Rangers Prospect Profile: Luis Mendoza

This scouting report of 23-year-old prospect Luis Mendoza originally ran on June 19, 2007. Mendoza will make his big league debut on Saturday night against the Oakland Athletics, as Kason Gabbard was scratched from his start with a blister.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Luis Mendoza
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: October 31, 1983
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 180
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

The Rangers acquired Luis Mendoza from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handed reliever Bryan Corey in July of 2006. Corey, a 32-year-old minor league journeyman, had been designated for assignment after posting a 2.60 ERA in 16 appearances with the Rangers.

A native of Veracruz, Mexico, Mendoza spent parts of five seasons in the Red Sox organization. The righty made his professional debut with the Rookie League GCL Red Sox in 2002. Mendoza posted a 4.21 ERA in 13 appearances, spanning 57.2 innings.

The 6-foot-3 hurler impressed in his first full season, as he had a 2.26 ERA in 13 appearances – 11 starts – as a 19-year-old at Single-A Augusta in 2003.

Mendoza made a smooth transition to the High-A Florida State League the next season, going 8-7 with a 3.74 earned run average in 25 starts. He wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher, however, as he fanned just 51 while walking 54 in 137 frames.

The right-hander's career had been fairly uneventful until a wild 2005 season.

Mendoza began the season with Wilmington, Boston's new High-A affiliate. Though he did not pitch well, going 4-9 with a 6.34 ERA in 119.1 innings, it is what happened in between that is interesting.

The San Diego Padres claimed Mendoza off waivers in June of 2005. After making just two starts with Lake Elsinore of the California League, the Padres designated Mendoza for assignment to clear room on their 40-man roster. The Red Sox then re-claimed the prospect and he finished out his season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Mendoza pitched extremely well while repeating in Wilmington in 2006. He had a 3.14 ERA in 63 innings, giving up 67 hits while walking just 14 and fanning 46. But the native of Mexico struggled to handle a promotion to Double-A, as he was 1-5 with a 6.38 earned run average in nine starts.

The Red Sox later designated Mendoza for assignment, putting him back on the waiver wires. The Rangers then swapped him for the also recently designated Bryan Corey.

Mendoza was assigned to Double-A Frisco, where he continued his struggles. He had a 7.75 ERA over seven starts with the RoughRiders.

The 23-year-old is currently repeating the Texas League, as he has pitched his entire 2007 season with the RoughRiders. Though he has a solid 7-0 record in 13 appearances, his ERA stands at 5.51. Mendoza has earned a reputation for being extremely hit-or-miss. The righty seems just as likely to give up eight runs in three innings as he is to throw seven scoreless frames.

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.

Mendoza's best pitch is a low-90's fastball that typically sits around 91 MPH, topping out at 93. He features both the two-seam and four-seam varieties, but seems to prefer the two-seamer. The right-hander has average command of his curveball and changeup, though his change may be more advanced. Mendoza just recently began throwing a slider, which is still a work in progress, to say the least. The slider ranges anywhere between 83-85 miles per hour.

Projection: When Mendoza is at his best, there is little doubt he could pitch in the Major Leagues. However, consistency is the key for him. Mendoza has a solid fastball, but because his secondary pitches aren't extremely advanced, he likely profiles as a middle reliever at the next level.

ETA: 2008.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2002 GCL Red Sox (RK) 3-4 57.2 76 8 21 4.21
2003 GCL Red Sox (RK) 0-0 5.0 4 0 3 0.00
Augusta (A) 3-3 59.2 46 14 29 2.26
2004 Sarasota (A+) 8-7 137.0 133 54 51 3.74
2005 Lake Elsinore (A+) 0-1 10.2 18 4 3 9.28
Wilmington (A+) 4-9 119.1 145 36 60 6.34
2006 Wilmington (A+) 5-4 63.0 67 14 46 3.14
Portland (AA) 1-5 48.0 73 14 29 6.38
Frisco (AA) 2-4 38.1 55 11 21 7.75
2007 Frisco (AA) 7-0 65.1 67 28 37 5.51

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