Danny Mendick was a 22nd round MLB draft pick.
He’s wears that lowly entrance into pro baseball like a badge of honor. When he was called up to the majors with the White Sox for the first time late last season, he was reminded why being an underdog can be such an inspiration.
“We’re on a bus… after one of our road trips. It’s almost like an orientation where (the veterans) bring you up and they want to introduce you,” Mendick recalls. “The first thing they ask is, ‘what round were you picked in?’ I said the 22nd round and everybody just started applauding.”
Mendick adds that first round picks usually get boos.
Once you reach the majors, it doesn’t matter what round you were drafted. Everyone is on the same level, but everyone also respects what was required to walk Mendick’s path to the big leagues.
“You take pride in it. I know all the work I dedicated to it. When it get’s appreciated like that, it’s great,” he said.
Mendick played 16 games last season and hit a very respectable .308 with 12 hits in 39 at-bats. He added his first two major league home runs and four runs batted in.
This year, the goal is to stick in the majors. That means first making it to opening day healthy. Mendick says the White Sox are doing a thorough job of keeping the players Covid-19 free.
“I wear a mask all the time. Have to wear a mask all the time. Can’t get near people. You don’t want to get it. You don’t want to get sick,” Mendick says. “You wash your hands. Do stuff like that. The team, they take every single precaution that is possible. Sometimes it almost seems like it’s too much.”
With a shortened 60-game season, there’s no time for mistakes. Some hard core and traditional baseball fans have scoffed at the “legitimacy” of a season diminished by over 100 games.
The players don’t see it that way. Mendick said the consensus among his teammates is “a World Series is a World Series.” The White Sox are just the right type of young and hungry squad that could surprise if they can start hot.
This season, there might not be any other choice.
“Coaches are going to coach differently,” Mendick said. “They might pinch hit in game one because you don’t want to go 0-1. You don’t have that 20 game period where a guy wants to get loose, get his legs underneath him, get his rhythm. You want to win right off the bat.”
Mendick has the correct attitude when it comes to his place in the majors. Numbers don’t concern him. He wants to learn multiple positions. He wants to contribute.
Back in March, many thought Mendick had an excellent chance to make the White Sox out of spring training as a utility infielder. He still has that chance in July.
All he has to do is keep playing like a 22nd rounder pick.
“I got to the big leagues. I want to stay in the big leagues,” Mendick said. “The mentality that I’m a 22nd rounder is what’s going keep driving me every single day.”