Yohander Mendez and Luis Ortiz are joining the Frisco RoughRiders rotation, according to a multitude of reports on social media, with Scott Lucas tweeting that Mendez will start Saturday and Ortiz will start on Monday, bookending Yu Darvish, who is making what is likely his last rehab start on Sunday for Frisco.
Mendez, 21, was one of the Rangers' big dollar J-2 signings from 2011, and was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason. He has excelled when he's been on the mound throughout his career, but has had issues staying healthy. Last year, however, he spent the season with Hickory, and put up a 2.44 ERA in 66.1 IP. Mendez started the 2016 season in High Desert, and in 33 IP over 7 starts, he has 45 Ks, 11 walks and just 2 home runs allowed, with a 2.45 ERA. Already on the 40 man roster and excelling in the Cal League, the Rangers apparently feel he's ready for the challenge of the Texas League. Mendez has a good fastball, a terrific changeup, and a curveball for his third pitch, and he gets good grades for having an advanced feel for pitching, despite his limited innings in his career.
Ortiz, 20, was the Rangers' first round pick in the 2013 draft. Like Mendez, Ortiz excelled at Hickory last year (though he spent some time on the d.l.), putting up a 1.80 ERA in 50 IP, with 46 Ks against 9 walks. Pitching for High Desert this year, Ortiz has a 2.60 ERA in 27.2 IP, with 28 Ks against 6 walks. Ortiz throws hard and is seen as having perhaps the highest ceiling of pitchers in the team's minor league system, but also has issues in regards to his weight that have raised concerns.
With Mendez and Ortiz joining the rotation, there's now a question as to who gets bumped from the Frisco rotation. Reed Garrett has been filling a rotation spot, but he's an organizational guy who likely will get moved to the bullpen or to another affiliate. The other four rotation members are Victor Payano, Sam Wolff, Frank Lopez and Connor Sadzeck. The Rangers could promote one of those four to Round Rock, or we could see someone -- perhaps Wolff -- get moved into a late reliever roles.