The Chicago White Sox and Marty Maloney are kind enough to regularly reach out to the White Sox blogosphere and organize for a conference call interview with an individual of interest. This month, we had the pleasure of chatting with White Sox prospect and current center fielder for the AA affiliate Birmingham Barons, Jared Mitchell. Thanks to Marty, for setting it up, Jared Mitchell for participating and extra thanks to Mark Primano of South Side Sox for transcribing the full interview which is available for your perusal.
If you’ve followed Jared’s path since being drafted in the first round by the White Sox out of LSU in the 2009 draft, you know he entered the system with some lofty expectations. He suffered a setback in spring training 2010 when he injured his ankle making a play in the outfield which required surgery that resulted in him missing the entire season. 2011 was a bit of a struggle as he returned to action but so far in 2012 Jared is putting up quality numbers with the Barons and getting back on the radar as a serious prospect.
Mark Primano started the call lightly, by thanking Mitchell for not signing with the Twins when originally drafted in 2006. Chuckles all around and that mood held; Mitchell was as relaxed and free with his answers as one could hope for.
Jim Margalus (South Side Sox): Is it safe to say you are 100% healthy.
Mitchell: Yes, definitely.
Margalus: When would you say you were finally able to get over the physical handicap of the ankle injury and any kind of mental edge you lost having to wonder about the ankle.
Mitchell: Honestly? I think it was some time over the offseason. I finally felt around 100% healthy around November. You’re only really able to play and be 100% yourself when you’re 100% healthy. When you’re 100% healthy, it kind of frees your mind up to everything else and lets you focus on the task at hand.
James Fegan (Southside Showdown & White Sox Observer): Where you surprised with your promotion to Birmingham at the start of the year?
Mitchell: I think it came down a lot to my mental makeup. They know what kind of person I am in the organization and me being finally healthy and looking like myself again is what probably made the decision for them. I wouldn’t say I was surprised. I feel like I can compete on this level and levels above this, but they make the decisions and I just go with them.
Bill (White Sox Gap): How much did your impressive spring training help get you to where you’re at right now?
Mitchell: It helps, don’t get me wrong. It propels you to where you want to be, but spring training is spring training. When the season starts it’s a whole new ballgame. For me I was able to get healthy in the offseason and find some confidence back and just work at it from there.
Bill: How close do you feel you are to being in the big leagues?
Mitchell: To be honest with you, I really don’t know. There’s a really good group of guys up there and you never know what could happen or just what they’re looking for. My main concern every day is to come out here and get better every day and be a good team player here. I’ve got to let the chips fall where they may.
Margalus: Given the year that you had last year and that the Sox threw a lot at you, both with the ankle injury and starting you at a new level, how do you separate progress from stats?
Mitchell: That’s the biggest challenge in the minors. Everything is about progress and not so much about your stats. For me or anyone else, the biggest thing I was able to do this year was not make everything try to come so quick and be able to go home at the end of the day and look at myself in the mirror and say “I’m making progress.” It may or may not show up the stats, but the biggest thing is to know that you’re making the progress. The stats will come when everything comes together, but you can’t sit there and worry about the stats.
Matt Adams: With the time that you missed, do you find yourself trying to make up for lost time or were you able to reset the timeline in your head?
Mitchell: Last year I think I subconsciously sat there and tried to make up for lost time and you can put yourself in a big hole trying to do that. In the offseason I was able to kind of clear my mind and get into the mindset where I was like “Go out there and do what you can every day. Don’t worry about anything. Whatever happens, happens and I’m gonna make it work.” That’s where I’m at now and I don’t worry about where I should be or what could have been. If I just keep playing every day, great things will happen.
Margalus: Whose game do you see yours resembling the most?
Mitchell: There’s players I like to watch, but I don’t know if I exactly play like them. I was a big fan of watching Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson play. Was a huge fan of Ken Griffey Jr. growing up. You take little things from everyone here and there but at the end of the day I’m Jared Mitchell and I’m going to try and be me, not anyone else. That’s just how I look at it.
James Fegan: You only attempted 20 stolen bases last year and that was a big part of your game coming into the league. Is that something you’re trying to reemphasize this season?
Mitchell: Definitely. The speed is there so why not play with it? It helps put a lot more pressure on the defense so I really want that to be a part of my game again.