Pittsburgh Pirates: Cal Mitchell Proving Himself

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates top outfield prospect has been playing really well so far this season.  Recently, he has been even better.

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates top outfield prospect is outfielder Cal Mitchell.  Mitchell was a second-round pick in the 2017 draft and has quickly climbed the prospect rankings.  He was considered an upside pick out when the Bucs took him out of the California high school ranks.  However, there were questions about his swing and if he would make enough contact at the professional level.

Still, the Bucs seemed high on him and took him a little higher than he was ranked (79th) with the 50th pick in the draft.  Here was the scouting report on the left-handed-hitting outfielder from MLB Pipeline back in 2017:

"Over the summer, Mitchell showed plus raw power, driving balls to all fields. He’s changed his setup at the plate now, with his hands into his body more, with a top-hand heavy, pull side approach. Perhaps he’s trying to show more in-game power, but this spring it’s resulted in a lot more swing-and-miss with no feel to go the other way. The main issue is that Mitchell’s carrying tool is his bat."

Mitchell’s “carrying” tool, his bat, has been everything the Pittsburgh Pirates could have hoped.  Through his minor league career, Mitchel has slashed a solid .269/. 334/.423 in 251 career games.  He has 26 career home runs in the minors to go along with 59 doubles, five triples, and 141 runs batted in on the year.  The one red flag is that he is swinging and missing too much, with 254 career strikeouts.

Still, this year Mitchell has officially turned into a legitimate power-hitting prospect.  He is currently playing for the Bradenton Marauders at High-A, where he is hitting .267/.313/.452 in 89 games.  Yes, Mitchell has struck out 110 times already, but he also has hit a career-high in home runs with 14 this year.  In his previous 162 career games, he had 12 home runs, this year he has  14 in 89 games.

The biggest evolution for Mitchell has been his power.  He is now 20 years old and may finally be physically maturing into his frame.  Last year, Mitchell’s ISO was a solid .147, but his ISO this year is up nearly 40 points at .186.  ISO stands for isolated power and does a better job of measuring a players power than the traditional slugging percentage.

Mitchell really showed off this power over the last week or so.  Since July 16th, Mitchell has four home runs and 15 RBIs.  He also has raised his batting average 15 points in that same stretch.  The biggest moment of the week came when Mitchell hit a walk-off grand slam on July 17th and promptly hit another grand slam just days later on the 21st.

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Mitchell seems to be getting hot at the right time.  He is starting to hit the ball with power more consistently and is learning how to drive the ball out of the stadium.  If he continues that he very well could get bumped up to Double-A before the end of the year.