Age: 22 Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6’ 2” Weight: 190 lb.
Drafted out of Texas A&M University in the 4th Round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft
Daniel Mengden was supposed to be the supplementary piece in terms of this trade. Not many will take a second look at this guy – due to Jacob Nottingham – but he does bring a solid set of skills to the table. The primary reason many scouts overlook him is because he doesn’t posses a plus pitch. However, over his first two seasons in professional ball, he has proved he possesses other abilities that can contribute to a winning equation. Sounds like an Oakland Athletic already so here’s a look at him.
Being fairly pro-ready coming out of a four-year university (Texas A&M), he accelerated through rookie ball and on to the High-A Lancaster JetHawks in the California League. Much like Nottingham, he will move over to the Stockton Ports and have the pressure to perform.
Although he sustained a back injury in 2014 that only allowed him to throw 11.0 innings while in rookie ball and Low-A, he certainly made up for it once moving to the Astros Single-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Through 38.2 innings, Mengden maintained a 1.16 ERA over eight appearances (six starts) with 36 strikeouts and only walking eight. The most impressive part may have been the fact he only surrendered one home run over his eight starts.
Mengden’s performance earned him a midseason call up to the California League, which is where he’s now found his first bitter taste of disappointment. Continuing his role as a starter, he’s tossed 49.2 innings while registering a 5.26 ERA and giving up an astonishing 59 hits. He had an especially tough time adjusting to the hitter-friendly west coast where, through the All-Star break, he threw 26.2 innings and batters hit .330 off him as his ERA ballooned to 6.91. From there, he used a couple of appearances out of the bullpen to help regain some confidence and since the break – he’s thrown 23.0 innings – he has actually performed well, posting a 3.91 ERA and hitters are only tagging him at a .258 clip.
Despite his ups and downs, one encouraging part of his game has remained consistent, his walk ratio. Mengden is a guy that attacks the strike zone, no matter how good or bad his stuff on that particular day. His walks per nine innings ratio (BB/9) has fluttered around 2.0 throughout his early professional career, which is a good sign. His strike percentage (strikes/pitches thrown) this season hovers slightly above 60%, which is about average, but has been consistent every time he toes the rubber.
Mengden’s consistency seems to be what really defines him and it holds true with his pitching motion. If you look at the video below from an outing of his from a year ago, you’ll see his mechanics are fluid and he repeats his motion nearly identically every time without much strain on the rest of his body. Although it seems like he has a bit of a hitch in his windup, it makes no difference because the arm slot when he strides towards the plate is the same every time. Also note how he is balanced each time he follows through from the stretch or the windup – generally sign of solid mechanics. The right-hander gets a lot from his body, but also finds a way to not put too much stress on it, which is an unusually good quality.
As for his stuff, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo’s take on Mengden via mlbtraderumors.com, is that, “he doesn’t ‘wow’ scouts with pure stuff but features a solid four-pitch mix, with his curve and changeup trailing his fastball and slider.” His draft profile, which was comprised by MLB.com, says this about his four pitch combination:
"“His best offering is a fastball that usually ranges from 88-94 mph, though it can get straight at times. His slider is a close second, arriving at 82-85 mph and featuring some sharp bite when he stays on top of it. He also throws a downer curveball that isn’t quite as consistent as his slider, and he has the confidence to use his fading changeup in any count. Mengden may not have a true plus pitch, but he could have four average offerings”"
As for the final report, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs feels the 22-year old has a contributors role moving forward. “You’re looking at a lower risk, possibly quick-moving back-end starter type.” A scout McDaniel spoke with felt that, “Mengden’s stuff has been more fringy to average this year and he looks like a middle reliever or long man on some days, then like a solid back-end starter on others.”
Taking all of this along with studying his film, I could see Mengden being most effective – in the major leagues – as a reliever. Not necessarily a long-relief arm, but a guy that has the ability to throw lots of strikes and rev up the velocity if necessary. I want the most out of him and I just don’t see an inning-eater being the answer because the A’s have a ton of those. I believe if the newest Stockton Port could develop his slider into a plus pitch, we could see make plenty of impact as a late-innings guy at the big league level.