Turlock’s own Tommy Mendonca is coming back to California. The former Turlock High and Fresno State standout was acquired by the Oakland Athletics via the Triple-A phase of the Rule-5 draft on Thursday, ending a three year stint where he played 297 minor league games for the Texas Rangers.
Mendonca was in Turlock sleeping when he received a surprise phone call from his agent with the unexpected news.
“It made my day. My favorite team and now I get to play for them,” Mendonca said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
Mendonca made a name for himself at third base during the 2008 College World Series where he helped lead his Bulldogs to a Championship and was named the series MVP for his defensive efforts. Mendonca’s collegiate post-season performance led to a tour of the world with the USA Baseball college national team and helped convince the Rangers to select him in the second round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. Now, the Turlock native is looking to further his reputation as a player with the Sacramento River Cats or the Oakland A’s.
Road blocked from third base by veteran Adrian Beltre and prospect Mike Olt, the Rangers attempted to move Mendonca behind the plate but early reports suggest Oakland plans on using Mendonca at third. It’s still too early to know for sure however; as even Mendonca has yet to find out if he will be attending Major or Minor league camp in the spring.
“The Rangers had Adrian Beltre who’s one of the best third baseman ever so I was kind of stuck,” Mendonca said. “I’m just happy that there’s an opportunity in Oakland to further succeed.”
Though his immediate path is up in the air, Turlockers —family and friends—are excited at the prospect of another local athlete playing professional ball in the Bay.
“I’m happy, pumped, and ready to go,” Mendonca said. “The opportunity is mine. It’s just a matter of how far I push myself and how hard I work.”