Danny Mendick’s Journey was not an easy task. Growing up in Rochester, New York, the utility infielder dealt with much adversity early on, coming out of high school at 5-foot-8, and not a single college team knocking on his door made it very difficult for him.
After not receiving any type of scholarship to play college ball. Mendick decided to stay close to home and attend Monroe Community College for two seasons, before heading to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell for his final two seasons, where he hit a combined .317/.407/.467.
“I didn’t look good getting off the bus, per say,” Mendick told Belly Up Sports’ Jack O’Hara before Friday night’s game in Charlotte. “I was undersized and underweight compared to most, so I just put my head down, grinded and became really good at my own craft.”
In 2015, after completing two seasons at Monroe Community College and two seasons at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, a young Danny Mendick waited patiently for his phone to ring, to let him know which organization he would be starting his professional baseball career with.
“The [Chicago] Cubs actually told me that they’d pick me in the front end of the first ten rounds,” Mendick said. “I wasn’t gonna sit and wait around for my name to be called, I was gonna go do something.”
Mendick would call up one of his close friends and go golfing on the day that the University of Massachusetts graduate would eventually be drafted by a Major League Baseball team in the city of Chicago…just not the Cubs.
“We were on the 15th hole, of the second round of 18 that we played, when I got a call from their front office saying I was drafted to the Chicago White Sox.”
In the 22nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the Chicago White Sox would come knocking, drafting Mendick and adding him to a farm system that needed help, ranked 21st in the league with prospects Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer in the team’s plans for 2017 and beyond.
After making multiple trades over the past couple of seasons, however, Chicago would rebrand their farm system, adding the likes of Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, sending Jose Quintana to the north side in 2017, as well as the signing of highly-touted cuban slugger, Luis Robert, right before the deadline.
With the amount of talent in the organization going into the 2018 season, Danny Mendick had a chip on his shoulder and felt that he had something to prove: “I like being under the radar because someday when I do come up (to the majors), and everyone is like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ it will be a little more special.”
In 2017, Mendick played under the tutelage and guidance of Willie Harris, who like Danny, was a utility defender in the infield, playing multiple positions, and was a key contributor in bringing a World Championship back to the south side, for the first time in 88 years back in 2005.
“He turned my career around,” said Mendick, before Friday night’s game in Charlotte, “His personality and the way he goes about his business really turned my career around. He taught me to go out there and not worry about what anyone else was doing on the field and worry about my own play and know that I was better than everybody else.”
Mendick has also idolized current utility men in the Major leagues today, getting a chance to play alongside them during Spring Training the last few seasons in the Cactus League as well.
“I just look at guys like Ben Zobrist and Brock Holt, how they’re so versatile and so good, the team can just put them wherever and they’ll go out there and produce. That’s a guy I want to be like. They can ask me to do whatever, and I’ll just do it.”
Mendick was named team most-valuable player for the Birmingham Barons (Double-A Affiliate) in 2018, hitting .247 with 14 home runs, 25 runs batted in and 20 steals. He currently is hitting .279 with 11 home runs in Triple-A for the Charlotte Knights, as he creeps closer to his dream of playing big-league ball.