The San Diego Padres selected a funky left-handed pitcher out of San Jose State, and he could be an exceptional prospect in time.
A.J. Preller and his staff have done well for the San Diego Padres in finding undervalued talent.
At both the major league level and within the amateur ranks, the Padres seem to be doing well in finding talent. With one of the best farm systems in all the land, there is no arguing the fact that Preller and his staff are doing their job.
The Padres selected Andrew Mitchel from San Jose State with an 8th-round selection in 2019. The lefty has ties to San Diego, as he pitched for Grossmont College in 2017 where he helped the Griffins win a state championship. He admittedly followed his girlfriend to San Diego after a terrible first year at Fresno City College out of high school. “Baseball wasn’t going well. So I decided to go down (to San Diego) and have fun,” Mitchel said. “That fall at Grossmont, everything clicked. I got a scholarship to San Jose State. We win a state championship. Everything was going good.” Mitchel went 6-1 for Grossmont with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 41 innings pitched. He struck out 37 during that span while walking 27 batters.
Command and throwing strikes is an issue for this pitcher who walked 92 batters in two years at San Jose State. Walking 92 men in 171 innings is not ideal, but pitcher also struck out 213 batters showing a great ability to punch out hitters at a high rate. There is some risk, but the reward is high. The hope is major league coaching will help him simplify his mechanics into a more repeatable motion. There is a bit of funk to his delivery, and that takes time to master.
In 2019, the senior led his conference with 112 strikeouts and finished second with a .208 batting average against. Mitchel won the 2018 Co-Mountain West Pitcher of the Year and was the first Spartan since Matt Durkin to eclipse 100 strikeouts in back-to-back seasons. He shows a strong spirit on the mound and is a fierce competitor. His manager spoke about that fact “Based on his stuff and his competitiveness, I knew he could be a good starter. Then you add his intangibles, his competitiveness, his will to win, and his work ethic, which is second to none,” manager Brad Sanfilippo said about the young pitcher.
The failures of the game early in his career guide this young pitcher. There is an excellent understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed. “I started thinking maybe you have to be born to play baseball. I’m glad I stuck with it. It took a long time to understand that hard work does pay off. It was a long, bumpy road.”Mitchel told the Mercury Sun-Star. The native of Austin, Texas is focused and ready to compete each day. “Working hard is something I’ve never not done.”
When draft day came, it was a special moment for the pitcher. “It was an unreal moment and a crazy day,” the left-hander said. “I can’t really describe how it felt because I don’t know how to describe 17 years of hard work into one moment, but it was pretty surreal — it was probably the best day of my life,” Mitchel admits.
In March, Mitchell struck out 18 batters against Air Force.
The pitcher scattered four hits and walked just two batters as he went the distance to lead the Spartans to a 4-1 win. His 18 punch-outs are the second-most in school history in a nine-inning game and the most since 1964. It also ranks as the second-most by a Mountain West pitcher in a conference game in conference history, second only to Stephen Strasburg’s 23 strikeouts vs. Utah on April 11, 2008
The Padres might tinker with the idea of Mitchel throwing out of the pen. At 23, he is not a young prospect and could show the advanced maturity to make it through the system rather quickly. His key will be the ability to pound the zone and throw strikes. This spring, if Mitchell shows the improved command on the mound that is needed for success, he could start the season in Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore and rise through the system rather quickly.