5th Round Pick Mitchell Ready To Lead

Sometimes in the debate between "scouts" and "stat-heads" there is a player about whom both parties agree. A's 5th round selection Jermaine Mitchell is that type of a player. A four-sport athlete in high school, Mitchell can do a little bit of everything on the baseball field. He also understands the importance of working the count and getting on-base. More on the A's newest speedster inside.

It took Jermaine Mitchell a little time to get to Division-I baseball, but once he got there, he made quite an impression. After two seasons at Texarkana Community College in Texas, Mitchell transferred to the University of North Carolina, Greenboro. During his one season at UNC, Greensboro, Mitchell was a force for the Spartans. Despite the increased level of competition, Mitchell wasn't phased by the jump to D-I baseball.

"It was pretty much the same [between Community College level and Division-I]. The one thing I think that was different was that the pitchers were a little bit better in D-I. They really knew how to pitch," Mitchell said from his home in Texas two days after being selected by the A's.

"In community college, you would get challenged with fastballs a little bit more. I faced a lot of high velocity guys in community college."

Mitchell was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection and the conference "Player of the Month" for May during this past season at Greensboro. The speedy centerfielder led the conference in batting with a .397 average and was the Spartan team leader in several categories, including home runs (5), slugging percentage (.568), on-base percentage (.493), hits (93), stolen bases (24), triples (7), total bases (133), RBIs (41) and walks (42).

Mitchell's combination of speed and patience make him an ideal candidate to hit near the top of the order, something he says that he is looking forward to doing at the professional level.

"Speed is a big part of my game. I think I'm probably going to be a table-setter. I look to get on-base and make things happen once I am there," Mitchell said.

While Mitchell's speed and athleticism may separate him from many Oakland A's draft picks over the past several years, his philosophy behind hitting is right in-line with the A's dogma. Mitchell walked at roughly the same pace as he struck out this past season and he has a very patient approach to hitting.

"Working the count is definitely something I try to do. I look to hit my pitch and I don't chase pitches that I don't want to hit," Mitchell said.

When Mitchell's name was called on Tuesday, it fulfilled a life-long dream he had to be a professional athlete. Mitchell was a four-sport star in high school, and he always had an eye on making a career out of his athletic abilities.

"Baseball and football were always my favorite sports. Since I was a little kid, I always knew that I wanted to play baseball and football professionally," Mitchell said.

"It was definitely always my goal. I thought I was going to be able to play football in college, but it didn't work out. Baseball has worked out, though, so I am very happy about that."

Mitchell has another year of eligibility at UNC, Greensboro, but he indicated on Thursday that he is likely to sign with Oakland. In being selected at the 158th slot in the draft, Mitchell became the second-highest draft choice in school history.

"I really and truly didn't know that [I was the second-highest pick in school history] until I saw it on the school website the next day. It's pretty exciting and a great honor," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that the A's had expressed interest in him before the draft, so he wasn't surprised when they were the team who called him. He was scouted by first-year A's scout Neil Avent, a former UNC, Greenboro assistant baseball coach who is the same scout who signed fifth-year senior Carlos Gutierrez for the A's before the draft.

On the draft's second day, Mitchell watched as the A's tabbed one of his UNC, Greensboro teammates, pitcher Patrick Currin, in the 22nd round. Mitchell was excited for his past - and perhaps future - teammate.

"I was really glad to see Patrick picked. I was hoping that he would be drafted and when I saw he was picked, I was really happy for him. He is a great pitcher and he deserves the chance to show that [in the pros]," Mitchell said.

Mitchell indicated on Thursday that the A's have not yet told him where he will be playing if and when he signs. However, wherever it is that Mitchell first suits up, he sounds ready for the challenge of professional baseball.

"I'm looking forward to going out there and proving people wrong who thought that I would never make it," Mitchell said.

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