White Sox: Majors not on Mitchell's mind just yet

White Sox: Majors not on Mitchell's mind just yet
March 13, 2013, 6:15 pm
Share This Post

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jared Mitchell's seen the bright lights of the big stage, celebrating a BCS Championship with LSU five years ago. He's yet to see what it's like at baseball's top level, although he may be inching closer toward making his major-league debut.

That won't come at the start of the 2013 season, but an impressive spring -- Mitchell topped the White Sox in hits entering Wednesday's action -- has put the team's 2009 first-round pick on the map.

"He looks great," manager Robin Ventura said. "You sit there and he impresses you. He keeps getting better. From last year to this year, he's matured."

[MORE: Peavy's passion carries over]

Mitchell, though, hasn't thought about breaking through to the majors. He'll begin his second go-around with Triple-A Charlotte in April after hitting .231/.329/.364 in 141 plate appearances at that level last year. For now, he says he's not taking a big-picture focus toward the 2013 season.

"I try to take every day just day by day," Mitchell said. "What can I do to get better this day, where I can get better that day, that's what I worry about. And I'll go home and lay my head happily at night."

For years, Mitchell's been described as raw, a player who's only recently committed to playing baseball full time. But the outfielder still takes a lesson he learned on the football field with him to baseball, with that coming from his coach at Westgate High School in New Iberia, La., Craig Brodie.

"One thing (he) preached was control the controllables," Mitchell explained. "You worry about the things you can control every day, and everything else you don't worry your brain about it because there's nothing you can do about. You do the things that you need to do every day, and hopefully that'll take care of everything else."

Mitchell couldn't control his lack of experience in baseball, nor could he control the devastating ankle injury he suffered in spring training three years ago. He trusts his ankle now, which was key for his turnaround in 2012 (.327/.358/.420 with 21 stolen bases).

Strikeouts remained an issue, though, as Mitchell struck out 179 times in 549 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. He's eliminated the leg kick in his swing though, and fellow outfielder Dewayne Wise observed a more compact swing while watching Mitchell this spring. Wise added a good mental approach has helped Mitchell's success, too.

"He's up there not trying to do too much. He looks like he's having fun, that's the main thing," Wise said. "Guys come to big league camp, they try to do too much, but he's a laid-back guy and he works hard, and it's showing on the field."

The White Sox have plenty of outfield depth in the minor leagues should something happen to an outfielder this season. Jordan Danks and Blake Tekotte both have major-league experience, but Mitchell could play himself to the top of the pecking order for a major-league call-up.

While Mitchell's Cactus League success is nice, it's only a minor point in his favor. Far more important for his chances of debuting in the majors this season will be how he fares in Charlotte.

"It's one thing to be down here and do this," Ventura said, "but they also have to go down and be able to do it down there."