William Douglas Mitchell, or D.J. Mitchell, 23, is a right handed pitcher listed at 6-2 and 165-pounds. He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he went to North Forsyth High School. He was actually a center fielder in high school and did not pitch.
After graduating Mitchell went to Clemson University his freshman year he was primarily a right fielder, but he did pitch in nine games. In 16 innings he had a 2.25 ERA, a 9.00 K/9, and a 4.5 BB/9. In 51 games as an outfielder he, hit .289 with a .691 OPS.
He began to transition more to the mound as a sophomore. He appeared in 15 games, seven as a starter, over 52 innings he had a 3.27 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP, a 8.43 K/9, and a 2.75 BB/9. He played in just 42 games as an outfielder and hit just .208.
In his junior year, 2008, Mitchell appeared in just seven games in the outfield as he pretty much became a full time pitcher appearing in 20 games, 14 starts. In that time he had a 3.47 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP, a 9.67 K/9, and a 3.65 BB/9.
After that season he was drafted by the Yankees in the 10th round of the amateur draft and signed for $400,000.
Mitchell signed late and did not pitch for any farm team in 2008. Instead he went to instructs at the end of the year and even played a little in the Dominican.
In 2009 he started the season at Low-A Charleston where he pitched in just 6 games. In 37 innings there he had a 1.95 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, a 10.2 K/9, and a 1.5 BB/9. That earned him a quick promotion to High-A Tampa where he finished the season. In 19 games and 103.1 innings there he put up a 2.87 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, a 7.2 K/9, and a 3.3 BB/9.
In 2010 he started the season in Double-A Trenton, but didn’t nearly have the same success there. In 23 games and 133 innings he put up a 4.06 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP, a 6.5 K/9, and a 3.9 BB/9. He received a promotion to Triple-A at the end of the season and in a small sample size his numbers did increase somewhat. In three starts he threw 17.2 innings with a 3.57 ERA, a 1.47 WHIP, an 8.2 K/9, and a 3.6 BB/9.
Mitchell’s go to pitch is his sinker. He throws it in the 90-93 mph range with a ton of sink to it. He throws it early in counts and because it sinks so much he can also use it as a strikeout pitch. He’s like Chien-Ming Wang with less speed on his sinker, but more sink. So while it isn’t as powerful, he gets more swings and misses.
He also throws a four seam fastball that he can get up to 94 mph with, but is more of just a show me type pitch. His next best pitch is his curveball which has become an impressive strikeout pitch as well. He also has a changeup, but that is still a work in progress.
To say 2011 will be a big year for Mitchell is an understatement. He’ll start the season in Triple-A and with the situation of the Yankees pitching rotation he could be on his way to the Bronx in no time. The thing is though he still needs to work on some things. He needs to refine his command and get his BB/9 down from where it was last year.
That brings us to his ceiling. Which is probably of a no. 3 starter. If he can improve his command and polish off his changeup then he can potentially reach that ceiling. If not then he profiles more of a middle reliever.
A bad season in 2011 won’t kill his potential, but it will hurt it. Think back to Zach McAllister a year ago. McAllister could still end up being a decent pitcher, but a bad year last year took away his prospect status and the Yankees dealt him for Austin Kearns at the July deadline. If Mitchell has a poor season it could mean a similar fate. If he has a good season it could mean he’s in the Yankees rotation by the end of the season.