When Adrian Mendoza, a skinny, 145-pound sophomore, first walked onto the baseball field at Royal High, teammates were tempted to grab him and use him as a bat.
“Adrian was almost anorexic,” Royal Coach Dan Maye said. “He just looked like a skeleton. He must have weighed 105 pounds.”
Closer to 145, according to Mendoza.
“And that’s pushing it,” he said. “People would say, ‘Hey, look at the fungo.”
Mendoza, now a 6-foot-2, 165-pound senior left-hander who has signed with Cal State Northridge, chuckles at the recollection.
“They still [call me that],” Mendoza said. “But it doesn’t really bother me.”
Mendoza admits he could stand to gain a few pounds. His goal is to gain 20 pounds by the time he suits up for the Matadors.
“I’ve been trying everything,” Mendoza said. “I take all that weight-gainer stuff and I eat all the time. I just don’t know where it goes.”
Mendoza may be lean, but for the past two years he has weighed heavily in Royal’s fortunes as a pitcher, hitter and first baseman.
This season, Mendoza was 8-1 with a 1.60 earned-run average in 48 innings for the Highlanders’ second Marmonte League championship team in five years. Over two seasons, he 17-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings.
Between starts, Mendoza, an exceptional fielder, started at first base and batted second in the county’s most potent lineup. He batted .517 with 24 runs batted in.
“He puts in a lot of work on everything he does,” Maye said. “He spends hours in the batting cage. And he’s got a tremendous glove. His sophomore year, he saved our infield. We must have thrown 100 balls in the dirt.”
Mendoza’s defensive skills developed first, his hitting second and pitching third.
“I got it all together this year,” he said.
Now if only his metabolism would cooperate.
“I’ve been trying,” Mendoza said. “I have no problem putting in the work. It’s just that I haven’t seen the results.”