In today’s “A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer” we talked with fast rising Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Cal Mitchell
Over the past week, I have had the utmost pleasure to interview multiple young, up and coming Pittsburgh Pirates prospects. Everyone here at Rum Bunter would like to thank everyone who has participated and to the readers of this series. In these desperate times of no sports, your support and thoughtful comments are what make me doing this worth it!
Now, to the business at hand. In my fifth installment of “A day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer,” I interviewed the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 2nd round pick, outfielder Cal Mitchell.
Like every interview I’ve done before, I wanted to know who the man behind the jersey was. “If you met me, I’m a pretty laid back guy from southern California. I’m pretty chill I like the beach I like to draw and have a laid back demeanor,” Mitchell said.
Stemming off of that question, I wanted to know how Cal would describe himself if he could only use one word to work with.
“I’d say outgoing I pride myself on trying to build good relationships and maintain those. I always will try to make new ones along the way.” I can’t stress enough how vital creating and maintaining relationships in life and in baseball are.
California in itself is a hotbed for talent in most major sports, and in particular baseball. Cal mentioned that the reason for this is most likely due to the fact they can always play.
“Since I was a kid, it went from spring ball, summer ball, fall ball, and winter ball. There was never really a good time to stop we would always just play.”
Life is filled with several influences from the people around us and involved in our everyday lives. I tried to get a gauge on who those people were in Cal’s life and what they meant to him.
“I had two that came in different points in my life. The first was my dad, who was a pitcher for the Bulldogs at Fresno State. My dad got me into baseball because that’s what he had done; he let me try out, and I loved it. It’s kind of funny because he thought I was going to be a pitcher because I was a lefty and he thought that’s what we were going to do. My pitching coach pulled my dad aside, and my dad was kind of jabbing at him that I was going to be a pitcher. Ultimately the pitching coach said I wasn’t going to be a pitcher I was going to be a hitter.”
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“When I was ten years old, I started doing travel baseball and met a guy named Dave Stuart. He was coaching our travel baseball team, and Dave was a very accomplished baseball player for the Oakland Athletics and was a world series MVP just an incredible human being. We developed this great relationship, and he was running his agency at the time he stopped doing that to be the general manager of the Diamondbacks, and now his wife and Dave are my co-agents, I suppose. They help me, and Dave was my mentor who taught me how to respect the game and be a professional.”
Cal’s goal after baseball was a very unique answer. It had the same effect in a way Samson Abernathy’s was, and that was to stay within the game somehow.
“I’ve had a relationship with a guy named Mike Sweeny. Mike was the first baseman for the Royals and had a great career. My dad had played baseball with him at Ontario high school back when they were kids. Mike was the special assistant to the GM, and I thought that was a really cool job to have. You get to travel around a bit and talk to the kids. That would be the best-case scenario, I suppose. Another cool job I would like to learn is maybe being an agent.”
Looking a bit towards the future, I wanted to know where Cal saw himself in three years time within baseball. “Be an everyday guy in the league. I want to be a contributor I want to do real things to help the team win once I make it to the show.”
You could tell that Cal had a quiet yet confident feel about him after he answered that question. If he wants to be an everyday contributor, he needs to carry that same confidence, which I’m sure he will have.
I wanted to get a feel for how much of a step up it was for Cal jumping straight into pro ball from high school and how much of a difference the speed was.
“I’d say the biggest step was the decision making at the plate. Obviously, in the lowest level of the minor leagues, the hitters aren’t as good as they’re going to be, and neither are the pitchers. The pitchers at that level come with some command issues. The biggest issue wasn’t high velocity. I’ve seen high velocity from the California showcases and Perfect Game, so it wasn’t the velocity it was the velocity mixed in with poor command that would throw me off.”
Every player past or present had players they saw growing up that made them fall in love with the game or at least inspired them in some way. “I always wanted to be like Kenny Lofton or Eric Davis I thought those guys were just ballers. Both of those guys were fast. I was never touted for my speed, but growing up, I always looked towards those guys. Both of those guys were African Americans. I don’t know what the percentages are, but there aren’t too many of us, So I always tried to look up to those guys.”
Over Cal’s career, his power numbers have increased gradually. Just last year, he hit 15 home runs, and his ISO numbers were .115. So I asked is this the type of player he wants to be?
“I want to be the guy that’s known for driving in runs. When I was 10 or 11, one of the bench coaches, Ruppert Jones, Ruppert was kind of a funny dude; he had a big mustache, and he said guys get paid to hit in runs. I stuck to that, so I would want to be in the middle of the order and be known for getting guys in. RBIs, for me, is the top priority. If I could finish with a million RBIs, that would be great for the team and me.”
Improvement is all apart of the game if you’re not trying to improve upon something you’re doing something wrong. Cal is working on a plethora of things, but the main thing is his quickness in the outfield.
“I don’t have bad top-end speed, but getting going is where I need to improve and be quick off the line. In my free time and in my garage and the hills, I’m running just to get a little faster.”
To stay within the constructs of working out and staying in shape, I wanted to know how he’s dealing with the shutdown and what he’s doing in his workouts.
“I have a few things here I was able to get at my local gym. I have a barbell, a few plates, some dumbbells, and a pull-up bar. The majority of the work I’ve been doing is at my local park, and I’ll do hill sprints until I get dizzy. This whole off-season I’ve been really wright heavy I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, but in my time now I’m trying to run a little bit more.”
With advanced metrics becoming the end all be all to some people, I wanted to know how much attention Cal pays towards this growing aspect to the game.
“That’s a bit of a tough spot for me. I can follow along with what they’re talking about, but when I’m talking to a hitting coach, I would rather be talking about how to have better vision in the box or how to read a pitchers tells rather than my hand position or my load. The only thing I’m thinking about when I’m playing is seeing the ball as best as I can.”
Cal’s hitting coach last year was Harold Wynegar or “Butch” to most people. Like every coach, I wanted to know what he thought Cal should be working on or improve.
“Butch was really adamant on getting me into a better hitting position, and at first, I was hesitant because I didn’t want to talk about that I wanted to talk about my eyes. He talked me into a few things because he had been a really good ballplayer for a lot of years. At the time, it really wasn’t the best for me because I came in mid-season, and I was trying to do my best at the time, and it’s hard to go through a big change. During the off-season, re-worked on some things, unfortunately, he was let go, but I wrote down along the course of the season, and I reworked my load a little bit, and it helped me get results during spring training this year.”
Cal felt confident about his spring training performance, and after sitting down with his leadership, he was told he’s fighting for a spot on the Double-A roster. According to Cal, he’s more comfortable in right field where he has played the majority of his time. But according to him, “I’ll play wherever they tell me to.” Now the selfish guy in me would love to see Cal play for Altoona in Double-A, where I can see him play more, but wherever he ends up, I’ll be sure to cheer him on and pray for nothing but success because god knows this team needs it.