2009 first round draft pick Jared Mitchell (#23 overall) has a future in the Chicago White Sox outfield. The question is just when.
Right now there really isn’t room with Alejandro de Aza, Dayan Viciedo and Alex Rios roaming the outer grass at the MLB right now. But when the chance arrives, Mitchell has all the tools to make it in the show.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder was ranked by Baseball America as the Best Athlete and Fastest Runner among draft-eligible college players. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, but turned it down to go back to school, where he won a national championship with the LSU Tigers. Mitchell also excelled in college football, combining for 24 receptions and 274 yards as a wide receiver for the Tigers football team from 2006-08, including their National Championship season in 2007.
Mitchell recently joined a bunch of us Sox bloggers on conference call and told us why he decided to go pro in baseball instead of football.
“I figured it was a good time in my career and it was a great opportunity. I knew at the end of the day some point I would have to make a decision, and like I said it was a great opportunity so I took it and ran with it,” Mitchell said.
He was also asked where he thought he would be in his baseball career right now had he decided to focus solely on baseball in college.
“There’s no question I’d be further ahead with the amount of at bats I wouldn’t have gotten. The future will tell for me and I’m just going to keep playing my game everyday and get better everyday and do what I can to help my team win.”
The Sox have taken a player from the collegiate ranks in the first round in each of the last nine drafts. Mitchell joins starting pitcher Chris Sale (2010, 13th overall), outfielder Keenyn Walker (2011, 47th overall), infielder Gordon Beckham (2008, eighth overall) Aaron Poreda (2007, 25th), Kyle McCulloch (2006, 30th) and Lance Broadway (2005, 15th) as the Sox last seven first-round picks.
Mitchell missed all of 2010 after rupturing a tendon in his ankle. He also had a very rough 2011, as it took him another season to fully recover from his very serious injury. Mitchell, now hitting .290 with a .917 OPS, 34 RBI and 11 SB with the AA Birmingham Barons, talked about getting back to being 100% healthy.
“I think it was some time over the offseason. I finally felt around 100% healthy around November. You’re only really able to play and be 100% yourself when you’re 100% healthy. When you’re 100% healthy, it kind of frees your mind up to everything else and lets you focus on the task at hand.”
In order to reach the big leagues, Mitchell needs to keep doing what he’s doing in regards to walking more and striking out less. He articulated what plate adjustments he’s made to progress in this department.
“The better plate discipline I guess comes from being in a better position at the plate. I can finally use my legs which allows me to see the ball better which I feel is helping a lot. You let yourself get into hitter’s counts, you don’t chase, and everything just kind of goes from there.”
As always, huge thank yous go out to South Side Sox for the transcript and Marty Maloney for arranging the interview and of course to Jared Mitchell for agreeing to listen to our barrage of questions despite having a game to play in tonight.
photo: Bleacher Report
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