SDI Prospect Rankings – #7 Yohander Mendez

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**Featured Image courtesy of Scott Lucas. See his picture website here**

6′-4″ southpaw Yohander Mendez brings our list to number seven. A 21-year-old out of Venezuela, Mendez started to pick up some steam as a legitimate prospect in the 2015 season.

Mendez is a very advanced pitcher for his age. The control/command profile suggests that of a pitcher much further along the system, with the chance to develop into a real plus weapon for him as he develops. Normally the last pitch to develop for pitchers, the skinny lefty’s changeup is his best pitch. Given his control over the pitch along with the deception and bite it has, the change may play at plus currently.

Sitting at 89-91 mph with notable arm-side run, his fastball projects as average. However, as he adds more muscle to his stature it is possible added velocity comes as well. If Mendez wants to stick as a starter, the pitch that really needs to come along is his slider. With an average slider Mendez profiles as a mid-rotation starter, but as of now the pitch lacks consistent bite and presents as more of a slurve than a true slide piece.

Video courtesy of Chris Blessing

2015 was a big year for the Rangers farmhand, as he posted a 2.44 ERA in a career high 66.1 innings, striking out >10 per nine while walking only two (74:15 ratio). Mendez allowed only two home runs on the season, a very good mark even in the pitcher friendly South Atlantic League. Shown below (thanks to MLBfarm.com), the batted ball numbers were very impressive as Mendez allowed line drives on a minuscule 14% of balls put in play and induced grounders on more than half.

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Maybe the most important part of the 2015 season, however, was that Mendez stayed healthy. In each of the two prior seasons the 2011 signee had battled problems with his throwing shoulder. Not only remaining healthy, but doing so with a heavier workload than he had previously shouldered is a positive sign.

The Rangers showed very clearly what they think of Yohander Mendez when they decided to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and put him on the 40 man this off-season. It’s not all too common to see a 21 year old pitcher without action above Low-A ball see that treatment. This also may lead to Mendez being fast tracked a bit with his options going off the board starting in 2016. With his advanced control and changeup, he may be able to handle a quick push up the system. Likely, Mendez will start the year in High-A High Desert although a Frisco assignment would come as no shock given the state of the California League and High Desert in particular.

If things click right for the 2015 SAL All-Star, he will be a mid rotation starter in Arlington. If not, the plus changeup and control/command likely still allow him some form of big league career in the bullpen.

Grant Schiller
Grant is currently a student at the University of North Texas and long-term hopes to get into the world of scouting. He will spend many nights over the summer checking out the prospects around the Texas League in Frisco. When not around baseball, Grant will probably be dropping threes at the rec with no remorse.

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