Bryan Mitchell Could Blossom With New Opportunity
With a full 40-man roster, A.J. Preller sat on the sidelines at the Rule 5 draft for the first time since 2014, but the Padres’ fourth-year general manager didn’t leave the Winter Meetings without taking a gamble on his big league roster: Bryan Mitchell.
The 26-year-old Yankees righthander had been a target of Preller's for years. He finally joined the organization on Dec. 12 after the Padres agreed to take on Chase Headley’s $13 million salary in a trade that sent outfielder Jabari Blash to New York.
Headley could be on his way to another team, but Mitchell, a 16th-round pick in 2009 out of high school in North Carolina, is expected to compete for a rotation spot.
"He’s a guy who our scouting group had talked about a lot the last three years,” Preller told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He has big fastball velocity, and he’s got a really good breaking pitch in there, too . . .
"(He has) four years of (club) control—we kind of compared that to the free agent market, and he was probably more intriguing in terms of upside. He’s one of those guys who clubs try to acquire. Obviously, if he was performing like a front-of-the-rotation starter, you’re not getting him, but I think the components are there.”
Mitchell has topped out at 97 mph in the big leagues and has ranked as high as No. 11 in the Yankees system, back in 2015. He also throws a low-80s hammer curveball, an above-average cutter and a show-me changeup.
Mitchell pitched just 98 big league innings for the Yankees in parts of four seasons, however. A fractured toe early in 2016 cost him momentum, but in San Diego, the Padres are hoping a change of scenery, work with pitching coach Darren Balsley and the freedom to finally stretch his legs in the majors will help Mitchell realize his full potential.
Padres Bring Back Chase Headley From Yankees
Years after trading Chase Headley to the Yankees, San Diego brings him back.
"He's a guy who got caught on the Interstate between (Triple-A) Scranton and New York and didn't get sufficient opportunity,” Padres manager Andy Green told reporters at the Winter Meetings. "He pitched in the bullpen, pitched in a starter's role every now and again. They were never able to give him the consistent opportunity, which we think he'll thrive in.”