Scouting Rangers Prospect #23: Roman Mendez

Right-hander Roman Mendez has plenty of development ahead of him, but he has a big-time fastball and the makings of a plus breaking ball. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 20-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Roman Mendez
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: July 25, 1990
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 191
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2010 trade from Boston with 1B Chris McGuiness and RHP Michael Thomas for C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Pitcher Roman Mendez joined the professional ranks during the summer of 2007, when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as a 16-year-old for a reported $125,000.

Mendez made his official debut in '08, pitching in his native country with the Dominican Summer League Red Sox. His early results were positive, as he posted a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings, yielding 43 hits and striking out 46.

The right-hander progressed to the States the following season. After beginning the '09 campaign in extended spring training, Mendez pitched in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where his ERA dipped to 1.99 and he fanned 47 while walking only eight in 49.2 innings.

Entering the 2010 season, the Red Sox felt Mendez's overpowering stuff and strong rookie ball results warranted a direct assignment to Single-A Greenville out of camp. But Mendez was hit hard, surrendering 29 hits (including five homers) and 10 walks over just 15 innings. And after six starts, he was sent back to extended spring training.

Mendez returned to official game action when the short-season slate began, getting an assignment to Lowell. In eight starts with the Spinners, the prospect logged a 4.36 ERA over 33 innings. He yielded 31 hits, walked 19, and struck out 35.

Then, in a surprising trade-deadline move, Mendez was dealt to the Texas Rangers as part of a three-prospect package in exchange for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Rangers sent Mendez to the same level––short-season Spokane of the Northwest League. While Mendez fanned 13 and walked just three in 11.2 innings with the Indians, a minor injury caused the club to shut him down after only three starts. He returned to the mound during Fall Instructional League.

With a good pitcher's frame that's listed at 6-foot-2, 191-pounds, Mendez has a developing body that still has room to add some bulk. His strong and quick arm produces dominant raw velocity, and his body should ultimately provide some durability.

Also See: Rangers acquire prospects for Saltalamacchia (August 1, 2010)
Top Prospects, Top Tools (January 14, 2011)

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball: Athletic and strong with a loose arm, Mendez features plus-plus velocity in a fastball that sits between 94-97 mph with some explosive late life; he can top out at 98-99 mph on occasion. While his control has shown improvement, Mendez remains wild within the strike zone and his command is currently below average. But he repeats his delivery well for his age and––given his excellent athleticism––he should ultimately show at least fringe-average command of his fastball, if not better.

Other Pitches: Mendez's best secondary offering is a mature slider that flashes legitimate wipeout potential. When he stays on top of the breaking ball, it's a plus pitch with two-plane action at 84-87 mph. The pitch can flatten out now and then, as he has a tendency to overthrow it in the upper-80s. Although his changeup has good splitter-like movement with late drop, his arm action is inconsistent and he struggles to throw it for strikes; many scouts are skeptical that he'll ever be able to show much command with it and give the pitch a fringy ceiling.

Projection: Mendez is more of a ‘thrower' than a ‘pitcher' at this point, and his command of all three offerings has a ways to go. But he's a high-ceiling talent that shows the potential for two elite pitches. The physically gifted prospect has the perfect-world upside of a number two starter if his command takes off and he's able to harness the changeup. And if he eventually winds up in the bullpen, his ability to miss bats with a hard fastball-slider combination gives him closer potential.

2011 Outlook: After opening last season at Single-A Greenville in the Red Sox system, Mendez was knocked around and sent back to extended spring training after only six starts. He later resurfaced with short-season Lowell and made three starts with Spokane after the trade to Texas. The 20-year-old should get his second crack at full-season ball this year, likely beginning the season in the Single-A Hickory rotation.

ETA: 2014.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2008 DSL Red Sox (DSL) 3-1 51.0 43 16 46 2.65
2009 GCL Red Sox (RK) 2-3 49.2 33 8 47 1.99
2010 Lowell (SSA) 2-3 33.0 31 19 35 4.36
Spokane (SSA) 1-1 11.2 19 3 13 2.31
Greenville (A) 0-2 15.0 29 10 18 11.40

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