Round Two, Pick 56: Drew Mendoza, 3B, Florida State University
With the Angels having an influx of outfield prospects and going after a top pitcher in round one, improving their infield becomes a noticeable need for the Halos. Even with Taylor Ward seemingly the long-term answer at third base, the Angels can’t bank the future of the position on a hot Spring Training.
That’s where Drew Mendoza comes into play. The junior out of FSU has been on the MLB radar for years, as he was drafted in the 36th round in 2016 by the Detroit Tigers. He would have been selected much higher if not for him being set on playing in college, but that decision may just be a blessing for the Angels.
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In his first two seasons at Florida State, Mendoza showed a jump from a solid freshman to a star sophomore, and has saved his best for his junior season. Standing at 6’5” and 225 pounds, Mendoza has an impressive build Billy Eppler has often targeted since taking over in Anaheim. He provides a left-handed bat with as much raw power as anyone in this draft class, just look at this absolute bomb he hit over the weekend.
Mendoza, as a hitter, reminds me a lot of Paul Goldschmidt. The downward swing and amount of time spent in the strike zone is eerily similar, and that bodes well for Mendoza and whoever drafts him. His power is still mostly raw, but the Angels have proven with players such as Matt Thais that they have the right coaches to turn raw power into legitimate power.
Mendoza may have already began that process of becoming a more mature hitter. After two seasons of high strikeouts and a low amount of walks, Mendoza has completely flipped that narrative through the first 16 games of the Seminoles’ season. While he is striking out at a relatively high clip at 23.86%, his walk percentage has taken a huge jump in his third year.
After a 16.20% mark his sophomore year, Mendoza is now walking in 27.27% (!!) of his at bats. Usually when a hitter isn’t putting a ball in play more than 50% of the time, that’s a discouraging thing. However, with a walk percentage like Mendoza’s, you’ll take that everyday.
The improved walk rates show he has a greater vision now than in past seasons, and if he can now just improve his discipline as a hitter and limit the strike outs, Mendoza has an All Star caliber future ahead of him.