Mendez was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday, Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News reports.
Mendez was well behind more established pitchers in Mike Minor and Bartolo Colon in the pecking order for Opening Day rotation spots, so his assignment to the minors isn't surprising. The left-hander represents one of the better pitching prospects in the Texas organization and was impressive while running up a 3.79 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 137.2 innings at Double-A Frisco last season, but unremarkable secondary offerings limit his upside to that of back-end rotation filler if he sticks as a starter in the long run.
Mendez tossed 4.2 innings in relief in Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Athletics, serving up two runs on five hits and two walks.
A September callup, Mendez ended up making seven appearances out of the Rangers' bullpen in the season's final month, turning in a 5.11 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 12.1 innings. The Rangers view the 22-year-old lefty as a starter in the long term, so he'll more than likely be assigned to Triple-A Round Rock to begin the 2018 campaign before perhaps getting a look in the big-league rotation later on in the season.
For the second straight season, the Rangers have made Mendez -- one of the organization's top pitching prospects -- a September callup, but he'll be ticketed for little more than mop-up duty as the team chases down a wild-card spot. Sunday's appearance marked his first of the season with the Rangers, and came when the team was already down 9-1. Mendez didn't make things any better for the Rangers, so his standing in the bullpen probably won't improve after the outing.
Mendez was recalled from Double-A Frisco on Monday.
Mendez will join the big club for the first time this season after posting a a 3.79 ERA and 124:43 K:BB through 137.2 innings with Frisco. The 22-year-old prospect will likely pitch in lower-leverage situations down the stretch as the Rangers look to build his major-league experience.
Mendez is on the 7-day DL with Double-A Frisco due to neck stiffness, but he could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Round Rock once he returns, Kevin Lyttle of the Austin American-Statesman reports.
He is reportedly just on the DL as a precaution, as the crux of the report is that Mendez is nearing a promotion to the Pacific Coast League. "We've given him a lot of challenges, whether it's establish his fastball or working to go deeper in games," Paul Kruger, the Rangers' assistant director of player development said. "All in all, we're very happy with his progress." Mendez already reached the majors for the first time in 2016 after spending 31.1 innings at Triple-A, but was sent back to Double-A at the start of this season with a list of things to work on. While his 3.86 ERA and 1.16 WHIP are solid ratios, his 106 strikeouts in 121.1 innings (21.5 percent strikeout rate) leave something to be desired from a pitcher with his experience in the upper levels. As a lefty with the potential for two plus pitches (fastball and changeup), Mendez still has the potential to eventually serve as a No. 3 starter, but it's hard to get too excited about the profile given his decline in strikeouts since reaching the upper levels of the Rangers' system.
|10/1/2017 vs Oakland|
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|Minor League Pitching Stats|
|2016||AFA-High Desert Maverick||4||1||2.45||7||7||0||0||0||33.0||21||9||9||2||0||11||45|
|2016||AAA-Round Rock Express||4||1||0.57||7||4||0||0||0||31.1||12||2||2||0||1||16||22|