Mitchell off to great start in Birmingham

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Mitchell off to great start in Birmingham

2012 is the most important year of Jared Mitchell's career. A good year, and he's back on the prospect track the Sox set him on in 2009. A bad year, and he'll be slapped with a first-round bust label.

Last year was a major step backward for Mitchell, who missed nearly all of 2010 following a devastating ankle injury in spring training. For a player as raw as Mitchell, missing a year was extremely costly -- as evidenced by his 183 strikeouts and .304 on-base percentage in 129 games last season.

But Mitchell has shown signs of life early on into 2012. He posted a .387 OBP in 30 spring-training at-bats, although his 121 strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't ideal. But most importantly, Mitchell looked like he fully trusted his surgically-repaired ankle for the first time in two years.

Mitchell's success has carried over into Double-A, which is promising given the organization's aggressive placement of him in Birmingham. He has a .433 OBP through 60 plate appearances, but even more encouraging is his 1611 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Yes, he's still striking out at a high rate -- that may never be fixed -- but he's getting on base and hitting the ball hard (three doubles, three triples) and has stolen three bases.

Sixty trips to the plate hardly is enough to make a determination about Mitchell. And even if you add in his 31 spring plate appearances, that's still not enough to say he's definitely back on the prospect track.

But the results, and the way Mitchell's gone about them, are at least encouraging. And for a farm system starved for promising prospects, it's a welcome sight.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Winter meetings trades for Cubs and White Sox

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score) and David Schuster (670 The Score) joined David Kaplan on the SportsTalk Live panel for Thursday's show.

Baseball’s winter meetings are over. Could Rick Hahn have done more this week? Plus which closer will have a better season- current Cubs closer Wade Davis or former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman?

How much upheaval will there be on the Bears’ coaching staff this offseason? Plus are the Bulls in slump or are we finally seeing the real team show up?

Listen to this episode of the SportsTalk Live podcast here:

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The White Sox have a pair of relievers to dangle and have become increasingly busier with two of three free-agent closers off the board.

Prior to leaving the Winter Meetings on Thursday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was asked if a pool of relievers including closer David Robertson and setup man Nate Jones had drawn much interest.

Having already traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, it’s believed the White Sox are willing to part with most anyone if the price is right. It sounds as if that possibility has improved after the Yankees’ late night signing of Aroldis Chapman on Wednesday, two days after the San Francisco Giants signed Mark Melancon. With only Kenley Jansen still left in free agency and due a big salary, Robertson, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, could solve several teams’ relief needs. Jones is also a draw with potentially five years left on his current team-friendly deal, which includes two club options and one mutual option for 2021.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations on a number of different fronts involving are players,” Hahn said. “And yes, we still have reliever pieces and starting pieces that are appealing to various teams throughout the league. I don’t think anything is going to happen between now and the time I go pick up my bags and head to the airport. But still thoroughly engaged, deeply engaged on a number of different fronts.”

Despite adding five pitchers and two position players through their first two moves, the White Sox still have a long list of desires. That list potentially includes a long-term starting catcher and another big bat among others.