There was nothing more terrible than watching Jared Mitchell rip up his ankle in a meaningless 2010 spring training game in Tempe.
Hobbling around, pre-surgery, had to be excruciating for him, even more than it was for all of us to watch.
But what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. That saying is an apt description of Jared Mitchell, circa 2012.
There are just certain athletes that emit a presence. It’s nothing tangible, just an aura about them that makes you sit up and take notice.
Watching and talking to Mitchell this past spring, I knew it wouldn’t take long for him to get to Chicago.
And why wouldn’t I think that? Mitchell was the Sox number one draft pick out of LSU in 2009. The guy was a two-sport star in baseball and football. At one time in 2010, Baseball America considered him the #1 prospect in the Sox organization.
His play this year with the Sox Double A team in Birmingham only solidifies his standing within the organization. Statistically, Mitchell is in the top 10 in 8 Southern League categories. One of those is triples, which Mitchell currently leads the league in, with 7.
But stats, though glamorous and fun for people that follow them, are hollow in the minor leagues. You don’t hear too many people championing the minor league stats of Paul Konerko. Mitchell knows that. Not saying he is not happy to be doing as well as he is, but he knows there are still quite a few adjustments he needs to make.
One of the things he doesn’t have to worry about is his health. The ankle injury, which cost him all of the 2010 season, is now a thing of the past. Yeah, it has to be talked about, but after being part of a conference call with him today, it is a dead issue. He made it crystal clear that he is 100% healthy.
One of the other guys on the line was from the Southsidesox. I think his name was Jim. Anyhow, he asked Mitchell about playing in Double A. I thought Mitchell gave an interesting answer when he said, “The game is faster, but it plays slower this year, because I’m not trying to do so much as I did one year after coming back from the ankle injury.” I guess that’s to be expected from a guy who never suffered an injury playing either sport, before the one he sustained on that awful 2010 day.
Mitchell mentioned that growing up he patterned his game after Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson. His play is very similar to those 2, minus the power numbers, which could, and should, come later. He also brought up how he liked the play of one Ken Griffey Jr., but every player in their early 20′s mentions The Kid.
I’m glad he didn’t mention John Kruk or Kevin Mitchell. Those 2 were great players, but if our Mitchell wanted to emulate one of those guys, the Sox might be nervous–haha.
Earlier I mentioned Mitchell’s stellar college career at LSU. I have always wondered if he missed playing football.
He said he missed the sport, especially on game days, but his sole focus is on baseball. He didn’t completely convince me. I think he truly wants to be a big league player, I just think there is a part of him, from time to time, that wants to strap it up. If they could find a way to eliminate practices, I think Mitchell might do just that.
Baseball is his love now, and if what I watched in spring training is a glimpse of he future, Sox fans will be very happy.
The man can run with the wind. During one exhibition game, on a ball that bounced off 2nd base, Mitchell hustled for a double. Mind, you, the 2nd baseman never even attempted a throw.
Who does Mitchell credit for his continuing success? None other than former MLB star Buddy Bell, the Sox VP, Player Development and Special Assignments. Mitchell has a great relationship with the former MLB star. Mitchell uses Bell as a sounding board from time to time. Bell, on the other hand, keeps the future star focused.
Right now, the 23 year old is not only focused on helping the Birmingham Barons win, but also getting to Chicago.
When that day comes, it’ll no doubt be a picture perfect day.