Originally signed by the Colorado Rockies as an amateur free agent in the spring of 2016, Shael Mendoza is a Dominican-born infielder about to turn 21 years old (DOB: October 15, 1996) after having wrapped his second professional season (and first stateside). After slashing .272/.300/.339/.639 over 224 at-bats with the DSL Rockies in 2016, the big league club opted to send Mendoza to rookie-level Grand Junction this summer, and it proved to be the right call. Over 231 at-bats across 55 games in Grand Junction, the middle infield prospect slashed .364/.412/.519/.931, and put up 13 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 25 stolen bases, and 20 walks (against 38 strikeouts). Along the way, Mendoza earned both midseason and postseason All-Star nods in the Pioneer League.

A very good athlete with projectable size and some raw strength (listed at 6’0″, 165 lbs., Mendoza is both taller and thicker in person), the infielder has interesting utility potential with above-average athleticism in the field and a promising approach at the plate that could benefit the Colorado Rockies at the big league level one day. Nick Stephens and I combined to see him several times throughout the summer in the Pioneer League; below, you’ll find our full Shael Mendoza scouting report, including game video, tool grades, future projection notes, and more.




Shael Mendoza — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: July 3; July 30; August 1; September 3-5

TOOL (FV)
NOTES & COMMENTS
Hit (55)
Wide set, slightly open in stance; closes off to being online in stride. Above-average bat speed with some ability to manipulate the barrel. Widens out, drops down considerably with much smaller toe tap in two strike situations. Predominantly pull approach right now with enough bat speed to drop the bat head and get around on pitches down and in; can go up the middle and the other way to left-center field at times — swing looks great doing it — but not a consistent part of his day-to-day approach quite yet. Gets out of the box very quickly, but doesn’t typically sacrifice leverage to turn into a slap-and-run hitter. Will leak out on his front foot at times. Loves to swing down and in to pull, and so he struggles to lay off breaking balls buried there on his back foot, though Mendoza has enough bat speed to adjust late when he does recognize off-speed. Potential to over-achieve and hit for some average, but moderate swing and miss and an unrefined right field approach may limit him offensively barring a significant growth in approach.

Power (35)
Mendoza has modest right-center-field gap power that’ll play up thanks to foot speed. Physically strong and has the ability to muscle up a few balls for over-the-fence pop, but not enough to make that his full-time approach without seeing a marked decline in hit tool. Would love to see him go to the left-center gap more often; there are some line drive doubles to be had there with his bat speed and hand/wrist strength, but he hasn’t yet shown consistent ability to do that. Realistic to expect maybe 8-10 homers in an everyday role at the big league level, plus decent double and triple numbers aided by speed. Ultimately, will do himself better to focus on hitting to all fields rather than specifically seeking to develop over-the-fence power.

Glove (50)
Soft hands with very good anticipation, both of which will continue to develop him into at least an average defender. Tendency to lose focus and kick routine plays every now and again, but maturity and more innings will help iron out reliability, especially on routine plays where he almost seems to go on auto-pilot. Exceptional footwork around second base turning double plays in high traffic; soft, quick hands with feel for the ball and anticipation for the runner. On ground balls, he’s reliable to both his forehand and backhand, especially at second base. Moves back decently well on shallow outfield pop-ups.

Arm (50)
Average carry on throws, but lacks above-average power and velocity behind them, especially off his back foot or from his backhand. Quick and efficient throwing mechanics, but occasionally inconsistent with accuracy; will get lazy and drop his elbow. Not enough arm strength to play shortstop in an everyday role, but he can fill in satisfactorily there and across the infield in short bursts; second base is his ideal fit from arm strength and accuracy perspective. Very good footwork and a solid lower half in both fielding and throwing position help prop up his arm; Mendoza is at his best and most accurate when he’s balanced; can get sloppy when throwing on the run.

Speed (60)
4.09 – 4.13 down to first base from LHH batter’s box. Quick enough first step, and very good top speed, great strides with length when he gets going. Very good footwork defensively. Not only quick on his feet with above-average reactions, but gains a lot of ground in fielding and throwing, making some plays look easier than they are thanks to efficient and advanced footwork. Still learning how to steal bases; plus speed has netted him 50 total swipes in two years, but nuances of truly reading a pitcher must still be learned. When it’s all said and done, he’ll be an above-average base stealing threat in an organization that has developed quite a few of them in the minors over the last several years.

Intangibles
Plays much bigger than his 6’0″, 165-lb. frame. Good musculature on upper and lower halves, with some room left to grow and build out his stature over the next couple years. Advanced offensively and clearly takes an approach, suggesting some baseball IQ already at play, but must expand approach to more consistently use the whole field. Above average barrel skills and already showing he can manipulate the barrel somewhat, though not likely for future power. Must lock down reliability on routine plays defensively; likely more a mental/repetition issue than it is a physical problem to correct, and maybe that’s to be expected for a guy at his age and level, but ironing out correctable flaws will aid Mendoza’s transition to full-season ball. All in all, alongside fellow Grand Junction teammate Javier Guevara, Shael Mendoza is the most impressive prospect I saw this year in Grand Junction and could overachieve his way into being a fringe infield prospect over the next year or two.




Shael Mendoza Scouting Report — 2017 Game Video





Shael Mendoza Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

It’s a feather in his cap that Shael Mendoza had such a resoundingly successful first summer stateside at 20 years old; of course, it’s equally important to acknowledge he did so in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pioneer League along with a good amount of teammates who put up somewhat inflated offensive numbers at altitude. Accounting for whatever degree of that you believe is environment-driven, though, you’d do well to still acknowledge that the Colorado Rockies have an under-the-radar fringe prospect in Mendoza, and above-average athleticism with some hit-for-average ability could propel him quicker than most at this juncture realize. Unsure what to expect before seeing him, I liked Mendoza more than anyone else I saw during my time in Grand Junction save equally impressive and equally underrated teammate Javier Guevara; and as I counseled with Guevara, you’d do well to keep Mendoza in the back of your mind as a future prospect with some legitimate tools upon which to build. There’s no question in my mind he has the foundation and track record to reach Low-A Asheville in 2018, and while there’s no such thing as a second base prospect, Shael Mendoza will do well to play there in an everyday role and iron out much-needed defensive consistency while developing the nuances of his plus speed and finding gap-to-gap consistency with his promising bat.

shael mendoza scouting report colorado rockies baseball 2




Shael Mendoza Scouting Report — Future Projection

Whatever future Shael Mendoza may have in this game will depend largely on his defensive consistency and flexibility to work across the diamond as needed, and so it’s imperative he develops consistency with his glove and throwing arm to be nearly automatic in the field. His plus speed will help there and on the bases, and Mendoza’s promising hit tool will push his ceiling from productive bench guy to platoon infielder or even a potential starter depending on how well his approach matures against better pitching. Above all, though, this guy is a very good athlete with some raw tools that shouldn’t be overlooked; virtually unknown upon his signing two years ago, the Colorado Rockies may have in Shael Mendoza a future fringe prospect with the ability come off the bench with regularity at the big league level in a few years’ time.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Likely future big league bench role (platoon/utility infielder), but still time to out-play that projection and hit his ceiling — a second-division starter (47.5)

MLB ETA: 2021




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