Raúl Ramón Mondesí Avelino 43
Born: March 12, 1971 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic
Bats: Right Throws: Right 5’11″ 225 lbs.
- All-Star selection (1995)
- 2× Gold Glove Award winner (1995, 1997)
- 1994 NL Rookie of the Year
One of the players I watched when I was younger was outfielder Raul Mondesi. I remember one time in the ’90s, Scott and I attended a Dodger game with my Uncle Mark. We would routinely wait outside the fenced in player’s parking lot after each game anxiously hoping for an autograph or two. One night Raul Mondesi came over to the fans to sign autographs. Luckily my Uncle is very tall, and he would reach our autograph books over the chain link fence to give to the players. This time my Uncle tried to give Mondesi the books and a pen, but he accidently dropped the pen right into Raul Mondesi’s eye! Raul put his hand on his eye, but being the nice guy that he was, gestured that he was okay and still decided to sign our books. Luckily for us that didn’t land him on the DL.
Mondesi was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic in 1988. His MLB debut was on July 19, 1993 against the Phillies as a pinch hitter. He hit a single against David West for his first career hit. He played in 42 games with the Dodgers that season, and hit .291 with 4 homeruns.
1994 was his breakout year. He played in 112 games, and finished with a .306 batting average, hitting 16 homeruns, 56 RBI, and 11 stolen bases. He was voted the NL Rookie of the Year making him the third RoY in a row for the Dodgers following Eric Karros and Mike Piazza the two years before.
The next year Mondesi hit .285 with 26 homeruns, 88 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. He was selected to the All-Star team and competed in the Home Run Derby. Raul won a Gold Glove that year as well for his defensive performance in right field.
Raul played in both the 1995 and 1996 NLDS for the Dodgers. In ’95 vs. the Reds, he had 2 hits in 9 at bats with 1 RBI. In the ’96 Division Series vs. the Braves, he hit 2 doubles in 11 at bats with 1 RBI.
In 1997 he had a great .310 average, hit 30 homeruns, 88 RBI, and stole 32 bases. He became the first Dodger ever to join the 30-30 club. He also won another Gold Glove for that season. He went on to have another 30-30 year in 1999 with 33 homeruns and 36 steals, but his batting average declined to .253. After his Dodger career ended, his numbers began to fade and a flurry of trades and new teams began.
On November 8, 1999 he was traded with Pedro Borbón, Jr. to the Toronto Blue Jays for Shawn Green and minor league player Jorge Nunez. He played 2 1/2 season for Toronto before being traded to the Yankees on July 1, 2002 for Scott Wiggins. Then he was traded again to the D-Backs on July 29, 2003 for David Dellucci, Bret Prinz, and minor leaguer John Prowl. He only played 45 games for Arizona.
In February 2004 he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent. He left the team in May to return to the Dominican Republic due to some legal issues. He was ordered to pay former big leaguer Mario Guerrero $640,000 for helping him become a Major Leaguer. Mondesi appealed this ruling, and he denied Guerrero’s claim that he ever helped him. When Mondesi suddenly left to deal with this the Pirates placed him on the restricted list. He did not return when the Pirates had requested, so they put him on waivers. He cleared waivers, and they released him.
Then later that month the Angels signed him, but the deal was a bit shady and investigated by MLB. It seemed like Mondesi essentially forced the Pirates to release him in order to sign with the first place Angels. The Pirates never protested his signing with the Angels, and any wrongdoing by the Angels was cleared. Shortly thereafter Raul tore his quadriceps and was DL’d. The Angels released him when he didn’t show up for his rehab.
Finally the Atlanta Braves signed Raul in 2005 where he played in 41 games before they released him that May.
Raul finished his career with a .273 average, 271 homeruns, and 860 RBI in his 13 seasons.
Mondesi is currently the mayor of his hometown San Cristobal Province in the Dominican Republic. Although the end of his career was a bit sketchy, his time as a Dodger will not be forgotten.
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