An in Depth Look at Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Cal Mitchell
By Cody Potanko
In the next installment of the Farm Report, we take a look at The Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth-ranked prospect outfielder Cal Mitchell.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Cal Mitchell in 2017 in the second round out of Rancho Bernadaro high-school in San Diego, California. The highly-touted prospect would start in the Gulf Coast League, where he had 185 plate appearances; his slash line was .245/.351/.352 with 20 RBI’s.
In those 43 games, he didn’t show much power with a below-average ISO of .107, but his other advanced stats showed above-average tendencies with a wOBA .337, a BABIP of .303, and a wRC+ of 105. Although his stats were either average or a little above average, he showed tendencies of being a very capable hitter.
In 2018 Mitchell was promoted to the West Virginia Black Bears, where he showed improvement from last year. His slash line improved as a whole with .280/.344/.427. His power numbers improved as well, with ten home runs while knocking in 65 RBI’s. As a result of his improved power, his ISO went up 40 points, Mitchell’s BABIP went up to .347, and his wRAA was at 11.4.
Last year Mitchell was again promoted to the very pitcher oriented Florida State League with the Bradenton Marauders. As a result, his slash line dipped a bit with .251/.304/.406. His power numbers, however, were boosted with five more home runs than the previous year and relatively the same amount of RBI’s with his highest ISO of .155.
Some of his advanced metrics took a hit as well, with a wOBA of .326 and a wRC+ of 110. The good news in all of this though, is he stayed above the average, and considering the FSL is difficult for most hitters, it’s encouraging to see.
Now there are some issues with Mitchell that need to be addressed as soon as possible. The main chink in his armor is his growing impatience at the plate with his BB% dipping each year; most recently, it was a lowly 6.5% and his K% snowballing with a 28.8%. For me, Mitchell is focusing way too much on the long ball and XBH; he forgot the fundamentals to a good AB.
The next issue that can be solved is facing left-handed pitching. Last year he batted .218 while striking out 38 times in 94 plate appearances. When and if he makes it to the majors, he will have to make significant adjustments to stay in the lineup against lefties.
If history serves as an indicator, I expect Mitchell to be promoted to the AA club in Altoona, where he will be tested with his patience. The good news in all of this is Mitchell is only 20 years old, and there is still plenty of time to work on a plethora of things. With newly named AA manager Dave Turgeon who is a long time veteran coach, Mitchell would do well to learn from him and maybe learn some new techniques.
Mitchell is projected to make the majors in 2021; his hitting potential is very promising so it isn’t hard to see that projection. If he can manage to gain a sense of awareness at the plate, he very well could be the next big thing patrolling the outfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates.