For Drew Mendoza, playing for a team in the World Series has become the norm. In his three seasons at Florida State, Mendoza and his teammates made it to two College World Series. In June, he was drafted in the 3rd round by the eventual World Series champs, the Washington Nationals. Coming from a culture of winning, Mendoza should feel immediately at home in his new surroundings.
The 22-year-old was drafted 94th overall by the Nats, and while he predominantly played third base in college, he has begun the shift to first base. Mendoza is a big, athletic player at 6’5″ and 230 pounds. He is a solid enough athlete to play at third, but the Nationals believe that his future is at first. His calling card, though, is his ability to hit. He has a short, compact, lefty swing that gets to the ball quick. Mendoza’s above-average power does not equate to more strikeouts as many power hitters now pile up. He has an exceptional knowledge of the strike zone and can spray the ball to all parts of the park (37.9 Pull%, 21.4 Cent%, and 40.7 Oppo%).
Updated video and scouting report on #Nationals third-rounder Drew Mendoza. Fairly high-floor college corner bat w/ polished approach and LH power potential. High offensive bar to clear as a (likely) 1B-only profile. #OnePursuit
— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) July 18, 2019
Florida State’s season ended at the College World Series on June 19th, and a mere 12 days later, Mendoza made his professional debut on July 1st for the Hagerstown Suns (low A). Since he was able to sign and report quickly, he was able to play in 55 games and make 239 plate appearances. In those games, he was able to use that athleticism to adjust swiftly and play considerably well at first base. His advanced approach at the plate was also on display, as his BB% was at 14.2%. Even though his K% hovered around 24%, his ability to get on base and higher walk percentage help reduce the effects of the strikeouts. His OBP of .377 was outstanding, and his wOBA of .358 was well above average. Mendoza’s power stats (.119 ISO) were below average, but National scouts feel that there is untapped power, and the move to first base may allow him to focus more on his hitting. Generally, college hitters are more advanced than their prep counterparts early on in their pro careers. Mendoza looks polished at the plate and is a physical presence when at the plate.
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 4, 2019
Most draftees don’t get that much experience right after they are chosen, and the jump start on his pro career will serve him well moving into 2020. I fully anticipate Mendoza will start the year with the newly relocated Fredericksburg Nationals (formerly the Potomac Nationals). I think Mendoza has the potential to move rather quickly through the system as long as his hitting continues to progress, and the switch to first base continues to go well. In the Nationals system, there are no significant roadblocks for Mendoza at first base. The club recently declined their option on Ryan Zimmerman, so the first base job is open. Could Mendoza be a late-season call-up? In a system void of many position prospects who could make an impact, I think Mendoza could be a solid contributor at first base for the Nationals.