Roman Mendez Scouting Report: Texas Ranger minor league pitcher Roman Mendez ranked #28 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Roman Mendez...
Roman Mendez is a 6'2", 180 lb. righthanded pitcher who turns 24 years old in July. Mendez was signed by the Boston Red Sox in July, 2007, out of San Pedro de Macoris* in the Dominican Republic for a signing bonus of $125,000.
* Bill James once wrote that there were so many players who came from San Pedro de Macoris that a generation of kids growing up reading the back of baseball cards would think it was bigger than Brazil.
Mendez spent 2008 pitching in the Dominican Summer League, posting a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings, and then came stateside in 2009, putting up a 1.99 ERA in the Gulf Coast League as an 18 year old, striking out 47 in 49.2 innings and walking just 8 hitters and allowing a lone home run. Baseball America listed Mendez as their #12 prospect in the Gulf Coast League after the 2009 season, praising his control and his mid-90s fastball, and quoting another manager in the league as saying that his slider was a strikeout pitch.
Mendez did not build on that success in 2010, however. Starting off the year with Greenville in the low-A Sally League, Mendez was awful, going just 15 innings in 6 starts, walking 10, allowing 29 hits (including 5 home runs) and hitting 4 batters while striking out 10, resulting in an ugly 11.40 ERA. Boston demoted him to Lowell in the short-season A New York Penn League, and while there was some improvement, Mendez still walked 19 and allowed 5 homers in 33 innings, putting up a 4.36 ERA.
Mendez's stint with Lowell came to an end on July 31, 2010, when he was traded to Texas, along with Chris McGuinness, Michael Thomas, and a couple of sacks full of hundred dollar bills, for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Mendez was considered the prize of that package, a player who Boston wouldn't have parted with in such a deal a year before, but who the Rangers were buying low on after his 2010 struggles.
Mendez finished out the 2010 season with three starts for Spokane in the Northwest League, and then was sent back to the Sally League by Texas in 2011 to pitch for the club's low-A affiliate at Hickory. Mendez spent the year there, and had, on the surface, something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde season. While overall Mendez posted a respectable 3.31 ERA in 117 innings, striking out 130, walking 45, and allowing 7 home runs, he posted a 1.78 ERA in 25.1 April innings, and then a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings from July on. In between, however, Mendez put up a 3.81 ERA in May, followed by a gruesome 9.33 ERA in the month of June.
After the 2011 season, there was a huge spread in opinions about Mendez from various prognosticators...while we ranked him at #16, Baseball America has him even lower, at #19, and Jamey Newberg at #23. However, Jason Cole has Mendez at #7, Jonathan Mayo at #6, and Jason Parks at #12.
Mendez was added to the 40 man roster after the 2011 season, but has struggled to stay healthy. Mendez missed a month in the middle of the 2012 season with a muscle strain in his right forearm. He spent the bulk of the season with Myrtle Beach, where he put up a 5.14 ERA in 70 innings, starting 12 games and pitching in relief in 6 games, striking out 71 and walking 25 batters. However, he had more success when he worked out of the bullpen, allowing just 2 runs in 12.2 innings over his final 6 appearances for the Pelicans, all in relief, and earned a promotion to AA Frisco for the final month of the 2012 season. With the Roughriders, he allowed just 3 runs in 12.1 innings, striking out 9 and walking 4.
Mendez spent all of the 2013 season with the Roughriders, but injuries limited him to just 24.2 innings over 16 games. Mendez was solid in his performance with Frisco, allowing just 12 hits and 11 walks against 24 Ks, and putting up a 1.82 ERA, but the lack of innings is a hindrance to his development. A stress fracture in late May ended Mendez's season prematurely.
Mendez's calling card is his fastball, which is generally in the mid-90s, but which can touch the upper-90s at times. Mendez's slider is his best secondary pitch, while his changeup still lags well behind. At this point, Mendez's future is likely as a reliever, where he could probably bring his fastball in at 97 mph in short stints while using his slider as his second pitch.
Mendez will likely start the 2014 season back at Frisco, although given that Mendez is on his last option, he could start the year at Round Rock, given the limited amount of time the Rangers have remaining to evaluate him. Mendez has a promising arm, and seems like someone who will have a major league future as a reliever, but the injury issues have slowed his development to the point that he may run out of options before the Rangers feel comfortable using him in the majors. Mendez may end up, as a result, like Pedro Strop, a guy who the Rangers deal to another organization that can be more patient with him developing in the majors.