Calvin Mitchell Impresses With Mature Approach
Before spring training even began, the Pirates noticed that outfielder Calvin Mitchell was taking this season seriously.
Mitchell, who turned 19 in March, spent the offseason in Florida so he could train close to the Pirates’ facility in Bradenton. The 2017 second-rounder from Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego hit just two home runs in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer, and he was determined to change that.
Mission accomplished at low Class A West Virginia this season. Through 29 games, the lefthanded-hitting Mitchell hit .313/.368/.518 with three home runs. He ranked among the South Atlantic League leaders in extra-base hits and total bases.
"What we like about him is the professionalism he’s shown at the plate,” farm director Larry Broadway said. ". . . He’s powerful and accurate with the barrel on the ball. He gets a pitch he wants to hit, and he puts an easy swing on it and barrels it. And he has done a really nice job of committing to an approach and committing to an effort level.”
The Pirates got the hard-hitting Mitchell later than they expected in last year’s draft, picking him 50th overall after he had projected as a first-round pick into his senior season. He went through a slump as a high school senior but still put up good numbers, and the Pirates didn’t take much convincing.
So far, they’ve seen the player they wanted show up in the organization.
"I think that’s what he’s worked on,” Broadway said. "He’s worked on being a good hitter. Coming in, that’s what we liked about him. His ability to see the ball has always been very good. How he works at pitch selection and delivering the barrel . . . That’s one of the main reasons we drafted him. He continues to develop and show maturity with it.”
Broadway said the Pirates see some leadership qualities in Mitchell, which could be important going forward. That's because many of the prospects with strong makeup who helped position the Pirates as baseball's top farm system in 2014—including Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon—have since graduated to the majors.
As they restock the system, the Pirates could use a power hitter like Mitchell who the rest of their prospects look up to.
"He’s finding his voice,” Broadway said. "He’s very much a pro in how he goes about his business. At this point, he’s starting to lead himself and influence others with how he goes about his business.”
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>> West Virginia shortstop Oneil Cruz and first baseman Mason Martin each hit four home runs in April, building on what they showed in limited time last season. They both had high strikeout figures, however. "They’ve both hit highs and some lows there, which is good,” Broadway said. "They’re going to learn some things this year.”
>> Righthander Nick Kingham's major league debut was the farm system’s highlight of April. The 2010 fourth-rounder pitched seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and threw 6.2 perfect innings to set a record for consecutive batters retired (20) in a major league debut in the expansion era.