D.J. Mitchell, Starting Pitcher
Ranked #24 Yankee Prospect
D.J. Mitchell is probably not going to be a starter on the New York Yankees. There are a few reasons to believe he might make a breakthrough, which I will go into later, but chances are we’re talking about Mitchell as a reliever, not a starter. That’s why I struggled to rate him as high as #24 overall. I think that he will end up being a pretty decent reliever for the Yankees, but he could very well wind up starting for the Pirates too.
Mitchell is a sinker/changeup pitcher. He throws a very strong 89-91 mph sinker and a great changeup. He doesn’t have a good enough breaking pitch to throw much in the majors. He also has a four-seamer that is slightly faster, but its not his primary pitch. He was converted in college to starting pitching just four years ago, and has moved remarkably fast since then. He has struggled against left-handed batters throughout the minor leagues. His control has been poor, both in terms of walks and wild pitches. He makes up for it with a very strong ground ball rate – 1.95 GO/AO in 2010, 2.89 in 2009.
I think that Mitchell will work out very well in the bullpen. He will be protected from left-handed batters. His four-seam fastball, currently a 91-92 mph pitch, could become a bit more effective. And more importantly, he won’t be punished as much for the lack of a breaking ball. His biggest problem has always been the lack of a put-away pitch. In the bullpen, this will be less of a problem. He’ll be called upon more than a few times to get a double play in a big spot, and should be able to pitch multiple innings. Mariano Rivera he will not be, but he could be pretty good, in the mold of Paul Quantrill.
The conversion should come soon. The Scranton rotation, depending on how a few moving parts turn, does not look like it will necessarily have room for Mitchell next season. Like they did with Ryan Pope, the Yankees should start his conversion and hope for the best. They have plenty of depth starting pitchers, and Mitchell doesn’t hold a lot of promise in that sense in the majors. And they could always convert him back at a moments notice, if necessary.
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