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Cal Mitchell Tries To 'Force' The Issue



Oneil Cruz and Mason Martin are the most obvious power hitters to watch in the Pirates' farm system.

But don't overlook 22-year-old corner outfielder Cal Mitchell, the 2017 second-rounder who broke camp with Double-A Altoona.

Mitchell was known for his raw power since he signed for $1.3 million out of San Diego's Rancho Bernardo High. That power may still be more on the raw side, but the the Pirates were definitely noticing the lefthanded hitter's power on their side.

“When you put him in the weight room and you see who can generate the most force, he is definitely at the top of the charts when it comes to that,” Pirates farm director John Baker said.

Baker said that Mitchell generates a lot of strength from his lower half, while having the coordination and the mental skills to apply his raw power in games.

“When you combine (force) with his feel at the plate, and his low heartbeat in the batter’s box, I think you can see why (power) would pop up with him,” Baker said. “He’s got both a really good eye, and he’s a really good athlete, with a slow heartbeat. It makes for all of the components of a really good hitter.”

Mitchell’s power showed up in the very early part of the minor league season. Through seven games he had hit a double and a home run to go with six walks and seven strikeouts. The plate approach was a welcome addition after he struck out 142 times at High-A Bradenton in 2019.

What Mitchell had done early in the season was a microcosm of what he could be capable of in the future. His upside is as a bat-first, power-hitting corner outfielder who might also be able to hit for average and get on base.

BURIED TREASURE

— Righthander Roansy Contreras, one of five prospects acquired from the Yankees as part of the Jameson Taillon trade, has gotten off to a strong start at Double-A Altoona. The 21-year-old threw 11 shutout innings in his first two starts, striking out 22 in the process, while throwing 97-99 mph through the sixth inning in his second start.

— The Pirates called up first baseman Will Craig after he hit three home runs in two games for Triple-A Indianapolis. The 2016 first-rounder out of Wake Forest has shown power and the ability to hit for average and get on base, but he had not yet paired both parts of his game at the same time. Craig has worked with big league hitting coach Rick Eckstein and Triple-A hitting coach Jon Nunnally on loading into his back hip and holding that position longer to hold his energy.

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2019 Florida State League All-Star Teams

Prospects like Royce Lewis, Jonathan India, Vidal Brujan and William Contreras headline the 2019 Florida State League All-Star Game.

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