With the big league pitching staff under performing, the New York Yankees front office has been forced to shake things up. In the upheaval, minor league starter D.J. Mitchell finds himself added to the 25-man roster for the first time in his four-year pro career.
Mitchell, who was omitted from the Yankees pre-season Top 15 prospect list, was out-performing – and earned the promotion over – fellow prospects Dellin Betances (ranked third) and Adam Warren (14th) at triple-A. Rookie hurler David Phelps (12th) was pitching well enough in the big league bullpen to earn a shot at replacing disappointing veteran Freddy Garcia in the starting rotation.
Mitchell was originally selected in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Clemson University. Interestingly, the right-hander began his college career as an outfielder and did not focus on pitching until his final year of school. Despite the late position switch Mitchell has moved through the Yankees system at a brisk pace and has now spent parts of three seasons in triple-A.
The soon-to-be-25-year-old made four starts in 2012 and gave up just 13 hits in 23.0 innings of work. He walked seven and struck out 21. Right-handers were hitting just .136 against him compared to lefties at .214. Mitchell worked more than 160 innings at triple-A in 2011 so he has the ability to provide a lot of innings out of the big league bullpen if needed. The move to the ‘pen might help the athletic pitcher’s stuff play up a bit. His fastball currently sits in the 87-91 mph range and he also features a decent slider and changeup. He has average control. At just 6’0” and with a slender frame, the North Carolina native has been long considered a future reliever at the big league level.
How long Mitchell sticks in New York naturally depends on his results, as well as the success of those around him. If the pitchers in the starting rotation continue to struggle – and there is no reason to expect that they will long term – then even more drastic measures may have to be taken. Who knows, perhaps even Mitchell will receive a shot at the starting rotation before the season ends.