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40-Man Newcomers

There's 4 new fellas clogging up the all-important 40-man roster. Here's a bit about each.

I love this pic of The Big Chill.
I love this pic of The Big Chill.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Yohander Mendez:

Texas gave the Venezuelan a lot of dough ($1.5mil) and there's a lot to dream on with the lefty. Definitely a starter, Yo has advanced feel for 3 offerings and knows how to pitch. He's shaped like a greyhound, so stamina and injury will always be a bit of a concern, but the kid is 20 years old, left handed and commands a really good CH. Certainly the biggest surprise out of the guys Texas added today, the bottom line is that Yo has too much upside to dangle in the draft. Someone with deep knowledge of Texas' system, and the ability to stash him on the DL or in the MLB pen, could've stolen a potential cost controlled, baby left-handed starting pitcher. I imagine this means he could be destined for a slightly more aggressive assignment for 2016 so maybe he starts the season in Frisco's rotation. Fresh off holding his own in 4 starts for big time Venezuelan Winter League team, Magallanes, Yo could be ready for the jump to AA. Truth is, there's not a lot of projection left for him. He's gonna be a guy with a low-90s heater, quality bender he can throw for strikes, and a CH that twists away from righties. He's got to get reps against higher quality hitters and refine his mechanics a bit, but keeping his shoulder healthy will be the biggest objective for Yo over the next couple of seasons. Here's the 20 year-old dealing in front of about 20,000 fans a few weeks ago in Venezuela:

Connor Sadzeck:

I'm a big fan of the big fella from Chicago. Coming off Tommy John, he started lighting up radar guns in High Desert and Frisco in 2015, but really jumped up on the scene in the Arizona Fall League. He'll hit 100 and has a quality upper-70s CB that comes out of his hand nearly identically to the fastball. He dabbles with a 2-seamer and a CH and at 6'6" 240lbs, he's quite the mound presence. At that size, he sometimes struggles to repeat his mechanics and anytime you have hands the size of oven mitts, throwing a "feel pitch" like a CH can be a task. I've seen guys time up the FB the second time through, but the first time they see it, it's just a white pellet screaming by 'em before they realize it left his hand. With the vaunted 20mph velo separation between the CB and the FB, he's capable of jumping into the MLB 'pen right now. That jump won't happen and he'll likely continue as a starter to refine his mechanics, build up his arm strength, and further develop his repertoire but if at anytime, the big club needs him and his bonafide rocket launcher, he's now waiting on the 40-man. Here's a screen shot I took while Sadz was pitching in the AFL last week.


Jose Leclerc:

Converted to a starter last year, and I was initially cool on the idea. Having watched him start all season in Frisco, I'm now luke warm on the idea. Not a big dude, but far more stout than Yohander, Jose is strong enough to start, I'm just not sure he has the FB command. Having said that, I'm fully on board with extending the experiment in 2016. Last year was his first as a starter and he flew by his previous high in innings pitched. Jose still has that weird cut-CH that no one has ever seen before, but sometimes as he tired last year it just flattened out and looked like a crappy SL. The FB routinely sat 93-95 for 5 innings and in previous runs out of the 'pen he could easily dial up consistent 96s and 97s. The CH gets a lot of the buzz because it's really unique, but I like the CB quite a bit more. Like Sadzeck, Jose has a massive velo separation as the CB usually rolls in around 73-75 (though I've seen a couple in the upper-60s too) with good drop. It'll get a bit loopy at times, but on the heels of the FB, guys had a hard time keeping their hands back. He's not too small to start. He's 6'1" and listed at 165, but I'd guess he's at least 20lbs heavier than that. His older brother Anyelo, is also a hurler in the Rangers system, but kid bro has the pitching mojo in the Leclerc family.

Nomar Mazara:

Frankly, this shocked me. The Big Chill lacks the prototypical size and power potential you look for in a big league corner outfielder. Not to mention, with a 70 grade arm, it's not like he's going to be a threat to throw out baserunners. Having spent 2015 learning to play LF as well as his usual RF, the club is desperate to simply find a place for the guy to stick. Given the volatility of his personality swings, and his advanced age, I'm really really surprised Texas made this move. Here's some video of a blind squirrel finding a nut and poking a ball over the fence, the opposite way. Whatever man.

So there you have it. Four baseball players transitioning from "dude" to major leaguers. Jumping onto the 40-man means more than just ensuring you are paid $41K for the upcoming season (though that is awesome!). It means without notice, the big club can request your services and (for the moment, at least)  your days of carrying your own gear, staying in crappy motels, and riding buses are over. Not to mention that whole fulfilling a lifelong dream thing. Being on the 40-man isn't the altar, but the tuxes are rented, the church is reserved, and the deposits are put down. Congrats to these four dudes. And how many more days until pitchers and catchers report again?

As Always, Enjoy Baseball! Love Ya!