If you happened to watch the Yankees vs. Orioles Friday night, you were introduced to a pitcher – right-hander Bryan Mitchell – who is important to the Yankees’ future.
His performance Friday was acceptable – 5 innings pitched, 6 hits allowed, 2 earned runs allowed, 2 strikeouts, 2 walks. His command could have been a bit better, as he threw 84 pitches, just 48 for strikes.
Overall, it’s tough to argue Mitchell’s first Yankees start was nothing less than solid.
“Can Mitchell’s stuff play in the majors as a starter? Absolutely,” said a veteran scout from a National League team. The Yankees know it as well, ever since the North Carolina native was selected in the 16th round of the 2009 draft and signed by scout Scott Lovekamp.
He has his ups-and-downs since the Yankees signed him, even during the 2014 season, in which he went 2-5, 4.84 in 14 appearances (13 starts) with Double-A Trenton and 4-2, 3.57 in nine appearances (eight starts) with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In fact, his minor-league mark in five seasons in 22-34, 4.45 in 102 appearances (97 starts).
Over the years, Mitchell, as he has tried to harness his stuff, has shown outstanding potential with often frustrating results. There is evidence it is all coming together based on what was seen in Trenton during a three-start period in 2013.
Mitchell put together three starts, 18.2 innings for Trenton in August, 2013, that were eye-popping. His ERA for the trio of efforts was 1.93. He allowed four earned runs and had a strikeout/walk ratio of 16-5.
His fastball sat at 94 and reached 97 with movement. He flashed a curve in the 86-88 range – that was evident Friday night – and a change that is developing. He outpitched Nate Karns and Matt Barnes, who are also in the majors now.
“He’s got the stuff, but like all young guys, Bryan has to put it together,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “He’ll get that as he pitches more at higher levels.”
Right now, what would it hurt to give Mitchell a few more starts before the season ends? He certainly can be a rotation option for the future. Chris Capuano is great guy who has had a great career, but he’s not the future.
“Bryan has special stuff,” added Franklin. “He just has to harness it.”
Since last year, Mitchell has improved at repeating his delivery, throwing from a consistent relief point and not trying to overthrow when he finds himself in a jam. He does not nibble and has no problems pitching to contact.
Some scouts have compared his package to that of A.J. Burnett, which, to a Yankees fan, carries its own set of entails, but, with a developing change, it could be more of that.
There are those who feel Mitchell’s future is in the bullpen. Top relievers are often made of minor-league starters, but that’s not the feeling here. He has the type of power arm that can help a rotation for many years. He’s only 23.
Given his effort Friday night, Mitchell is not that far away from being consistent, The entire package, when everything is working, is tantalizing. The power, moving fastball mixed with the power dipping curve and a developing change.
That’s starter’s stuff.