Rochester Red Wings Report: On Joey Meneses
A look at Joey Meneses and what he meant for the Rochester Red Wings and the Nationals organization.
Dan Glickman writes about baseball at The Baseball Continuum and the Rochester Red Wings, particularly at Pickin’ Splinters. He’ll provide mostly-weekly updates on the AAA Nationals affiliate during the second half of the 2022 season and potentially beyond.
I've said this before, but AAA is an odd duck as far as baseball is concerned. While it is undoubtedly the second-best level in North American baseball and probably the third-best in the world overall (behind of course MLB and the Japanese Leagues). However, it actually is not always the best place to see prospects. Sometimes it is, but not always. No, the reason why AAA is the best baseball outside of the majors is because of the AAAA guys.
The guys who are clearly too good to be in the minors, but never can quite get that permanent MLB job. Maybe it's because they actually aren't good enough to make it to the bigs, but there are some others who are simply stuck behind somebody better. Ryan Howard, for example, infamously was in AAA far longer than he should have been because the Phillies had Jim Thome.
And then there are those guys who just don't get the chance. Maybe it's because they are unlucky like Thome was, maybe they just didn't click enough for a while. Doesn't matter. They never make the majors despite clearly being good enough.
It is in that group that you could find Joey Meneses. That he never got called up before this year seems in hindsight insane. In 2018, he was named the MVP of the International League, slashing .311/.360/.510 while hitting 23 home runs.
However, he wasn't called up by the Phillies. He traveled the world: America, his native Mexico, Japan, and the Dominican. Everywhere he went, he hit. Certainly, he hit better in some places than others, and he certainly made his share of mistakes (there was a drug suspension during his brief stay in Japan, for example), but in the end, all he did was hit. And yet he never got the chance to be in the big leagues.
Until now. And he has made the most of it. As of this writing, he's hitting .327/.361/.566 with seven home runs. In fact, he's outhitting Juan Soto himself, which is funny since he was called up because Soto was traded. Will he still be hitting better than Juan Soto the rest of the year, much less next year? Probably not, but that he's doing that right now is proof he's making sure his first big league call-up was truly worth the wait.
This brings us back to the Red Wings and their fans. Obviously, the hits he has in the big leagues don't count for the Red Wings. And yet, in some ways, it is an accomplishment. A badge of honor. Because whenever he does something well, fans here can remember: his season started here. Just as minor league fans can brag forever that they saw a hall of Famer or MVP, Rochester fans this season can brag that they saw Joey Meneses before he somehow proved the best player this season in the Juan Soto trade.
Which, in a season that has seen the Wings go from being championship contenders to bottom-dwellers, is something of a victory in itself.