Bryan Mitchell was drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 draft as an 18 year old high school pitcher. When he was first drafted few thought he would ever be an elite prospect. He began to change some minds when coaches and scouts were able to get a closer look and it started to look like the Yanks got a steal in the 16th round. When he was drafted they knew he had a power arm with solid curve, but he didn’t have a consistent third pitch. He struggled with command and control. At instructs his first year he really opened some eyes. He came in throwing both a four seam fastball and two seam fastball with great sink and flashed a plus curve ball which advanced his standing as a prospect in a major way.
Mitchell came into the 2010 season throwing even better. He added a hard change to his arsenal, and had an uptick in his fastball velocity. His already solid curve ball had developed into a true plus pitch. The changeup was still a work in progress, but armed with a new grip he started to get far more comfortable with it. He started eight games in the GCL. The first four were rough but he showed just how dominant he can be in the last four starts. He only allowed two runs, five hits while striking out 19 in his final 18 innings of the season.
They decided to keep him in short season ball for 2011 so he could continue to develop before being sent to full season ball. It was a tale of two halves. He posted an 8.16 ERA in his first four starts, but a 1.32 ERA in his last six . According to his coaches he had further improved his already plus curve ball and showed improvement to his new changeup. At this point he had a plus grade with both his fastballs, a plus curve ball and an above average change up. Coaches compared his curve ball to our long lost friend Arodys Vizcaino. Hopefully his elbow doesn’t blow out like Vizcaino’s did.
Coming into the 2011 season Mitchell added some weight jumping from 175-pounds to 195-pounds. Unsurprisingly he added another couple ticks to his velo as a result of the weight gain. His other stuff remained relatively static. The main challenge Mitchell faced in 2011 was repeating his delivery, his mechanics, and his release point. He did lead the team in strikeouts and posted a solid ERA of 4.09, having his best outings in July and August. Oddly enough he discovered that his delivery was better with all of his pitches when he threw his change up more often. While Mitchell struggled with inconsistency, he was nearly unhittable towards the end of the season.
This off-season Mitchell was rated as high as the #8 prospect in the Yankee organization. His stuff is so good it’s hard to rank him much lower at this point. His repertoire was rated third best in the system behind only Banuelos and Betances. The curve ball was second best behind Banuelos, and the fastball second behind Betances.
His four seam fastball sits in the 93-96 touching 97 with a solid sinking action, his two seam sits 92-94 with great action on it. Both are plus pitches. His plus plus hammer curve ball sits in the 78-82 range and has true 12-6 breaking action. He is comfortable throwing it in any count and it is a dominant pitch that generates swings and misses. He throws a power change up in the 84-87 range. It can be devastating when he commands it. The changeup now has awesome depth and fade. It will be another plus pitch if he can learn to consistently command it.
No one will ever accuse Bryan Mitchell of lacking the stuff to be a major league starter. He struggles to control and harness that stuff at times, but he has the pitches to get back in the count when he falls behind. With his competitive nature, he can be his own worst enemy when he struggles. It often leads to inconsistency in his delivery which can end in major blow ups for him. Limiting those types of outings will be key in the success of this young prospect. The early results from this season have shown improvement. He has a 2.40 ERA so far, with 52 K in 48.2 innings. His season thus far has been highlighted by three stellar performances with eight, nine, and 10 strikeouts. He hasn’t yet figured out how to completely avoid walks, as he has given up 25 free passes already.
Mitchell’s ceiling is through the roof. He can certainly be a front of the rotation starter if he figures it all out. I believe there is a strong chance he will. At 6-foot-2, 195-pounds he has the size to make it in the major leagues as well.
His floor is pretty low though. There’s an outside chance that he flames out. He’s still just a 21 year old in Low-A and has a long way to go, but he has a solid chance of being called up to High-A by season’s end.
His estimated time of arrival depends on consistency with his command and delivery. If he figures it all out he could fly through the system and maybe see an August call up in 2014, but 2015 seems a more likely time frame. He is another extremely promising arm to keep an eye on in the future.