Pittsburgh Pirates Minors Spotlight: Outfielder Cal Mitchell

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Outfield prospect Cal Mitchell has as much raw ability as any player that the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their talented farm system

With the 50th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected outfielder Cal Mitchell. Mitchell was selected out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego. When he was drafted Mitchell was committed to play college baseball at the University of San Diego. However, a $1.4 million signing bonus from the Pirates was enough to get Mitchell to forgo this commitment and turn pro.

FanGrpahs ranks Mitchell as the 14th best prospect that the Pittsburgh Pirates have. This is saying something as FanGraphs ranks the Pirate farm system as the 4th best in all of baseball. It is not easy to rank as a top 15 prospect in a top 5 farm system.

Mitchell debuted in 2017 with the GCL Pirates. In the GCL, Mitchell hit for a .245/.351/.352 slash line to go with a 104 wRC+. He walked at a strong 13.0% and he did this while limiting strikeouts, as he struckout at just an 18.9% rate.

In 2018 Mitchell moved up to the Low-A level and put together his best professional season. The right-handed hitting Mitchell hit for a .280/.344/.427 slash line to go with a 120 wRC+. He walked 8.3% of the time and struckout 22.0% of the time, but his isolated power (ISO) rose from .107 in the GCL to .147.

A climbing ISO continued to be a trend for Mitchell when he reached the High-A level in 2019. His ISO rose to .155, to go with a .251/.304/.406 slash line and a 110 wRC+. Mitchell also hit a career high 15 home runs, to go with a career best 9.5% extra base hit rate.

However, his walk rate dipped ot 6.5% while his strikeout rate ballooned to a concerning 28.8%. That said, his rise in power at the High-A level made the increase in strikeout rate less of an issue.

Entering the 2020 season Mitchell appeared primed to make the jump to the Double-A Altoona Curve. Unfortunately, with the 2020 minor league season being cancelled this did not happen. So, look for Mitchell to make his long awaited Double-A debut during the 2021 season.

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FanGraphs give Mitchell’s raw power a future value of 45, his speed and fielding a FV of 40 and his arm a FV of 45. Mitchell has the tools needed to be a very good MLB outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, making him a prospect that fans should be keeping an eye on as he makes his Double-A debut in 2021.