Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Cal Mitchell Bouncing Back

Outfielder Cal Mitchell is a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect who often times gets overlooked, but he is off to a strong start at Double-A this season

Entering the 2019 season it appeared that Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Cal Mitchell was on his way to shooting up prospect boards. The 50th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft was coming off a strong 2018 season and was flashing potential five-tool prowess.

During the 2019 season Mitchell played 118 games at the High-A level, accumulating 493 plate appearances. In these 493 PAs Mitchell hit for a .251/.304/.406 slash line to go with a 6.5% walk rate, 28.8% strikeout rate and a wRC+ of 110.

While Mitchell’s 110 wRC+ was 10 points higher than the league average he struggled to hit for power, slugging just .406 to go with an isolated power (ISO) of .155 and an extra base hit rate of just 7.7%. Additionally, his strikeout rate was concerning to go with a walk rate that dropped 2% from the previous season.

Despite his struggles in 2019 and not playing in 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates still decided to have Mitchell start the season at the Double-A level. In his first taste of Double-A pitching Mitchell is excelling and putting together a terrific bounce back season.

Entering play on Sunday the left-handed hitting Mitchell was hitting for a .283/.345/.465 slash line with the Curve, to go with a 119 wRC+. Mitchell has also seen an improvement in power with a .181 ISO and an extra base hit rate of 10%. All of these has come in 143 PAs.

Mitchell continued his strong start to the season in Sunday’s 6-4 Curve loss. Despite Altoona coming up short on Father’s Day he was 2-for-4 with a RBI, raising his OPS on the season to .823 to go with 21 RBI.

FanGraphs ranks Mitchell as the Pittsburgh Pirates 24th best prospect. His speed and fielding tools both have a future value of 40, to go with a raw power future value of 45. Mitchell’s overall future value by FanGraphs is 40+.

Even though Mitchell did not climb prospect boards the way he appeared primed to do so entering the 2019 season, with his performance thus far in 2021 this climb could occur. When mid-season rankings begin to be released next month look for Mitchell to be one of the biggest climbers in the Pirate farm system.

At 22-years-old, Mitchell could find himself at the Triple-A level before the end of the season. With the Pirate outfield situation being one with no clear cut answers outside of Bryan Reynolds, reaching Triple-A by the end of the season could put Mitchell in a position to make his MLB debut during the 2022 season. He could also be a player that’s presented with an opportunity due to Travis Swaggerty’s injury as this could help open the door for Mitchell both at the Triple-A level this season, as well as to put himself in a position to make an impact with the Pirates in 2022.