CAL MITCHELL, CORNER OUTFIELDER
Born: March 8, 1999
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 2nd Round, 50th Overall, 2017
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Agent: N/A

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
Mitchell reflected a draft strategy on the Pirates’ part that appeared to seek upside, as they went with prep players on their first four selections.  He also reflected a greater emphasis on power potential than they’ve generally shown.  Mitchell was rated more highly going into his senior year than at draft time, but a change in his approach at the plate hurt his stock.  He’d shown plus power and the ability to drive the ball to all fields in the past, but in 2017 he developed a pull happy swing that resulted in increased swings and misses.  He rebounded late to put up decent stats for the season and has the power, hit tool and strike zone judgment to be a good hitter in the future if the strikeouts aren’t an issue.  He’s a below average runner who was already limited as a prep player to left field and he doesn’t have a strong arm, so his bat will have to carry him.  He had a commitment to the University of San Diego, but the Pirates signed him for exactly the slot amount.

2017
R:  245/351/352, 159 AB, 11 2B, 2 HR, 24 BB, 35 K, 2-5 SB

Mitchell didn’t hit the ball with a great deal of authority during his debut, but he wasn’t overmatched, as the BB:K ratio shows.  He played two games each in center and right, and spent the rest of his time in left.

2018
A:  280/344/427, 443 AB, 29 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 41 BB, 109 K, 4-9 SB

The Pirates sent Mitchell to West Virginia, where he was one of the league’s youngest players.  He got off to a fast start, but tailed off steadily after the first month until he rebounded a bit at season’s end.  His monthly OPS:

April:  1.043
May:  .791
June:  .709
July:  .611
August:  .672
September (3 games):  .974

His plate discipline was just decent throughout the season.  Mitchell had a reverse platoon split, batting 357/413/490 against LHPs and 258/325/409 against RHPs.  He played a few games in right and otherwise played left.

2019
A+:  251/304/406, 451 AB, 21 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 32 BB, 142 K, 1-2 SB

Mitchell had a frustrating season.  Considering the context — a player who’d just turned 20 in the pitching-dominated Florida State League — his power numbers were good.  He was sixth in the league in HRs and tenth in SLG.  His walk and K rates, though, were obviously bad.  Every time he seemed to have gotten the bat going, he’d go into a lengthy slump.  His OPS by month:

April:  .807
May:  .752
June:  .562
July:  .840
August:  .558

Mitchell had significant problems with LHPs, with a .542 OPS vs. .750 against RHPs.  He had ten outfield assists, although that doesn’t necessarily show a strong arm.

2020
DNP

2021
AA:  280/330/429, 402 AB, 20 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 24 BB, 71 K, 6-13 SB
AAA:  250/286/300, 20 AB, 1 2B, 4 K

Mitchell got off to a strong start at Altoona and appeared to be living up to his potential.  Through the first two months, he had eight home runs and was slugging .535.  Over the last three months in AA, he had four homers, just one after July, and slugged .357.  Mitchell struggled badly against LHPs, with a .536 OPS, compared to .820 against RHPs.  His walk rate remained low but his K rate was much lower than in the past.  He played almost exclusively in right.  The Pirates moved him up to Indianapolis after the AA season ended and he got into seven games there.

2022
AAA:  339/391/547, 236 AB, 18 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 17 BB, 38 K, 8-9 SB
MLB:  226/286/349, 212 AB, 11 2B, 5 HR, 18 BB, 52 K, 3-4 SB

Mitchell split the season between AAA and the majors.  At Indianapolis, he put things together to a greater extent than he had before.  He didn’t walk a great deal, but his K rate was low and he hit for good power.  He hammered LHPs for a 1.038 OPS.  The Pirates called Mitchell up in late May and he struggled, posting just a .553 OPS through late June, when they sent him down.  He returned for the second half of July and hit 297/333/487, but they sent him down again when he started August 1-for-17.  He came back for September and hit 267/361/373.  Mitchell’s plate discipline improved a great deal over the season; he had a BB:K ratio of 11:16 in September, 7:36 before that.  He hit LHPs a little better than RHPs.  The Pirates played Mitchell exclusively in right in the majors and Statcast sees his defense as bad.

The Pirates left Mitchell off the roster in fall 2021, choosing instead to protect various sub-replacement veteran relievers who ended up contributing nothing.  Luckily, the Rule 5 draft got canceled due to the lockout.  The team also seemed reluctant to call him up in the latter part of 2022 even though he was easily their best hitter at Indianapolis.  All of this reflects poorly on their judgment of talent.  Unlike Jack Suwinski and Canaan Smith-Njigba, Mitchell doesn’t seem to have a problem with LHPs.  On the down side, he’s probably best cast as a DH.  He should be a favorite for a starting role in 2023.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2023: Major league minimum
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $1,357,300
MiLB Debut: 2017
MLB Debut: 5/24/2022
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2028
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 5/24/2022
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.094
TRANSACTIONS
June 12, 2017: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 50th overall pick; signed on June 20.
May 24, 2022: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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