The Pittsburgh Pirates have a solid stable of outfield prospects in their minor league system. Many of those prospects have been featured in the Bucs Dugout Down on the Farm prospect series in recent weeks.
With names like Jared Oliva, Travis Swaggerty, Sammy Siani, Lolo Sanchez, Jack Herman and Juan Pie appearing on most lists featuring the top-25 Pirates Prospects, they provide a lot of reasons for Pirates fans to be excited about the future of the Pittsburgh outfield.
We examine yet another beacon of hope for the future of the Pirates outfield by taking an in-depth look at Cal Mitchell, who is currently ranked as the 13th overall prospect in the Pirates organization.
Mitchell was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2017 in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft with the 50th overall selection. He was selected out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, California.
Originally projected to go much higher in the draft, Mitchell saw his draft stock fall due to a senior season that saw his production dip below expectations. The Pirates saw a player who had excellent raw power potential and pounced on Mitchell with the 50th overall pick.
Initially committed to play baseball at the University of San Diego, Mitchell agreed to forgo his collegiate baseball career, instead of signing a $1.3 million deal with the Pirates. He would report immediately to the Gulf Coast League where he would post a .245 batting average with two home runs, 17 runs scored, 20 runs batted in and two stolen bases in 159 at-bats.
His success in the GCL would result in him receiving a promotion to the West Virginia Power to begin the 2018 season. In 443 at-bats with West Virginia, Mitchell would have a .280 batting average with 10 home runs, 65 runs batted in, 55 runs scored and four stolen bases.
Mitchell would begin the 2019 season with the High-A Bradenton Marauders. There he would hit for a .251 batting average with 15 home runs, 64 runs batted in, 54 runs scored and one stolen base in 451 at-bats.
While Mitchell was able to post a career-high in home runs, it came at the expense of lofty strikeout numbers. He would strike out 142 times last season, which equated to a 28.8% strikeout rate. Conversely, he would walk just 32 times, which resulted in a 6.5% walk rate.
Most experts believe that Mitchell was pressing too much to hit for power and as a result became impatient at the plate. His impatience led to him not waiting for better pitches to hit and an exponential increase in swing-and-misses.
In addition to poor plate discipline, Mitchell struggled mightily against left-handed pitching, hitting only .218 against lefties last season. He will need to make more consistent contact by improving his pitch selection and will need to improve against left-handed pitching if he hopes to excel at higher levels.
Mitchell is the kind of prospect who is solid at all facets of the game but does not have an area that stands out as exceptional. On a scale of 20 to 80 with 50 being average, he has a ranking of 45 for his hit tool, a ranking of 55 for power, a speed ranking of 40, a fielding rating of 50 and a throwing rating of 45.
At only 20-years of age, Mitchell is still young enough to make the proper adjustments to become an excellent major league player. The 6’ tall and the 210-pound lefty is expected to begin the season with the Double-A Altoona Curve and currently has an estimated arrival time to the Pirates of sometime in 2022.
It will be interesting to see if Mitchell can make the necessary adjustments at the plate to maintain his power potential while reducing his strikeout totals. If he can, it is likely the Pirates found themselves a steal in the second round of the 2017 draft and that Mitchell will shoot up the prospect rankings.