With the 25th pick in the 1st round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Mike Trout. Sure, Angels fans remember that as the moment they seized one of the greatest all-around players that the game has seen in quite some time. But does anyone remember who the Chicago White Sox selected just two picks earlier with the 23rd pick? That would be LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell.
As I write this article nearly five years after that draft took place, Mitchell is still yet to achieve his first promotion to the big leagues. The Sox were evidently once very high on the lefty outfielder, given his alleged combination of speed and power coming out of college. But Mitchell’s minor league career in the Sox farm system has been nothing but a failure and a disappointment which leads me to address this question – is it time for the Sox to cut their losses with him?
After a brief, 34-game stint of rookie ball in 2009, Mitchell missed the entire 2010 season with an ankle injury. Mitchell returned in 2011 to play a full season at the A level, but hit just .222. In 2012, Mitchell was placed in AA to start the season where he hit .240 in 94 games. He finished the 2012 season in AAA, and predictably struggled just as much, hitting .231 in 36 games.
Just when it looked as if things couldn’t get much worse for Mitchell, things got every bit worse in 2013. The White Sox placed Mitchell in AAA to start the 2013 season, but it only took him 14 games and a .132 batting average to be demoted back to AA. Mitchell remained in AA for the rest of 2013 and showed no signs of improvement with a .174 batting average in 74 games.
In four seasons wandering around the Sox farm system, Mitchell has hit a combined .221 in 383 games. There is absolutely nothing about Mitchell’s statistics that suggests that he will ever be able to become even a decent hitter at the Major League level. Not only is Mitchell not hitting for average, he is also striking out at an alarming rate. Mitchell has 525 strikeouts in 1585 plate appearances in his minor league career. That pencils out to about one strikeout every three trips to the dish. You can live with strikeouts as long as they come with good power numbers, though, right? Sure, but Mitchell also owns just 25 career home runs in the minors.
If Mitchell doesn’t somehow turn things around in 2014, the White Sox should cut their ties with him. Granted, he isn’t taking up a roster spot at the Major League level, and I understand that minor league baseball players come and go like Taco Bell $5 Buck Box variations. I also understand that every team has its Cinderella story of the player who spent nearly a decade in the minors only to finally get the call to the big leagues and make a world of difference for his team. The White Sox version of that player came in 2008 with Dewayne Wise, but Wise hit over 40 points higher in the minors than Mitchell and didn’t strike out nearly as much as Mitchell does.
My point is simple – if Mitchell can’t post even decent numbers in the minor leagues after five seasons, there is absolutely no reason to expect him to have any kind of success in a White Sox uniform. With Mitchell and his .221 batting average out of the picture in the Sox farm system, that means one roster spot in the minors will open up. Perhaps that one roster spot could end up belonging to someone with a lot more promise than Mitchell has shown. As of right now, the mere possibility of developing a nameless player seems like a better option for the White Sox.