Derrick Mitchell Welcomes Challenges

For Derrick Mitchell, things can't happen fast enough. Career wise that is. The Phillies 23rd round pick out of Paw Paw High School in Michigan is ready to move along through the system, but knows that there is still a lot to learn.

Derrick Mitchell comes from an athletic family. "My Dad played some basketball and had pro try outs with the Pistons," said the 18 year old infielder. Mitchell has had a steady parade of family members make the trek from Michigan to Clearwater to watch him play in the Gulf Coast League. That's not unusual, since he's had their support his entire life. "My Mom and Dad have really been a big influence and a big support for me. If it wasn't for them taking me everywhere and supporting me, I wouldn't have made it to this point," admits Mitchell.

The three sport (baseball, basketball and football) high school star has had to make a transition to pro athletics. He arrived in Clearwater and quickly lost ten pounds because he was working out a lot harder and not getting a steady stream of home cooking. Now, he's put it back on and has himself in more of a regimen that will keep him healthy and strong.

The pace of the pro game is a lot quicker than the old high school games back in Paw Paw. "That's one thing I really need to work on. I feel like I need to do things so much quicker and be more under control," admits Mitchell. Roving minor league instructor Dave Owens is credited with helping Mitchell to progress in his inaugural pro season. "When he comes for a couple days at a time, we have worked on turning the double play and being under control. I need to keep my feet under me when I throw and not be in too big of a hurry to throw the ball," explained Mitchell. With a team high 12 errors, there is still a lot of work for Owens to do, but at least he has a willing student.

What Mitchell doesn't pick up during the season, he may be able to address during the Florida Instructional League that starts next month. He'll be there as part of the young class of Phillies players looking to make their mark in the organization. For Mitchell, he can't wait to move ahead. "It is going pretty well, but I would rather move up. Obviously, I'm young and it's going to take some time before I move up. This (the Gulf Coast League) is a great place to start out."

There is work for Mitchell to do offensively, as well. Hitting just .220, it's been tough, but Mitchell views every at bat as a challenge to face. "Hitting is definitely what I look forward to. It is more of a challenge when you come to bat," said Mitchell.

For now, Mitchell is focused squarely on baseball, preferring to wait to think about things like spending bonus money and what he'll do in the off-season. "Everyone is telling me to get a new car or truck, but I am not a big car guy. I would rather just save my money," said Mitchell. If all goes as planned, Mitchell will eventually have plenty of money for a new car or whatever else he wants. For now, it's just back to the daily grind and soaking up every bit of help that the coaching staff can give to him.


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