This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #23, Evan Mendoza.
23. Evan Mendoza – 3B
Entering age-22 season
11th Round – 2017 Draft
State College wRC+: 191
Peoria wRC+: 90
|2017||21||-0.1||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–A||STL||59||259||236||43||80||20||4||4||36||3||2||18||48||.339||.388||.508||.896||120||6||2||1||2||1|
What I Like
Evan Mendoza absolutely destroyed the New York-Penn League after being drafted out of North Carolina State. In 41 games, he slashed .370/.431/.549 with three homers and 14 doubles. According to wRC+, he was nearly twice as valuable as the average player in the league.
As far as mechanics go, Mendoza looks quiet and the plate. He uses a simple stance that lacks pre-pitch movement and his load is smooth and easy. Both of those things allow him to keep his head still and see the ball deeper into the zone, which then allows him to identify breaking balls and lay off. The clip below is a good example.
Pull-happy hitters tend to fizzle out as they reach the upper levels of the minors, but Mendoza isn’t pull-happy. His spray chart broke down like this:
I’d be interested to see how much power Mendoza has to right field, but that data simply isn’t available to us for such a low-level minor leaguer. Regardless, the ability to use all parts of the field is impressive.
Mendoza is a good defender as well. Fangraph’s led of their scouting report by touting him as a “rangy a slick defensive third baseman” and even mentioned that he might get a shot at shortstop this season. If he tries short and is successful, Mendoza could become one of the fastest rising position players in the system.
What I Don’t Like
Statistically speaking, the .449 BABIP stands out. That’s a rate that obviously inflated his stats and is guaranteed to come down in 2018. It’s fair to question how much of the excitement surrounding Mendoza is, at the root level, based on batted ball luck and/or poor defense. He strikes out a little bit more than I’d prefer (18.1% at State College), but it’s not a terrible stat by any means.
Fangraphs’ scouting report mentioned that the ACC, where Mendoza played in college, is a superior league to the New York Penn League. Everyone applies that a little differently in their evaluation, so take it for what it’s worth. I’m not terribly worried about it because his mechanics are clean and he used the entire field, even at Peoria.
All in all, Mendoza hit better than expected based on his draft slot, and when paired with potentially plus defense, has the chance to become a well-rounded position-player prospect I’m not sure the organization has at the moment. Patrick Wisdom has power, Tommy Edman has good speed, and Edmundo Sosa can play defense. Mendoza mixes in a little bit of everything to his game, and that’s exciting. He needs to do it for one more season, though, before we know it’s for real and then we can get very, very excited.
Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and check out Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.