten path pieces are not your bag.

Mar 19, 2013 07:46 AM
rating: 2
 
warpigs

The kid is 17 years old and headed for A ball. Perhaps you'd do better to think about this particular article as the exclamation point to some of Jason's other recent words about Mondesi, such as http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19043

Mar 19, 2013 07:54 AM
rating: 6
 
devine

You're not alone.

Mar 19, 2013 15:05 PM
rating: 6
 
johnwood427

Sure there is a place for comments, but when someone is performing a high wire act, who would think it appropriate or critically helpful to scream "Bah!"?
I don't understand what motivates that type of behavior.

Mar 20, 2013 07:15 AM
rating: 0
 
bobbygrace

You need magic hands if you're going to grow up playing catch with Raul Mondesi.

Nicely done, Jason.

Mar 19, 2013 06:53 AM
rating: 3
 
cmellinger

Now when is that novel that Mr. Goldman predicted coming out?

Mar 19, 2013 07:18 AM
rating: 2
 
Kendall Guillemette

Jason, This is why you write for BP and not some schlocky media outlet. I'm glad that at BP there is room for verse, heart, pain, joy, wonder and seeing a six.

'm glad negativity isn't going to dissuade you from writing how you want to write.

Mar 19, 2013 07:30 AM
rating: 25
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Many thanks! I love writing for BP because they encourage out of the box thinking, regardless of the delivery.

Mar 19, 2013 07:33 AM
 
JoeTetreault

with mere words words alone
on the canvas of my mind
you have made magic

Mar 19, 2013 07:35 AM
rating: 1
 
warpigs

Jason, I found the piece funny, informative and entertaining. Perfectly done. I'll probably go back to it later today and enjoy it a second time, just to see what I may have missed the first time through.

Mar 19, 2013 07:43 AM
rating: 1
 
maxjusttyped

Articles like this are *exactly* why I love reading Jason Parks.

Mar 19, 2013 08:05 AM
rating: 10
 
kcshankd

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

I might print this out and frame it.

Mar 19, 2013 09:06 AM
rating: 1
 
GTOFORMULA400

You're the best in the business Professor Parks! Great read as always

Mar 19, 2013 09:12 AM
rating: 1
 
nolansdad

"He might be wearing gloves made of glitter."

I can see you at this moment: eyes glistening and agape, the anticipation of the magic about to happen has you on the edge of your seat.

Love it.

Mar 19, 2013 09:30 AM
rating: 1
 
beckerharry

#want

Mar 19, 2013 09:36 AM
rating: 1
 
BayCityM

Bravo. To my works like this are what takes BP from a "6" to a "7". In the right situation it can even play up.

Mar 19, 2013 09:37 AM
rating: 1
 
wilymo

prospects will break your heart man

Mar 19, 2013 09:38 AM
rating: 1
 
Andrew13

Loved it and I echo some of the sentiments above, this is the kinda thing that really makes me love BP.

Nice work Mr.Parks

Mar 19, 2013 09:45 AM
rating: 1
 
skelton

man, thank god BP allows this kind of stuff.

Mar 19, 2013 10:30 AM
rating: 6
 
amazin_mess

Man...that is excellent writing.

Mar 19, 2013 11:14 AM
rating: 1
 
bg2388

These are the articles that make my subscription worth the money.
Thank You

Mar 19, 2013 11:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Johnston
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

These are the kinds of articles that make me wonder why I ever subscribed.

More baseball facts and less lyricism, please.

Mar 19, 2013 12:12 PM
rating: -13
 
Behemoth

You do know it's a free article?

Mar 19, 2013 13:34 PM
rating: 5
 
amazin_mess

You new here?

Mar 19, 2013 14:08 PM
rating: 1
 
Llarry

Lighten up, Francis.

Plenty of hard facts in the other 5 billion articles on the site. A little art and poetry makes it a less drab place.

Mar 19, 2013 15:37 PM
rating: 2
 
John Douglass

Fact: comments hating on Parks for these occasional flights of fancy are sub replacement level.

Mar 19, 2013 17:18 PM
rating: 4
 
johnwood427

bad day?

Mar 19, 2013 20:10 PM
rating: -1
 
Big Poop

some wonderful NyQuil induced dream, painted with pen and paper.

You are a beautiful mind.

Mar 19, 2013 12:56 PM
rating: 1
 
stoonky

If you and Chuck Klosterman ever hang out, can I please be invited?

Mar 19, 2013 13:02 PM
rating: 1
 
radiobob

The combination of magic and lost love you write about made me think of this song by the late Dave Carter, called Merlin's Lament:
In a castle keep, in a vault of stone, in a house at the end of the lane
And old man weeps in his door alone and he sings out this mournful refrain

She will not come back, she will not come back
Though the mountains fall down to the sea
And the sky burns to cinders and the river runs black
She will not come back to me

No lightnin' rede from his books of lore, and the staff in the corner, no fire
And the crystal ball always bright before is grey as the dust of desire

She will not come back, she will not come back
Though he call on the powers that be
They will cipher this message in his cold zodiac
She will not come back to me

And joy my love was a dancin spring, and life was the touch of her lips
And a brook ran mad to my cave downstream from the miracle hills of her hips

She will not come back, she will not come back
Though the stars hang their tears in the trees
And tireless Orion lies spent in his tracks
She will not come back
She will not come back
She will not come back to me

Mar 19, 2013 13:34 PM
rating: 1
 
radiobob

Which is where i am right now, I guess I need some magic Mondesi somewhere. Thanks for providing a glimpse of that.

Mar 19, 2013 13:34 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Thanks for all the kind words. Obviously this type of piece isn't for everybody, and I don't expect it to receive a wam welcome from every reader. But I like to think the meat and potatoes scouting stuff we offer is more than enough to satisfy the hardcore palate, which gives me an opportunity to explore a different delivery when the setting fits. Baseball is a passion, but its not my only passion, and I feel like that is true of the audience as well. This is just one outlet I use to bridge my interests. If you are looking for a meaty scouting report on Mondesi, you can check out the Royals Top Ten and eat your scouting fill. With this piece, I just wanted to invite people into my head for a brief 1000 words.

Mar 19, 2013 17:00 PM
 
amazin_mess

And 99% of BP readers thank you for it.

Mar 19, 2013 19:16 PM
rating: 7
 
NYYanks826

I hope Magic Mondesi isn't the sequel to Magic Mike.

Very nice article, Jason.

Mar 19, 2013 17:33 PM
rating: 0
 
wordyginters

Excellent. Transcendent. Thanks for the great read Jason.

Mar 19, 2013 18:07 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

Jason - well done. I was reminded of something in a similar vein you penned last year (IIRC) on Cheslor Cuthbert (IIRC). What separates Mondesi from Cuthbert in the eyes of the enthralled?

Mar 19, 2013 18:17 PM
rating: 0
 
Auggie6

Screw you for entertaining me jason. I subscribe to bp so that i can appear to be smarter than everyone else i know, not to be entertained!

Mar 19, 2013 18:28 PM
rating: 3
 
robbtodd

Enjoyed the writing. No way this kid is #58 right now.

Mar 19, 2013 19:52 PM
rating: 0
 
jtpapka

My favorite line.... I ask the scout to my left if he thinks it's store-bought glitter or naturally occurring glitter.....

Thanks Professor!

Mar 19, 2013 20:35 PM
rating: 1
 
DABanales

I feel like I should print this out on that paper that looks like a scroll with burned edges that everyone seems to own but no one ever uses. I tip my hat and take my hat off and tip it again to you. Then take it off and tip it again. I wish you could have regular pieces like this: "Episodes of Jason's Mind"

Mar 19, 2013 20:48 PM
rating: 1
 
jfranco77

I want to picture Jason working as a scout and sending in this report. It would be awesome.

And of course the final line would be

OFP: Unicorn

Mar 20, 2013 18:26 PM
rating: 3
 
bkverve99

Thank you, Jason.

Mar 20, 2013 20:16 PM
rating: 2
 
Matt Commins

Awesome work!!

Mar 21, 2013 15:33 PM
rating: 1
 
cjmart29

I skipped over reading this the first time I came across it. I was in a hurry at that moment (as most of us are most of the time) and only had the patience for a quick hit/scouting report blurb, as my cigarette was burning close to the filter. Coming across this again, when life's stresses aren't weighing as heavily (for a few moments anyway), I just want to say thanks for an awesome read.

Mar 28, 2013 07:38 AM
rating: 0
 
brborchardt

Over a year later and I still think about this article. Had to come back for a second read..

Apr 28, 2014 19:58 PM
rating: 0
 
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