Mitchell is not the best prospect on the Yankees Triple-A staff, but don't be surprised if he's the first to the majors. Scouts think he could be effective as either a back-end starter or middle reliever, as while he's on the small side, he's ultra-athletic and features a fastball that has slightly above-average velocity and plenty of movement. He's not going to be a star, but he should have big league value, even on a championship-level roster.
Of the notable prospects who didn't start the year in the majors, who got jumped ahead and who got left behind?
With Opening Day upon us, roster decisions have been made, and while most players continue to take the standard route up the minor league ladder, there are plenty of prospects either making a double jump, or being left behind to repeat a level. Last week's player of the year watch had three teenagers-- Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and Seattle righty Taijuan Walker--who are all beginning the year in Double-A; here are ten more players beginning the year somewhere other than where many expected.
Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect to Mike Trout and his supernatural powers.
Prospect #1: OF Mike Trout Background with Player: My eyes; industry sources. Who: It’s a little cheap to include Trout in these rankings; after all, he belongs at the major league level in 2012 and already accrued 40 games there in 2011. But this is my series and I can do what I want, and what I want to do is wax poetic about Mike Trout. The 20-year-old prospect is not a mystery to man; he has been on the prospect landscape since a breakout debut campaign in 2009 put him on the map and an even greater sophomore season peeled back the layers of his superiority and left the baseball world with a top tier talent. Trout can do just about everything on a baseball field, with elite speed, a near-elite hit tool, plus power potential, a plus-plus glove, and enough arm to grade around average. That’s a legit five-tool talent, and while we are being honest here, if given a choice of any prospect in baseball to build a team around, I’d take Trout over Harper, I’d take Trout over Moore, and I’d take Trout over Profar. I’ve only seen the kid play five times in two years, but each time his performance triggered an internal existential debate: Is Mike Trout the archetype of the modern player? Is Mike Trout a baseball deity?
What Could Go Wrong in 2012: Trout’s physical skills are straight out of your favorite fables, but he’s only 20 and those post-biblical skills aren’t refined. As a right-handed hitter, Trout struggled with his first-taste of major league quality stuff, especially arm-side stuff on the inner half of the plate, be it sharp fastballs, benders with depth, or sequencing that kept him guessing on both. I fully expect to see more struggles of this variety in 2012, as Trout should pound lefties and remain inconsistent against the arm-side. To his benefit, Trout has lightning-fast hands and strong wrists which give him good bat control and contact ability. With those attributes, his contact rates should climb in 2012, but negotiating the difficulties associated with electric arm-side stuff is something you can only overcome through exposure, and setbacks are intrinsic to that process. In the end, Trout could be a perennial MVP candidate as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder that is going to hit over .300, reach base at a high clip, slug 20 homers and a ton of doubles, steal bases, and change the fortunes of the Angels franchise more than their recent free agent additions. The Church of Trout starts here.