After an underwhelming season at the plate in 2016, the Snappers' lineup has been surprisingly productive in the early months of 2017. At the center of that success is Nate Mondou, an infielder whose breakout campaign has been one of Beloit's most interesting stories in 2017. Mondou isn't a speed demon, nor does he hit for the power of a player like his teammate Miguel Mercedes. However, the 5-foot-10 infielder does a little bit of everything, and has been a model of consistency atop Beloit's lineup.
None of the Athletics' top 30 prospects are currently playing with the Snappers, but Mondou is one of a few players on the squad who has a chance at cracking MLB Pipeline's midseason prospect rankings. Oakland selected Mondou in the 13th round of the 2016 MLB Draft at 382nd overall following his junior year at Wake Forest University. Mondou, who bats left-handed, hit .308 with 21 home runs and 114 RBIs over the course of his three-year collegiate career for the Demon Deacons.
That success has certainly translated to his first taste of professional baseball. In 53 games for the Snappers in 2017, Mondou is batting .321 accompanied by an impressive .393 on-base percentage. He's yet to hit a home run in his professional career, but he does have 13 doubles and three triples in 2017.
Despite the immediate success, Mondou noted that the transition to pro ball is definitely an adjustment.
"Especially at the plate, patience was one of the things [I needed to work on]," he said. "In college I was a very aggressive hitter and probably swung at some pitches I shouldn't have and got away with it some. But I think especially in professional baseball with the wood bat you have to be more selective. So for me it's been patience, being more selective, but still maintaining the aggressive hitter that I am."
Based on Mondou's performance, one wouldn't guess that he's in the process of making changes to his game. Mondou was recently named a Midwest League All-Star, and will start at second base for the Western squad. He was also a New York-Penn League All-Star in 2016 while playing for Short-Season A Vermont, where he hit .298 in 60 games. Although he's barely into his professional career, Mondou isn't surprised at the accolades he has racked up so far.
"I knew I was prepared," he said. "The coaches back at Wake Forest really prepared me well and the coaches before that, including my dad as well, really prepared me for college, so I think the preparation I knew was there and I just needed to trust that preparation in order to succeed. I think the success was expected, but it's nice to see the results on the field."
Mondou rattled off several names that have helped him with that preparation.
"I can really look back to my hitting coach in high school that I still work with back home during the offseason, Mike Brooks," Mondou said. "My dad has been a huge influence, and my mom too, with the support they show, as well as the coaches at Wake Forest. Everyone [in Beloit] has been great so far; [hitting coach Juan Dilone] this year has been fantastic, he's never afraid to work, so you can get in the cage whenever you want."
Mondou emphasized that, despite his great hitting season to this point, he arguably worked even more on defense this past offseason.
"There was a lot of defensive work in the offseason and to come away with a really good defensive season, that was probably one of my biggest goals for this year," he said. "Just trying to be more consistent, and that's kind of the name of the game, especially playing up the middle."
The Snappers have used Mondou, primarily a second baseman, at a few different infield positions in 2017, including third base.
"I think second base definitely is where I project and feel most comfortable at, but I think I can play all over the infield," he said. "I think that's very valuable to have, being able to move around keep my bat in the lineup."
Mondou has enjoyed his time with the A's organization thus far and hopes to continue progressing in the right direction.
"Being able to truly just dive into baseball, spend the maximum amount of time doing that has been huge in developing my game. It's been very fun and rewarding for me."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.