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June 24, 2010 at 4:10 PM

The Book: Roman Mendez

RHP Roman Mendez
Date: June 23, 2010
Team: Lowell Spinners

Outing: 5 innings, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk. 62 Pitches

Fastball: Mendez possesses a high-octane fastball with plus-plus velocity and shows very easy effort in generating his velocity, with good torque and arm extension out of his high 3/4 arm slot. Sitting 94-96 MPH, Mendez can operate on both sides of the plate with the pitch and exhibits consistent stretches of good command with the offering. When he reaches back and wants to grab more, his fastball can operate in the 97-98 MPH range, with a peak velocity of 99 MPH. Because of his relatively easy and fluid delivery, Mendez’s heater jumps at hitters and has some hop to it at the very end, exploding out of his hand and onto batters very quickly to produce many late, velocity-induced swings against it. However, his fastball approaches home plate on a consistent plane and shows very little horizontal movement and deception to the eye. When opposing hitters can time the pitch, they are likely to produce solid contact, as Mendez supplies a great deal of power due to his high velocity. On a couple of occasions in his outing against Connecticut, batters were able to put a charge into 97 MPH fastballs, with one instance coming in a two-strike count when center fielder Jeff Rowland put too good of a swing on it for a lineout to center field.

Secondary Offerings: Mendez uses an 82-85 MPH slider with tight rotation and sharper break to get hitters to chase out of the strike zone. The pitch shows excellent potential to evolve into an above-average pitch at the major league level as he continues to polish off consistently generating hard snap and finishing better out of his delivery with the offering. His good sliders dart out of the strike zone towards the left-handed batter’s box and tend to come on the upper end of his velocity range. Mendez’s slider can lack the last instance of finish at times and these offerings hang a bit in the last portion of their approach to home plate, allowing hitters to get a piece of the pitch. While he was not hurt with his slider in the outing, more advanced hitters will be better at getting the bat to the ball and at least spoiling the pitch. Polishing off his finish for it to consistently break hard out of the strike zone will push his slider towards a true wipeout pitch. Mendez also features a below-average 88-91 MPH changeup, with action similar to the bottom falling out of a split-fingered fastball. While his feel for his changeup has improved since spring training, there is a lot of work to go for it to become a legit third pitch in his arsenal. He could stand to improve the arm action he produces to create more separation from his fastball.

Take: With an extremely live arm and secondary stuff with good potential, Mendez is a very intriguing arm coming up the ranks of the Red Sox system and one that can gain a lot of steam as he continues to make development strides. His fluid, balanced, and easy delivery bodes well for him pushing his command to another level. Mendez can battle instances where he over-throws and loses the placement of his fastball, allowing hitters to sit on it and gear up too much for his heater. When throwing free and loose, he is able to mix up his pitch patterns and use his slider to compliment his fastball very nicely, forcing batters to chase out of the strike zone or be way out in front as they try to protect against his high velocity. The future development of his changeup clouds his ultimate projection and offers two paths. If he can hone the feel of his changeup and create more separation with the pitch to push it to a viable third offering, Mendez should continue to trend as a starting pitcher when he reaches the upper levels of the Red Sox organization and into the major league level. Even with his overpowering velocity, he very well may need to develop a 2-seam or cutter to offer more movement to the eyes of hitters multiple times through the lineup. On the other hand, if Mendez’s changeup continues to act more like a fastball with something taken off of it, a future late-inning bullpen role will most likely be his ultimate path. Not yet 20 years of age and just starting to begin the progression of polishing off his arsenal, there is a lot of development ahead of Mendez, but he can quickly become an arm to keep a very close watch on.