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Viva El Birdos Cardinals 2018 Prospect Rankings: #21 Evan Mendoza

Mendoza did nothing but hit after debuting last season

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Lexington Regional - Indiana v North Carolina State Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE

#21: Evan Mendoza, 3B

6’2”, 200 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 28 June 1996; Drafted Rd 11 2017

Level(s) in 2017: State College (SS+), Peoria (Low A)

Notable Numbers: 182 PA, .370/.431/.549, 8.8% BB, 18.1% K, .449 BABIP

So, what’s so great about this guy?

One of the top performers in the system from the most recent 2017 draft class, Mendoza hit the ground running right off the bat, and never really looked back.

The Cards snagged Mendoza in the eleventh round this summer, long past when his talent probably would have dictated he go, and it’s honestly a little bit of a mystery why that would be to me. Most times, when you look at a player whose draft stock falls somewhat, there’s an easy answer. A bad draft year campaign, or the threat of not signing, or a nagging physical issue that seems to hang over the player’s head. In the case of Mendoza, though, I’d be lying if I told you I understood how and why he lasted until the eleventh for the Cardinals to pull. I don’t really get it. I’m glad he did, though.

Judging by Mendoza’s pro debut, one might think he’s best known for his offensive abilities, but it’s actually the opposite. He’s been well regarded as a defender at the hot corner throughout his college career, while the bat has been seen as being on the light side. It’s tough to square that perception with the way Mendoza hit in his first taste of pro ball, though.

Mendoza’s best tool offensively is an innate ability to make solid contact, a feel for the barrel of the bat that served him extraordinarily well after being drafted. He doesn’t have a ton of loft in his swing, but he’s capable of spraying line drives to all fields. He has average speed, maybe a touch better. The offensive profile isn’t that of unlimited ceiling, but there’s a touch of power, a good contact rate, and a solid understanding of the strike zone. He knows what pitchers are trying to do to get him out, and for the most part he has the tools to deal with it.

There’s no question regarding Mendoza’s glovework at third base; he has great feet, soft, reliable hands, and an arm strong enough to make any throw required from the position. He’s probably the most solid defender at third in the system right now, in fact. Donivan Williams has the louder defensive tools, but Mendoza is a far more polished glove at the hot corner.

The one real downside with Mendoza is pretty modest power, which does cut his ceiling down a bit. Even with a livelier ball in the big leagues, it’s hard to envision a season in which the former NC State standout ever hits more than 20 homers, and even that number doesn’t feel like the easiest of goals. Still, a 55 glove at third base with plus contact abilities, above-average bat control, good command of the strike zone, and even 45-grade power makes for an extremely attractive overall package.

If he’s good, it will look like: At the time of the draft, I comped Mendoza to someone like Martin Prado, and I see no real reason to go away from that now. He has the same kind of well-rounded, contact-based offensive game as Prado, and a similarly solid, if not spectacular, glove at third base.