Mitchell Getting Ahead

Mitchell struck out 4 in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday

TAMPA, FL - Yankee team officials have always believed right-hander Bryan Mitchell had potential frontline stuff and he is starting to show exactly that with the way he reported to camp this year and in the early going of Spring Training.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds when he was first drafted in the 15th round back in 2009, Bryan Mitchell had been slowly but surely adding weight and strength over his first full season last year. He continued that strength gain this offseason too.

"Going into the offseason I was about 190 [pounds] and when I first came into camp I reported at 200," he said, "and now I'm trying to stay between 200 and 205 [pounds], just depending on what we've got going on."

Always possessing a plus curveball and plus fastball combination at his age, he knew right away that he would need to make gaining strength a priority in his development in order to begin tapping some of that potential.

"I was definitely trying to gain weight," he admitted. "That's been a goal for the past couple of years and I am now growing into my body I guess. I feel better athletically, definitely, but stronger and leaner."

The early returns have been quite favorable too. His 92-94 mph fastball has jumped up to the 94-95 mph range in his first couple of Spring Training outings, and he even hit 96 mph six different times during intrasquad games last Friday.

"It just kind of came out of nowhere," he said with a smile. "It felt like I was throwing normally but I guess it was coming out good. It was a big surprise but it felt good."

While the added velocity is certainly welcomed, throwing a power fastball had never really been his problem. Throwing a consistent changeup and getting ahead of hitters were though.

"Everyday during long-toss I've been working on it and throwing it," he said of his changeup. "I've got a better feel for it and I'm confident throwing it now. I wouldn't call it an out-pitch like my curveball but it's definitely a good secondary offering."

He realizes he still has some work to do on his changeup but he also acknowledges it might take some time to get it to the same level as his knockout curve. In the meantime, however, his main goal for the remainder of camp is the all-important strike one.

"Not falling behind batters and just getting ahead, you can't last in games pitching behind hitters," he said. "I'm healthy and ready to go.

"I'm just trying to go out there throw strikes, not get behind in the count, and get guys out. That was my big problem last year, just getting ahead of hitters. I know I've got what it takes to get to Charleston, now I've just got to do it."

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