The Pirates entered the season with a lot of potential breakout prospects in West Virginia. Calvin Mitchell may have stepped up as the first guy to see that breakout. Mitchell put up some big numbers at the plate in April, hitting for a .364/.418/.625 line in 99 plate appearances, with three homers, eight doubles, and three triples. That was enough for him to be named the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month for April.
The Pirates drafted Mitchell in the second round last year out of high school, and in my early looks at him, he looked like a guy who probably should have gone in the first round. He’s got the potential for an impact bat, with a lot of raw power. He did struggle at times last year after a hot start in the GCL, eventually ending up with a .245/.351/.352 line in his pro debut.
In order for Mitchell to have a true breakout season, he will need to avoid that slump this year. There will probably be some regression. He’s showing some positive signs with a 22.2% strikeout rate, which isn’t bad for a power hitter, and an 8.1% walk rate. But his .453 BABIP won’t be sustained. What that means is that he probably won’t repeat the monster month we just saw, although he could still have good numbers without that BABIP.
A big factor for Mitchell is that his power is showing up. He’s got a .261 ISO, which is a result of hitting not just home runs, but hitting for extra base hits. Tom Bragg wrote about some of the adjustments Mitchell has been working on to lead to these results. As long as the power, walk, and strikeout rates remain at good levels, Mitchell should be in line for a good season, and might be seen as a true breakout prospect by the end of the year.
PLAYERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Jose Osuna, 3B (.361/.412/.656, 69 PA, 3 HR)
Altoona – Jason Martin, OF (.274/.348/.500, 71 PA, 1 HR)
Bradenton – Alfredo Reyes, 2B (.306/.386/.435, 71 PA, 2 HR)
West Virginia – Calvin Mitchell, OF (.364/.418/.625, 99 PA, 3 HR)