Thursday, May 3, 2012

Welcome to Yankee Stadium: DJ Mitchell

DJ Mitchell was called up to the big league squad this past week.  He made his major league debut on May 1st against the Orioles, going 1 scoreless innings, and striking out 2.

Mitchell was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Clemson University.  He stands 6' tall, weights 160 pounds, and is a right handed starting pitcher.  However, on this Yankees team he will be slotted in the long relief role.

After being drafted he was sent to Low A, Charleston RiverDogs to start the 2009 season.  He had a great stay in Charleston.  There he made 6 starts, going 4-1 with a stellar 1.95 ERA in 37 innings.  He also had 42 strikeouts to only 6 walks, a very impressive K:BB ratio.  After this start he was promoted to High A, Tampa for the remainder of the season.  There he made 19 appearances, 18 starts, and went 8-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 103.1 innings.  He struck out 83 and walked 38 which was not as good as his RiverDog K:BB ratio but still not bad.

To start the 2010 season he was sent to the Double A, Trenton Thunder.  There he made 23 appearances, 22 starts, and went 11-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 133 innings.  He had 96 strikeouts and 57 walks, for a much less impressive K:BB ratio.  He was named to the Double AA, mid season, All-Star team.  He was then promoted to Triple A, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the end of this season.  He made three starts there, going 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA in 17.2 innings. He had a 16:7 K:BB ratio in that stop.

With nowhere to go but the majors, he spent the 2011 season back in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  There he made 28 appearances, 24 starts, going 13-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 161.1 innings.  He had a 112:63, K:BB ratio which is a little troubling.

This season he again started in Triple A.  In four starts he has gone 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 23 innings.  He improved his K:BB ratio with 21 strikeouts to 7 walks before being called up.

The one thing that really stands out to me about Mitchell is the inning load that he has been able to handle since being drafted.  He has been over 130 innings each season and topped 160 last year.  That bodes well for his transition into the majors as a starter if he is ever given the opportunity.

Going forward, it is tough to see exactly how Mitchell will fit into the Yankees plans.  With Pettitte about to make it back to the major, he could very well take Mitchell's spot on the 25 man roster.  This means Mitchell spending the rest of the season at Triple A, barring an injury to a Yankees pitcher.  Going past this season, it is very unclear how Mitchell fits into the Yankees long term plans.  He is not as highly regarded as some of the other Yankees prospects so he will have to prove he belongs.  I could see the Yankees giving him some time in the majors to show him off to other teams and then possibly trading him.  However, with all the injury and inefficiency problems the Yankees are currently having with their rotation he could end up being a very valuable piece in the Yankees pitching staff going forward.

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