Mitchell Looking To Meet Expectations

Jermaine Mitchell's game is one of flash, speed and intensity. After being dubbed by Baseball America as the best athlete and fastest baserunner in the Oakland A's system, Mitchell has high expectations both from himself and from others. With all of the intensity that he brings to the field, Mitchell has a constant reminder on his wrist everyday to keep himself settled.

Located on his right wrist is a baby-blue wristband that has the phrase, "chill out," which is easier said than done for Jermaine Mitchell.

"It helps me stay calm in the box," said Mitchell. "With all the pressing I've been putting on myself lately to be a leader, it's a good reminder for me."

Mitchell, who was a four-sport athlete in high school (baseball, football, basketball and track), has excelled in nearly every sport he has attempted. But so far this season, Mitchell has struggled, hitting .265.

"I set my goal for batting average at .350 because I always set my goals high," said Mitchell.

"I've been watching film and noticed that I've been getting out on my front side and not staying back lately. I need to focus on staying back and hitting through the ball."

In other words, it all comes back to Mitchell needing to relax at the plate and wait for his pitch. Because he has been lunging at pitches, he has more been more likely to pop the ball up, negating his quickness.

Cougars Manager Aaron Nieckula would like to see Mitchell hit the ball on the ground more due to his quickness out of the box.

"If he hits the ball anywhere on the ground on the left side he's got a terrific shot of legging out a single," said Nieckula.

Recently, Mitchell went three-for-three in a game including two infield singles. After one of the singles, he stole second and third and he also turned a routine ground ball into a runner on third with nobody out. This is the type of way Mitchell can impact a game.

"I can steal bases, I can bunt for hits to start an inning or sacrifice people over because of my speed," adds Mitchell. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can do to get our team going."

As for the Kane County Cougars, they are struggling. With a record of 12-33, it would be easy to come to Elfstrom Stadium every day with a bad attitude. But this was never an option for Mitchell.

"I'm enjoying playing for this team," admits Mitchell.

"We're not playing as well as we should be. We know that we're a real good team and we're just not getting the breaks lately."

Because baseball is such a long season, there is plenty of time for Mitchell to work out the quarks and become the prospect a lot of scouts expect him to be.

"I need to stay confident right now," said Mitchell. "If I can relax and bunt a little more, which I have gone away from lately, it would probably help my average a little bit."

Although Mitchell has been ranked as top-10 prospect in the organization, he stays humble because of the nature of the job.

"It's nice to know people have recognized what I can do, said Mitchell.

"I know I still have to work hard. You never know when it's going to be your last game because there are so many players constantly coming in."

The sky is the limit for Mitchell. And if he can master his swing and learn to utilize his legs, he could become a great leadoff prototype for the pros. With all the responsibilities Mitchell has in the outfield and as the team's second batter, it would be easy to get stressed. Then again, if Mitchell ever worries too much, he need only look down at his wrist for solace.

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