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Why Luis Mendoza Deserves Another Look: A Fan’s View
As Luis Mendoza was mowing down hitters for the Omaha Storm Chasers in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 2011, it would have been easy to point at his disastrous 2010 experiment with the Kansas City Royals (22.50 ERA in four appearances) and say he didn't deserve another shot in the big leagues, even though the 2011 PCL Pitcher of the Year posted a 2.18 ERA—the second lowest in the PCL since 1990.
The truth is, Mendoza has never been able to take advantage of his chances in the major leagues. In 38 appearances over five seasons with the Texas Rangers and the Royals, he has a 7.36 ERA.
He did start two games at the end of the 2011 season for Kansas City and he won both, posting an impressive 1.23 ERA. And he tossed two scoreless innings and picked up the win for the Royals in their Spring Training game on Sunday, March 4. But that isn't a big enough sample size to make a determination if he has turned things around.
By the end of Spring Training we'll have a better idea about where he stands, but one thing is certain—he's not the same pitcher.
In 2011, he found his curve ball and his confidence. I talked to him about both in a video interview I did with him during Omaha's playoff run (sorry about the audio quality, the wind was brutal that day). And Storm Chasers pitching coach Doug Henry completely restructured Mendoza's delivery.
"He was patient and did everything he could to help me succeed," Mendoza told the Kansas City Star in a March 3 article, referring to Henry. "We started from zero. He broke down my delivery and what pitches I was using. I changed my arm angle, and he got me to be more consistent.
"Right now, I'm more over the top. That helps all of my pitches to stay down. In past years, they would stay up and be flat. My sinker was side to side instead of being up and down."
Mendoza is out of options, so he can't easily return to Omaha. As a result, the Royals will give him a long, hard look this spring. And he deserves one.
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