Mitchell Ready To Compete

Mitchell says his game is getting better

D.J. Mitchell was drafted by the Yankees with a little more intrigue than normally offered by a traditional tenth round pick out of college. Signed at the deadline, however, he was unable to to make an impression with the Yankees until the Instructional League season. He did that in Tampa in recent weeks and now he says he's ready to compete.

"I think I did very well," D.J. Mitchell said of his time in Instructs. "I worked on a lot of things - my balance, my mechanics - and I brought that into the game. There were a lot of changes but I felt very comfortable.

"It wasn't anything overwhelming that I thought I couldn't do and I just went out there and competed. The coaches were great, they helped me out with a lot of stuff."

Though his time was short he was able to quickly impress scouts with his power-sinker and a better than expected curveball. But perhaps more than anything it was his ability to adapt and adjust that caught the attention of many.

"Actually, I think I'm better right now than I was last year, which is a good thing," he opined. "I'm a better pitcher with the two or three weeks I was out there so those guys are great and it was a lot of fun."

Considered a signability case from the moment he was selected out of Clemson University, the fact he wasn't able to pitch for a majority of the summer and yet still able to seemingly not skip a beat was impressive to say the least.

"I think with my mechanics and staying over the rubber, I think I'm able to repeat my delivery every time out," said Mitchell. "With that I'm able to throw the ball to this spot and that spot every time instead of every other time. That's a big step.

"Also my changeup has been drastically better than it was last year because I didn't throw it that much. I threw it a lot in my couple outings here [at Instructs] and it felt great. It felt normal in Instructs and that's a big step."

He was pleased with his mechanics and surprised at how immediately he took to the professional coaching, but he says he is starting to see a specific change in his stuff and that might be the bigger news.

"Everything felt great. My changeup was probably the pitch I didn't use [in college], it wasn't one of my better pitches. Everybody has to have a changeup and now it feels great to go out there and compete with three pitches instead of two. It just makes it easier for me, which is great."

Feeling surprisingly strong at the outset of his professional career, albeit in short order, the right-hander is merely looking to keep building up his momentum this offseason.

"I'm going to pitch in the Dominican Republic [Instructs] for a couple of weeks. I guess it's just to get some more innings, get out there and get on the mound some more, and keep working on my stuff - my balance, my mechanics, and my pitches. I'm pretty excited. I've never been there so it should be a great experience for me."

Still under the 30-day hands-off policy where the Yankees focus solely on evaluating his game before implementing changes, Mitchell has started implementing his own and he has an idea of what he wants to work on next month in the Dominican Republic.

"I think right now they're letting me do my own thing. I think my main focus right now is coming to my balance point with my delivery and staying back. I think that's the main focus right now and once I get that down we'll go on to other things."

With just a couple of Instructional League innings to his credit thus far, it's still way too early in his career to even begin thinking where he might make his professional debut next season, but wherever he may land Mitchell says he is already chomping at the bit to compete.

"I'm not really sure where I'm going to start out," he forecasted for 2009. "I'm just ready to go out there and compete. Wherever they send me out to, I'm just going to go out there and do my best."

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