Mitchell A Completely Different Pitcher

TRENTON, NJ - After a frustrating 4-11 record in 23 starts with Tampa, Bryan Mitchell looks like a pitcher whose change of scenery in Double-A Trenton has been the medicine to give him back his confidence. He hasn't picked up a decision in his first three starts though because the Thunder have only scored three runs for him total in his 18 2/3 innings pitched.

"Obviously I wasn't really happy with the way that I performed in Tampa," Mitchell said. "I can't really pinpoint what it was; I felt that it was just one of those things where things just didn't go my way.

"I took the promotion as a chance to capitalize and improve myself and I've been a completely different pitcher, and turned things around."

The first impressions he has brought about have been filled with praise, even without using his full arsenal of pitches.

"Bryan was outstanding," Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said about Mitchell's first two starts in Trenton. "I was really impressed with what I saw in his first couple outings, he attacked the zone, pitched down in the zone, but I would like to see him use his curveball a little bit more.

"He has a good one and hasn't used it enough. He's started using a cutter and it's effective; especially versus lefties, and he's got a good changeup, and he's not afraid to use it."

Mitchell has been working hard on improving each of his pitches - fastball, changeup, cutter, and curveball - and the praise from the coaching staff only means that the hard work has paid off despite not seeing the results all the time.

"I've developed my changeup a lot, my curveball has gotten better this year too, and I'm throwing a cutter now too," Mitchell said. "Over the course of the whole season, [not getting the results I want] has been taxing mentally and physically. You just can't dwell on it and you have to just get back out there every five days or so and get better."

At the same time, now that he's been assimilated into the starting rotation in Trenton, he needs to adapt and adjust in order to find consistency to last for the rest of the post-season.

"He's pretty good but like most youngsters, need to see a little more consistency, be a little more pitch efficient, but other than that, he competes very well," Thunder Manager Tony Franklin said. "I like that about him.

"He got us into the seventh inning, those were pretty good outings. I talked about pitch efficiency, so when you're doing that, that means you're throwing strikes."

One thing that's surprising is that Mitchell has found it a little easier so far to pitch at the Double-A level because he likes the challenge of facing these hitters and it shows in his lower walk ratio [just five walks so far].

"The hitters are a lot more patient up here," Mitchell said. "Ironically, it's easier to pitch up here because guys will make you throw strikes and you actually get a chance to work your pitches. I've walked my first two guys that I've faced in my [first] two starts, but once I got settled in, after those batters, I got really comfortable."

There have been a lot of players called up from Tampa this season, and going from the Florida State League to the Eastern League is a challenge many of the players embrace. Bigger crowds, being one step closer to the major leagues, the Yankees' injury problems this season has opened a lot of doors for these players.

"I think when guys get into this atmosphere, it picks their game up, just like the playoffs," Phelps said. "Anytime they're promoted, they're excited that you're just a small jump until the big leagues.

"With the Florida State league, there are never many fans there. So they're coming out to work every day, they got their objectives that they're working on, and it's always motivating."

One of the most talented pitching prospects in the Yankee farm system, Mitchell has a high velocity fastball, one of the best curveballs in the organization, and a variety of above average pitches.

"You're going to notice the velocity, then notice his stuff, and then you're going to say this kid is pretty good," Franklin said. "I don't think [Bryan] has to worry about throwing any harder or the stuff being any better.

"It's going to be a matter of can he be consistent with what he already has. A little more consistency with him, and he's got a good chance to pitch in New York."

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