Luis Mendoza sits at 12-1 on the year for Frisco
Frisco's Luis Mendoza comes armed with 12 victories, tied for most in the Texas League, and a gathering storm of confidence he hopes to continue through the remainder of the year. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at one of the organization's biggest surprises.
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When you look at Frisco pitcher Luis Mendoza’s splits, something particularly eye-popping stands out: His monthly ERA. Take a look for yourself.
Then, in July, a pristine 1.51. How is that possible?
“I’m working on recognizing swings and my two-seam fastball,” he explained after his most recent start. “I’ve also done a lot of work with my breaking pitches.”
But Mendoza has also been the beneficiary of some excellent run support from the RoughRiders. Through the first three months of the season, when his earned run average was at its highest, he went 8-0. Only in July, his best month so far, did he lose his first game. Recently, the righty saw a streak of six consecutive quality starts come to an end. But in his last seven starts he has allowed just 10 earned runs over 48.2 innings, racking up 31 strikeouts, and walking just 10 batters.
The 2006 season wasn't a kind one for the 23-year old Mendoza. As a member of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, he experienced some success before moving up a level to Portland. But after the jump to a more advanced level of minor league ball, he posted a 1-5 record and an ugly 6.38 ERA.
A July trade brought Mendoza to the Rangers organization for journeyman relief pitcher Bryan Corey, but his struggles persisted after joining Double-A Frisco. His ERA rose to over seven runs a game and opponents hit at a scorching .333 clip.
This year, a little hard work has enabled Mendoza to regain some of the consistency he experienced on the mound while still in the lower levels of the minors.
“I’ve been able to throw my slow stuff for strikes when I’m behind,” he elaborated. “I’ve also been trying to get ahead of the batter earlier in the count.”
Mendoza’s most recent start against Corpus Christi will probably go down as one of the choppiest in the month of July. Although the Texas League Mid-Season All-Star picked up the win, the opposition worked him for six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings and had plenty of ample opportunities to score. But to his credit, Mendoza continually went with his sinker to get out of trouble.
“I used it a lot,” he said of the pitch. “But I threw too many pitches on that night. There were a lot of foul balls, but I stayed after them was able to get a lot of groundball outs with that pitch.”
Earlier this season, Mendoza had also fashioned a slider to go along with his arsenal of breaking pitches and fastballs. But due to its ineffectiveness, and with a little constructive criticism from pitching coach Terry Clark, the focus has shifted to other areas of his game instead.
“He (Terry) is helping me a lot,” Mendoza said of Frisco’s pitching instructor. “He’s not the kind of guy who tries to push things on you. If you’re doing something wrong, he’ll tell you, but he just lets you do your thing on the mound.”
After the minor league season comes to an end, Mendoza, who will become a free agent, hopes to play Winter Ball in the Mexican League.
“It’s a great experience. You get to lots of big league players, Triple-A players, and guys from the Mexican League, so you’re definitely learning a lot.”
As for the rest of this season, all Luis Mendoza is concerned with is not letting up.
“I just want to keep this up and stay consistent with what I’ve been doing lately. Maybe I’ll get called up to Triple-A, or be a September call-up for the Rangers,” he added with an infectious grin. “But I don’t know. I just want to stay focused.”
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