Less than two years removed from his selection as a fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros in the 2014 MLB Draft, Mengden is just a step away from the major leagues. Mengden earned a promotion from the Double-A Midland RockHounds to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds this week after allowing just two runs in 23 innings for Midland. He picked up right where he left off with the Sounds, tossing 13 shutout innings over his first two PCL starts. He struck out 12 and recorded 17 outs on the grounders in those two outings.
Mengden was one of two players acquired by the A’s in the deal that sent Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros last summer. While the other prospect in the deal (2080 Preseason Top 125 prospect Jacob Nottingham) received more press, Mengden is quickly making his own mark as a rising prospect. The feeling around the A’s organization is that Mengden has a strong chance of making his major league debut this season. In fact, he could be an option for the A’s as soon as this week, as Oakland just sent down right-hander Jesse Hahn on Sunday, and the team will need to recall another starter by mid-week. Hahn’s spot will likely be filled by either Mengden or Eric Surkamp.
Mengden is hard to miss on the field with his handlebar mustache and old-fashioned stirrups. He employs an over-the-head windup that includes a hesitation at the top, reminiscent of many pitchers who began their careers in Japan. The delivery creates deception, but Mengden is far from a “hide the ball and fool them” pitcher. His fastball regularly 91-to-93 mph and touches 95, and he locates it well to both sides of the plate. Mengden’s best secondary offering is a cutter, and it plays a big part in his better than 50% groundball rate. Mengden’s changeup and curveball have also been effective pitches for him this season. He could stand to whittle down the walks (he has walked 14 in 36 IP), but he is otherwise a fairly finished product despite being in only his second full year of professional baseball. – Melissa Lockard