During the Royals playoff run in 2014, they needed to supplement their major league roster with a college player to help lengthen their bullpen. The draft of Brandon Finnegan did just that while also simultaneously giving them some product to flip the next year for an eventual trade which would help them close the deal on the 2015 World Series. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, this type of plan could go into place once again this season with the possible selection of Brendon Little or another pitcher that I will write about later. This, however, isn’t a likely scenario with the talent that the Royals already possess near the upper levels of the minor league system.
Pitchers Josh Staumont, Kyle Zimmer and Andrew Edwards along with veterans give them more than enough inventory to fill out Kansas City’s bullpen during a possible playoff run. Knowing they have enough in house pitching for a run the Royals could continue to add depth to their lower minors group; a group that despite what the prospect community thinks, is starting to look intriguing to me.
Which players could Lonnie Goldberg add to the new wave? One such player could be outfielder Garrett Mitchell of Orange Lutheran High School in California. The Royals front office and draft gurus long have loved toolsy players and Mitchell fits right into that model as a centerfielder that has multiple exciting tools. The outfielder from just south of Disney Land has the speed to run toe to toe with Space Mountain as he’s been spotted running 6.35 speed in the 60. To put that in perspective, current Omaha Storm Chaser center fielder Bubba Starling ran a 6.5 time during his high school days.
Along with that speed, Mitchell possesses solid reads on balls in the outfield and a good arm with carry that registers in the low 90’s. While some think the arm plays at just average to a tick below with that velocity in the outfield, and I think over time we will see his arm to be average to plus. The speed and arm combination combined with the Royals ability to teach outfield defense should give Mitchell an opportunity to become an elite defender.
At 6’2 200 lbs., Mitchell has a physical frame that should be able to add even more strength to an already strong frame. While most players with this size and frame would gradually slide over to right field, Garrett’s elite speed will likely keep him in center. It’s a profile that the Royals were looking for with Bubba Starling but with far more feel for baseball. The only deterrent to Mitchell and that frame is the fact that he is a Type 1 diabetic who wears an insulin pump. While some teams may be wary of his diabetes Mitchell is comfortable with it and does a fantastic job of keeping himself healthy and constantly monitoring his situation. Just another sign of his commitment to his body and game.
The offensive profile is where some questions lie with Mitchell despite his plus speed and strength. The lefty drops his hands in his load, leaving him with a flat planed swing that some experts believe could a load change. The drop leads to plenty of line drives and elevated fly balls now while Garrett has shown that his bat stays in the hitting zone for an extended time with elite bat speed. The Perfect Game program continues to make strides with multiple companies to judge bat speed, time to impact, hand speed and exit velocity. In those measurements, Mitchell rated in the 93 percent or better ratio in both times to impact and exit velocity.
While not ranking as highly in hand speed and bat speed at the time of impact he still showed above average rates at both. The hand load may need a small tweak but I think the makings of a 60 hitter with excellent ability to generate hard contact on a good swing path with strength. While looking at video and gifs of Mitchell I think Wilson Karaman of Baseball Prospectus comparison of the swing to Chase Utley hit home for me.
Check out more scouting video’s from Wilson Karaman on his Youtube page
If you combine that speed, the strength, bat speed and bat path, I think you have the full package as a future 50/55 hitter with 20 HR power in a center field profile. A true five-tool player that could excite the brass and fans at the same time. When tossing in the Chase Utley style bat perhaps Mike Arbuckle’s (drafted Utley) involvement in the front office could turn the front office onto this player. As far as prep position players rank Garrett Mitchell would be my selection for the Royals at this current time based on likely availability and upside.
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