Since beginning his collegiate career at Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the offense has come easy to infielder Nate Mondou. A two-time first-team all-conference player in his final two years in Winston-Salem, Mondou became a 13th-round selection of the Oakland A’s last June and went on to become a New York-Penn League All-Star last summer with Vermont.
The 22-year-old Mondou finished with a slash line of .298/.375/.364 in 60 games at the short-season level, striking out just 37 times and drawing 24 walks in 249 plate appearances.
The Lake Tapps, Washington, native has picked up right where he left off this spring. Earning a spot in the Beloit infield to open his first full professional season, Mondou has five hits in his first 11 at-bats (through Sunday). His ninth inning RBI triple on Saturday was the difference in a 7-6 victory at Cedar Rapids.
The fast start has been rewarding for Mondou, who said he put in a lot of work in the offseason preparing for 2017.
“The biggest thing for me was defense,” said Mondou, who is one of four infielders on the Snappers’ roster sharing time at three spots. “I spent the whole winter and early spring working really hard on my defense, knowing I’m going to be up the middle and fielding a lot of ground balls. I think that was my first step at taking the jump into full season.
“And then just being consistent offensively was important for me. I don’t want to have a rollercoaster year and want to remain steady. I’ve fixed a few things in my swing to be more line-drive consistent.”
Having played just one team thus far – Cedar Rapids – Mondou knows what’s on the horizon once more Midwest League clubs get scouting reports on him. That’s when the real challenge begins, as he tries to sustain the fast start.
“Seeing how long the season is and knowing we’ll play these teams so many times, they’re going to figure out ways to get you out,” he said. “Making adjustments at-bat to at-bat and game-to-game are going to be really important, especially at the plate. It’s the same thing on the defensive side, just knowing where those guys hit the ball and their tendencies, will make our job easier on defense.”
Nate Mondou Scouting Video
One of the standouts at a rising Wake Forest program for three years, Mondou, who batted .302 with 50 runs, 14 doubles, four home runs and 35 RBIs in 62 games as a college junior, feels his time there prepared him for the next step in his baseball career.
“The three years I was in the ACC was fantastic and we always had the top teams in the country,” Mondou said. “Having that preparation and knowing what it feels like to face those guys, day in and day out, is definitely going to help me.”
Having one year of eligibility remaining, Mondou also faced a big decision on whether to turn pro or return to a loaded Demon Deacons roster.
“It was really tough,” Mondou said of the process. “I know we were going to have a really good team at Wake Forest this year, which they’ve shown so far being ranked in the top-25 for the first time in a while. But when it came down to it, I thought it was the best decision for me and my baseball career getting into professional baseball. That’s what I wanted to do. The opportunity to play professional baseball isn’t always readily available and I wanted to take advantage of that.”
So far, it appears Mondou made the right call to become a professional. If he parlays his hot start into a solid first season, he could be on track for a return to his west coast roots with High-A Stockton in the California League.