In his pro debut in 2004, Scott Mitchinson had everyone buzzing. He threw 61.2 innings and walked just one hitter, while striking out 60. A 60-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio is unheard of and there had to be a letdown from there. There was no way that Mitchinson could equal those kinds of numbers in 2005 and you can't fault him for not putting up those types of lofty numbers, or even for not coming close to his 1.75 ERA from that first season. On the downside, Mitchinson didn't land softly back on Earth in 2005, he fell hard. Pitching at Batavia, his ERA shot up to 5.35 in 13 starts for the MuckDogs. He still walked just one hitter every four innings and did a lot of things well, but things just didn't turn out the way anybody had hoped.
The truth is somewhere between Mitchinson's first season and his second season, with the real truth falling much closer to his debut year. There is a lot of talent in Scott Mitchinson and everybody knows it. To be honest, it's not really clear why he struggled so badly in 2005, but odds are that he'll rebound in 2006 and put up solid numbers, but the question is where he'll start the season. The Phillies may want to caudle him a little and keep him in extended camp with a return to Batavia later in the year, but they may be better off challenging him and sending him to Lakewood to start the season. It's going to be an interesting decision.
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Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent in March, 2003.
Repertoire: Basic fastball, curveball and change-up that he can throw for strikes at any time in the count. Hitters have to be awake, because Mitchinson mixes his pitches well and will sometimes pitch "out of the box" to get hitters out. His velocity is improving, but movement and location are the keys for Mitchinson to get hitters out.
Pitching: One thing that didn't fail Mitchinson in 2005 was his ability to keep the ball down in the zone. In his minor league career, he's surrendered just three homeruns in 135.1 innings of work and that's phenomenal. He also managed to keep his poise through adversity and that's one of the toughest things for a young pitcher to do. Mitchinson seems to be smart enough to know that his career didn't live or die on one season at Batavia. It's a setback, but it's certainly something that he can recover from and learn from and it figures that Mitchinson will bounce back.
Projection: Sometimes, the Phillies like to challenge a player who has had a tough season and promote him anyway. Many times, it works wonders and they will definitely be tempted to do that with Mitchinson. Keep in mind though that they are also known for being cautious with young pitchers and sometimes treat them with an extremely tender touch. The question the Phillies have to ask is whether or not Mitchinson could handle a demotion if he were sent to Lakewood and things didn't work out. A lot of his peripheral numbers weren't that bad and there's probably nothing that Mitchinson could learn by staying in extended camp and returning to Batavia that he couldn't learn just as well in Lakewood. Move him up and see what he does.
Comparison: Mitchinson shows that you don't have to overpower hitters to succeed. One scout that we talked to said that he sees a lot of Cory Lidle in Mitchinson in that he's a smart pitcher who will find a way to adjust to things and get the job done.