Potential On Hold
GLENDALE, Ariz.—On a cold, damp morning in early March, Jared Mitchell stepped in to face the Dodgers' Scott Elbert. He was the White Sox's leadoff man in a 'B' game, and despite the lefty-vs.-lefty matchup he pulled Elbert's pitch down the first-base line. The ball glanced off the first baseman's glove and kicked toward the stands, allowing Mitchell to easily reach second.
A little later in the inning, Mitchell broke for third on the front end of a double steal. His dive into the bag just beat a throw from Brad Ausmus. This was pretty impressive stuff from a kid who was at LSU a year ago.
Days later, however, Mitchell's season came to an end when he made a diving catch against the Angels, tearing a tendon in his left ankle that required surgery.
"You can see why he was a first-rounder," White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said. "He is a very talented kid."
Mitchell, 21, has played just 34 games as a pro after being drafted 23rd overall last June, but he appeared to have been in the express lane on his way to Chicago. That's why the White Sox broke from their normal way of arranging lockers by uniform number to put Mitchell's No. 80 right in between Juan Pierre's No. 1 and Paul Konerko's No. 14 this spring.
Mitchell was all ears. He said the best part of his first spring training was "learning from all these guys, sitting around and listening to the older guys."
Mitchell didn't appear overmatched at the plate. The White Sox took a mostly hands-off approach with Mitchell in 2009 but Walker quickly spotted some mechanical flaws that need fixing, most notably one with his feet that leads to inconsistent balance. They were working hard to correct it.
When Mitchell returns, bat will determine how quickly manager Ozzie Guillen can call on his speed and outfield range, which has generated comparisons to Carl Crawford and a young Johnny Damon.
• C.J. Retherford caught some bullpens early in camp but worked mostly as a second baseman. Dayan Viciedo likewise tried first base early but gravitated back to third base.
• Converted infielder Sergio Santos was off to a good start in his bid to win the final spot in the bullpen. He was always watched closely by scouts from other organizations.