White Sox seeing the real Jared Mitchell

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White Sox seeing the real Jared Mitchell

In the southern towns of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Chattanooga, a young White Sox prospect is suddenly raising eyebrows and expectations.

Hes batting .310 with an on-base percentage of .434. He leads the Southern League with 22 runs and 6 triples. Hes 6 for 7 in stolen bases. His strikeouts are way down. His walks are way up.

And now, so is the ceiling for Jared Mitchell, the left-handed outfielder who once was lost, but now is found.

Because of the health issues, we have never really seen the real Mitch, said Buddy Bell, White Sox VP of Player Development. I believe we are just now getting a glimpse of seeing the player we drafted a couple years ago.

As the White Sox first round pick in 2009, Mitchell was in the same draft class as young phenoms Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Drew Storen, Mike Trout and Brett Jackson. A college star at LSU, he seemed to be on the fast track to join the White Sox, until that fateful day the following spring.

March 12, 2010.

Brought into a split-squad game in Tempe as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, Mitchell went after a deep fly ball off the bat of the Angels Juan Rivera. Jared made a sensational catch against the wall, but when he came down, something was wrong. He couldnt feel anything in his left leg.

Mitchell tore a tendon in his ankle.

He would need surgery, months of rehab, plus something most 21-year-olds never think about.

Time.

You learn a lot about patience through an injury like that, Mitchell said by phone on Monday. Its a lot of mental perseverance, and things you have to go through, and things you learn about yourself through a situation like that.

The Most Outstanding Player of the 2009 College World Series was forced to miss all of the 2010 season. Then last year while at Winston-Salem, he struggled mightily at the plate, batting .222 with 183 strikeouts in 129 games.

Going into last year, in my mind, I thought I was pretty healthy and pretty back to regular.

He wasnt. Mitchell says he was at about 85 percent. Thats physically. Throw the mental part into it, and that number was probably lower.

I wasnt all the way back, didnt have all the spring back, Mitchell said. I think that helps a lot, to be able to know that youre healthy and not have to worry about anything else.

Ask Jake Peavy.

As a former number-one pick, did Mitchell put too much pressure on himself?

I think subconsciously I probably was, yeah, Mitchell said. For me, I guess I wanted everything to come back so quick. It wasnt so much trying to show this person this or that person that. I wanted to be back in top shape so much, so quick. And it just doesnt happen that way. This game is not that easy. You realize that once you go through it. I think being able to just come into this year and being able to let things happen and not put so much pressure on every at-bat, and not worry about everything.

So far, when it comes to hitting in the clutch, Mitchell doesnt seem to be worried about anything. With the bases empty, hes batting .245. With runners on, his average climbs to .374. With runners in scoring position, its even higher at .394.

He has made such great strides and because of his talent and makeup will continue to get better daily, Bell said about the young centerfielder. There are a few things we knew very early on. He can't get much more athletic, hes a great kid, and he is one of the most competitive kids we've ever had here.

He is so tough on himself. That gets in his way sometimes, but I think that kind of mentality will help him become the player that he hopes to be.

If he continues to hit like this, the White Sox believe hell be ready for the big leagues sometime in 2013. But in the meantime, Jared isnt thinking about next season. Hes focused on today.

My time will come, he said. If you start to think about getting promoted to the majors, its just added pressure on yourself. What I try to do I just enjoy the game every day, have fun, and let the chips fall where they may.

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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