Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Selections from BA piece on Mendonca


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Mendonca approached the Rangers player development staff and the Spokane coaching staff about making adjustments to his offensive game, and club officials were impressed by his desire to learn.

"For the first 75-100 at-bats we leave the player alone unless he comes to us for (help)," Rangers farm director Scott Servais said. "Tommy did that. He came to us. About 50 to 60 at-bats in (at Spokane) he said, 'I'm open. What do I need to do to get better?' He bought into our program. Ultimately, they have to want to learn before they key in."

The Rangers started working on Mendonca's swing. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound third baseman's calling card has always been his plus power, but the fundamentals of his swing concerned scouts before the draft.

"He's made good adjustments. He was very open to try new things," Servais said. "We have addressed the swing path issues. We have gotten him to keep the path of his bat to stay in the zone longer . . . It's really started paying off recently."

Mendonca's improvement has been as sudden as his early struggles. His batting average skyrocketed 108 points and he swatted six more home runs, including three in an early-August game at Salem-Keizer.

"I would do a lot of bad things (with my swing) before I made adjustments. I had the concept right but with a bad swing," said Mendonca, who was hitting .304/.351/.528 in 161 at-bats. "If I do it right it works now. I realize right from wrong now. I wasn't afraid to admit that I needed help when I needed it. It's a good thing to use your resources."

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Mendonca's defense is one aspect of the third baseman's game that the Rangers have been pleased with from the start.

"Playing defense hasn't been that hard of a transition," Mendonca said. "Defense is one of my strong points. Defense comes easy to me. I feel comfortable with my defense. In my mind, defense is still defense."

The Rangers and Mendonca agree that there are still adjustments to be made. Strikeouts are still an area of concern. He has continued to strike out at a healthy clip since his average began to rise and had 60 strikeouts.

"It's definitely something we are going to address," Servais said. "There are definitely more things we want to adjust to help his swing path. We've got to cut down the (strikeout) rate. There's no doubt about that."



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