Pirates To Promote Cal Mitchell

The Pirates are calling up outfield prospect Cal Mitchell, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mitchell isn’t on the 40-man roster, so he’ll need to have his contract formally selected (unless he’s being brought up specifically as a Covid-related substitute player). Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster is full at the moment, so they’ll need to make at some corresponding moves. It seems likely there’s a set of transactions on the horizon, as it was reported Sunday that right-hander Roansy Contreras was also being brought back to the big leagues — and Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted last night that a locker is indeed set up for Contreras.

Mitchell, 23, was the No. 50 overall draft pick back in 2017. He’s had something of a slow developmental arc and hasn’t been considered among the Pirates’ top tier of prospects. Prior to the season, he ranked 22nd among Bucs farmhands at Baseball America, 25th at MLB.com and 37th at FanGraphs. However, Mitchell’s early work in 2022 has surely elevated his status. So far in 2022, he’s hitting for more power, striking out far less and running more often (and more successfully) than in any season of his professional career.

Prior to 2022, Mitchell had never reached an .800 OPS and was generally an above-average but not excellent hitter, by measure of wRC+. This year, however, Mitchell has stormed out of the gate with a .306/.362/.500 batting line (128 wRC+) through his first 138 plate appearances. He’s homered five times and connected on nine doubles, and the resulting .194 ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) is the best of his career by 39 points. He’s also gone a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen bases, already tying his career-high total, and has fanned in just 14.5% of his plate appearances — well south of his prior rate of 22.4%.

Mitchell has spent the vast majority of his professional career playing right field (2797 innings), though he’s also logged 488 frames in left field and 27 in center. The Bucs have gotten solid production from Ben Gamel in left field, so he’s unlikely to be displaced, barring injury. Over in right field, rookie Jack Suwinski has struggled to the tune of a .182/.232/.377 batting line in his first 82 big league plate appearances.

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