Cal Mitchell has a saying: He is fast now.
He would like for everyone to know.
Not in a boastful way, but still confident of his abilities and a misconception.
“It was always kind of a running joke with my friends and the Pirates that I was slow,” Mitchell said. “That kind of took hold a little bit, so I wanted to remind everyone that I can run.”
However, this rumor is not just within his personal network, or even the Pirates. There was a scouting report Tweet that listed speed as his only below average tool. Baseball America listed Mitchell as its number 99 top prospect in 2018. Speed and arm were Mitchell’s only tools listed below 50.
He admitted that hearing these types of reports put a decent sized chip on his shoulder. Both of the aforementioned Tweets were retweeted.
“There was kind of this stigma around that I can’t run or I have to play in the corners because I can’t run,” Mitchell said. “I can, and this is a good year and a good opportunity to remind everybody that it’s not true.”
He is showing that speed and good timing on the field this season. Through Friday, Mitchell has stolen four bases in 18 games and has not been caught yet.
Additionally, Mitchell has raked at the plate. He has a .933 OPS so far this year, and has been the second best hitter for Indianapolis, behind only Pirates Prospects April Player of the Month Mason Martin.
Indianapolis manager Miguel Perez has worked with Mitchell for a couple seasons now. Over that span, Mitchell has really impressed in a few regards.
“He is confident at the plate,” Perez said. “I am very pleased with the way that Cal has started. I had him last year, and this is what I saw last year as well. He is a guy who is going to give competitive at bats on a daily basis from the get go. He went through the whole season being the same guy. There are going to be ups and downs, but he did a great job last season of making the down moments not as sharp.”
Personally, Mitchell has an approach to attach pitchers early in the at bat and make them pay for mistakes.
“I am feeling good at the plate,” Mitchell said. “I feel like I am balanced and feel strong in my load and my swings. I am making hard contact early in the count, which is generally when the best pitches to hit are. I have been able to take advantage of those pitches early in the count.”
This approach has paid off early for Mitchell and put him on the doorstep for a promotion to Pittsburgh. His biggest challenge is that he is not yet on the 40 man roster. However, another month or two like he has put together so far, and Mitchell can show the fans in PNC Park just how fast he is now.