First, the latest on TANKATHON2020: after falling to 7th position last week, getting swept by the Yankees has slid the Mariners back into 6th position for now. The Blue Jays, one slot below (above?) the Mariners, have the Astros and Braves up next, but the Pirates, one slot behind (ahead of?) the Mariners, have a flailing Rockies team followed by the hapless Marlins, so it seems like things will hold steady for now.
This is the 10th installment in this series and we still have plenty of interesting names to go, so it seems like it won’t much matter if it’s the fifth or sixth or seventh slot; somebody fun is going to become a Mariner in 2020. Catch up with the names covered so far, as well as general 2020 draft coverage, here:
Today we’ll be heading back to the college ranks to look at another outfielder, UCLA lefty hitter Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell was the highest-ranked player to make it to the PAC-12 out of his draft class, as his stock slipped due to concerns about his consistency at the plate and his ability to tap into his raw power. There were also whispers of concerns over how Mitchell, a Type 1 diabetic, would handle the rigors of a full professional season. (The Mariners, for their part, would be equipped to handle this; former Mariners Mark Lowe and Brandon Morrow are both Type 1 diabetics. As are plenty of other players.)
The thing to know about Mitchell is he is super-toolsy. He’s got plus-plus speed, a plus glove, and plus raw power. Mitchell’s speed shows up in the absurd number of triples he hit this year—12, just two fewer than the number of doubles he hit on the season. That number led the NCAA this season.
⚠️ WARNING: Garrett Mitchell is dangerous.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) May 19, 2019
The @UCLABaseball sophomore records an RBI-triple for the Bruins' second run of the game.
Watch #Pac12BSB live on Pac-12 Now. https://t.co/hosB4CJJSQ pic.twitter.com/kQ240Ucww0
Defensively, Mitchell is a force as well; he was a finalist this year for the Gold Glove award after posting a perfect fielding percentage.
Not in our house.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 23, 2018
Garrett Mitchell saved a run with this catch for @UCLABaseball. The Bruins swept USC over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/c6FDIQN2By
After a fairly pedestrian freshman year (.280/.337/.331), Mitchell exploded as a sophomore, raising his slash line to .349/.418/.556. His slugging percentage rose so sharply thanks to a steep increase in home runs (to 6 from, well, zero), but he also lifted his doubles and triples into double-digits. Mitchell’s plate discipline numbers also improved, as he walked slightly more, pushing his walk percentage to double digits, and more encouragingly, shaved almost ten percent off his strikeout rate, from an alarming 25% to an elite 15.5%. His totals rose across the board, though, with his fielding percentage rising to a perfect 1.000 and 18 swiped bags compared to just five the previous season (albeit in 100 fewer plate appearances). It was an important statement year for Mitchell, as the same questions about his bat that pushed him to the 14th round out of Orange HS in the 2017 draft seemed to trail behind him his first year at UCLA. With a solid junior campaign, Mitchell can solidify his position as a top-10 draft choice.
Mitchell was set to spend the summer playing for Team USA, where he showed off his elite speed at team practice:
Returned to NC this morning and popped over to Cary to take a peek at the @USABaseballCNT. OF Garrett Mitchell (UCLA) had a bunt single. I've done this one several times and keep getting 3.6ish. pic.twitter.com/I1bMRjPgEF— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) June 30, 2019
Unfortunately, a foot injury sidelined Mitchell in early July and he had to take the remainder of the summer off. When he’s back and at full strength for the Bruins this spring, he’ll be one of the most interesting players to watch in all of college baseball. If he can repeat his 2019—not even improve on, just maintain—he has a legitimate shot at being the top college position player selected in the draft.