Mitchell makes mark on White Sox
Top Draft pick shows skills before being sent to Minors camp
PHOENIX -- Jared Mitchell didn't expect to make the White Sox Opening Day roster out of this first big league camp with the team.
But the franchise's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft needed only three weeks to leave a lasting impression that his Major League time is not too far away.
"He has a lot of talent. He's a very humble kid, a very nice kid," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Mitchell, who joined catchers Miguel Gonzalez and Josh Phegley as the first three players to be reassigned to Minor League camp prior to Wednesday's Cactus League contest.
"We play him a little while, and all the baseball instincts are there with three months of pro ball," Guillen said. "He doesn't have an ego about being a first-round pick. He handles it real well. He's a hard worker. He's better than what I thought."
Mitchell, 21, hit .296 in just 34 games last year for Class A Kannapolis and carried over that success on offense to Arizona. The left-handed hitter, who ranks near the top in the speed category among White Sox prospects, had four hits in nine at-bats in three Cactus League games, while scoring four runs and driving in four. He added two hits in six at-bats in "B" games, with two stolen bases.
On Monday, Mitchell started in the morning "B" game and then saw action in the regularly scheduled contest against the Mariners at Camelback Ranch. So, the White Sox definitely presented Mitchell chances to show his raw talent.
The White Sox also put Mitchell's Camelback Ranch clubhouse locker next to Juan Pierre, so Pierre could impart some of his leadoff wisdom on Mitchell, just as Lance Johnson had done for Pierre earlier in his career. Mitchell did not bat leadoff for LSU, but believes that lineup spot will fit him as a big leaguer.
This first camp for Mitchell certainly was not without flaws to be corrected. Hitting coach Greg Walker pointed out how Mitchell does things with his legs on the swing that have to be cleaned up to create more consistency. But in the same conversation, Walker added how the team likes Mitchell's talent level and believes the potential is there.
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Guillen stressed to Mitchell that he needs to focus on his game and not worry about hitting the long ball in a Wednesday morning discussion, before the White Sox reduced their number of players in camp to 52.
"I said, 'Don't think baseball is this easy.' I have a very easy camp, but when you go to the Minors, that is when the real thing starts," said Guillen of Mitchell, who figures to start the season with Double-A Birmingham. "Some people, when they come to pro ball, they start focusing on hitting home runs and forget about using their legs. I reminded him to try to get on base, use his legs and the power will come up. But I feel good about him."
Mitchell feels just as good about working under Guillen's aggressive style of managing. It's a natural fit, in his mind.
"Definitely, I love it," said Mitchell of Guillen. "He doesn't hold you back. He lets you go.
"If you make a mistake going hard, he doesn't mind it at all. It's all you can ask for as a player. Play the game hard and things work out."
With Wednesday's moves, the White Sox have 27 pitchers in Major League camp, five catchers, 11 infielders and nine outfielders.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.