A struggling Round Rock Express rotation could get a boost in the closing weeks of the season from the Texas Rangers’ top pitching prospect.
Yohander Mendez, the 22-year-old lefty who made a cameo in Round Rock last August, is under consideration for a promotion from Double-A Frisco.
“There have been a lot of internal conversations about whether we want to move him up. We go back and forth on that one,” Paul Kruger, the Rangers’ assistant director of player development, told the American-Statesman.
“We’ve given him a lot of challenges, whether it’s establish his fastball or working to go deeper in games. All in all, we’re very happy with his progress.”
He went on the disabled list Thursday with neck stiffness, but Kruger said Saturday that it was a precautionary measure and Mendez could still see Round Rock this month.
A year ago Mendez was called up to the Express and dazzled with a 4-1 record and 0.57 ERA. The 6-foot-5-inch Venezuelan allowed just 12 hits in 31 innings. The Rangers then promoted him in September for two relief outings.
Mike Daly, a Rangers assistant general manager, told the Statesman in January that he expected Mendez to be on Round Rock’s opening day roster. But Mendez had a rough spring with nagging injuries and was assigned to Frisco.
Express fans shouldn’t expect to see many new faces over the last four weeks of the season. Frisco’s pitching is scuffling nearly as much as the staff in Round Rock, which is 13th in the Pacific Coast League with a 5.26 ERA.
No Roughrider is batting over .286, and the top power man is first baseman Eric Aguilera, a 27-year-old former 34th-round draft pick with a modest 12 homers and 43 RBIs.
Round Rock did land Willie Calhoun (24 homers, 69 RBIs, .294 average) from the Yu Darvish trade. The other players the Rangers acquired — shortstop Brendon Davis (nine homers, 43 RBIs, .238 average) and right-hander A.J. Alexy (2-6, 3.67, 86 strikeouts in 74 innings) — are at Single-A Hickory.
For results of Saturday night’s Express-Isotopes game, go to statesman.com.
EXPRESS: NEXT UP
Sunday: vs. Albuquerque, 6:05 p.m., Dell Diamond. Note: Fireworks show after the game.
Monday-Aug. 18: 12-game road trip to Colorado, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
Aug. 19-23: vs. Omaha, at Dell Diamond