Mitchell White Returning To Form
Since he was drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2016 draft, Mitchell White's potential has kept him among the team's top pitching prospects.
Injuries—a broken toe on his left foot, a back ailment and other minor problems—have kept that potential hidden at times and led to an unimpressive stat line at Double-A Tulsa last season, when he finished 6-7, 4.53 with a 1.41 WHIP in 22 starts. Over 95.2 innings during his first two seasons as a pro, White dominated hitters, holding them to a batting average below .200.
Last season, however, Texas League hitters hit .273 against him. And that might be the thing that is unlocking his potential in 2019.
"I think last year even though . . . it was somewhat disappointing, I think in retrospect it turned out to be a great thing for him," Dodgers director of player development Will Rhymes said. "It forced him to learn with stuff that was down a little bit—just due to not having a full offseason before to kind of build up his strength.
"So I think taking a step back, forcing him to pitch without his best stuff and focus more on the routine and preparation, and then just a sense of urgency because of last season into the offseason—he just dominated his offseason and put himself in a great place, physically and mentally."
White, 24, has reverted back to dominating hitters this season. In seven starts with Double-A Tulsa, White had a 2.10 ERA with 37 strikeouts and only 18 hits allowed in 30 innings. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A for the first time in mid-May.
"He's throwing a lot of strikes and he's missing a lot of bats," Rhymes said. "The fastball velocity has recovered and is even a tick above where it was a couple years ago . . . I think he has a 25 percent miss rate (with his fastball), which is the highest it's been. And he's in the zone more frequently with it. I think with the fastball and his ability to command it in the zone—the pitch has a lot of life to it—he's getting swings and misses on it, and that sets up all the secondary pitches that he has."
— White isn't the only one getting his first taste of Triple-A in May. Tenth-round pick Zach Reks became the first member of the Dodgers' 2017 draft class to reach Triple-A level when he was promoted to Oklahoma City. Reks, 25, was batting .310 and leading the Texas League in home runs (nine), runs scored (29), slugging percentage (.584) and OPS (.978) at the time of his promotion.
— The Dodgers signed Japanese pitcher Yujo Kitagata to a minor league deal. Kitagata, 25, was a first-round draft pick of the Yokahama Bay Stars of Japan’s Eastern League in 2012 but was released in 2013 without pitching for them. The righthander was instead playing in an independent league in Japan, where he reportedly reached 99 mph.