Jessica Mendoza’s All-Star Week coverage in Seattle will have her experience the past, present and future.
With the 2023 MLB Draft taking place on ESPN, the former softball Olympic-medalist turned broadcaster looks forward to offering up her analysis on the future of the sport.
“I love [the draft] because I get to know a lot of these guys that we’ve seen now in Omaha [during the College World Series],” Mendoza told Awful Announcing. “Some of the high school kids to showcase that.”
She’ll also cover the other side of the All-Star festivities with those already established in the league during the Home Run Derby. Mendoza looks forward to the coverage, of course, but additionally enjoys tapping into her nerdy roots from her Stanford education with the newest technology being introduced into the event.
“The nerd in me, this is where Stanford starts to come out,” Mendoza laughed. “Just put on the nerd-nation taped glasses. That’s how I feel about this cast because it’s really fun, the things that we get to talk about. And it’s not just numbers and analytics, it’s actually just really cool technologies that we get to experiment [with] and showcase.”
The presentation for the derby will be titillating for baseball nerds, and even for those who don’t have FanGraphs refreshing every minute.
There will be a StatCast alternate presentation on ESPN2 during the derby that will collaborate with MLB StatCast. Here’s more on that from an ESPN release:
The telecasts will include analytics-focused commentary driven by innovative on-screen graphics, data and information provided by StatCast. Additionally, the telecast will include real-time Augmented Reality Exit Velocity, Launch Angle and home run probability. The home run coverage and the ball flight will be displayed as a 3D animation.
“We’re going to be able to, in real time, for the first time ever, be able to track,” Mendoza said. “So how you always see the trails, but we’ll actually get to do it like in golf as they hit it, and where it lands in immediate distance, which has never been done before.”
Mendoza also said the technology will break down and showcase how the player’s body is being used as well.
It’s two events that are sandwiched within the All-Star festivities, but at different spectrums. Both are covered with different mindsets.
“It’s the future versus the present,” Mendoza said. “You just get excited about that difference, and that’s why they have it different days. But the fact that the draft is all about the future of baseball, and you get excited, especially coming off of the College World Series, knowing that we’ll probably have more first-round draft picks that were in Omaha than any years we’ve ever had … and that’s just unprecedented.”
“It’s a lot of these stars in Omaha. It’s usually years and years before you ever see them. And we know now with the draft that we’re seeing these rookies make it into the bigs faster than they’ve made it before.”
Mendoza said despite the two different realms of the draft and the derby, there’s one commonality.
“There’s always the overall mindset of, ‘How can we get the best after what we’re seeing?’ Whether it’s on screen, whether it’s on a panel and the athletes that you’re around, it’s always trying to get what’s going to allow people to get really excited about what they’re seeing,” Mendoza added.
That stretches out beyond MLB, of course. And Mendoza knows that well from her time as a top softball player, including for Team USA.
“So whether it’s women’s sports, or women in baseball, like, how do we really showcase that, or the future of the draft, of the game?” Mendoza asked. “How do we really take this ownership, like it’s our job and our responsibility, to tell you why to pay attention to this?”
Mendoza’s responsibilities will begin during the week when she flies into Seattle a couple of days before everything begins. It’ll be a short trip, with her being an Oregon resident. She will be participating in events around women in baseball for MLB, including a panel with her Olympic teammates Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez and Natasha Watley.
“That’ll be really cool,” Mendoza said.
Mo’ne Davis, who took the world by storm to become the first girl in Little League World Series history to pitch a winning game, will also be on the panel.
“Obviously being up there with my Olympic teammates that’s like, it’s such a familiarity,” Mendoza said. “But it’s also a chance for everyone else to understand the power of the greatest that have ever played the sport. and the influence with the sport of baseball right now and what they’re all doing individually.”
“That’s something I get excited about. These are my girls, these are my sisters, we grew up together.”