May 13 – Happy Birthday D. J. Mitchell
Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances may be considered the two top pitching prospects in the Yankee organization, but if you go by Minor League player metrics, D.J. Mitchell’s numbers stack up more than favorably with those of both “killer B’s”. As of 05-13-12, Banuelos has a minor league record of 19-19 with a 3.08 ERA, 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched (SO/9) and a walks plus hits per inning allowed average (WHIP) of 1.302. Betances is 26-25 with a 3.62 ERA, an SO/9 of 10.1 and a WHIP of 1.309. Mitchell is 40-21 with a 3.29 ERA, a WHIP of 1.301 and a SO/9 of 8.1.
Mitchell turns 25 years old today, a year older than Betances and four years older than Banuelos. His real name is William Douglas Mitchell and he was born in Winston-Salem, NC. He attended Clemson University and was a tenth round Yankee selection in the 2008 amateur draft. He began his college and amateur career as a full-time outfielder and part-time pitcher.
While the press focused all their attention on the two “B’s,” when pitchers reported to the 2012 Yankee spring training camp, it was Mitchell and Dave Phelps who pitched the best of all the young pinstriped prospects in March. The two battled for the long reliever slot on the big league roster. Joe Girardi indicated selecting one over the other was one of his toughest decisions and he ended up taking Phelps north with the team and sending Mitchell back to triple A. Then at the end of the first month of the 2012 regular season, Girardi demoted the struggling Freddie Garcia to the bullpen, inserted Phelps in the starting rotation and called up Mitchell too. D.J. made his Major League debut on May 1 against the Orioles. Girardi brought him in to pitch the top of the ninth inning with Baltimore ahead 7-1. I watched on TV as Mitchell proceeded to strike out the first big league hitter he ever faced, Orioles’ shortstop J.J. Hardy, on three straight pitches. He subsequently survived two singles and posted a scoreless inning.
Two days later, Girardi replaced Clay Rapada with Mitchell in the fifth inning of a game in Kansas City with a man on first, one out and the Yankees losing 2-1. He gave up two-hits and allowed two runs to score before that inning was over but came back to pitch a perfect sixth inning. Mitchell was then sent back down to make room for outfielder DeWayne Wise.
UPDATE: D. J. Mitchell was sent to Seattle in July of 2012 as part of the Ichiro Suzuki trade but is now pitching in the farm system of the New York Mets.
Mitchell shares his May 13th birthday with another Yankee pitching prospect from over a quarter century ago.