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Crew takes UCLA OF Mitchell in 1st round

Toolsy prospect has played with diabetes since childhood
@AdamMcCalvy
June 11, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Garrett Mitchell has been living and playing sports with Type 1 diabetes since he was in third grade. Some might say that put him at a disadvantage among the 37 players drafted selected on Wednesday in the 2020 MLB Draft. But Mitchell, the toolsy outfielder who went to

MILWAUKEE -- Garrett Mitchell has been living and playing sports with Type 1 diabetes since he was in third grade. Some might say that put him at a disadvantage among the 37 players drafted selected on Wednesday in the 2020 MLB Draft.

But Mitchell, the toolsy outfielder who went to the Brewers with the No. 20 overall pick, believes the opposite to be true.

Draft Tracker: Complete pick-by-pick coverage

“Personally, I don't really see it as a challenge,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, there are a lot of people who do, and who questioned whether it would be a factor down the road in the future. But I took it as an advantage because I know how my body works. I know what I need to do to make it feel good. I know the amount of rest I need to be ready to play every day, the amount of nutrients that make me feel the best every day.

2020 Draft Central

“That's an advantage because a lot of people don't know what their bodies need, but I can put myself in the best situation every single day when I go out on the field. It's not a challenge for me. It's my everyday life, and to be honest, I forget that I'm diabetic.”

The Brewers landed MLB Pipeline’s sixth-best pre-Draft prospect when they picked Mitchell, who has been on teams’ Draft radar since he was a prospect coming out of Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School in 2017. The A’s drafted him in the 14th round that year, but Mitchell attended UCLA instead, where he was slashing .355/.425/.484 over 62 at-bats in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports across the country. Those numbers were consistent with the first two years of his college career.

Brewers' top pick Mitchell impressed at UCLA

Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson touted Mitchell’s “80” speed, a reference to the top score on baseball’s scouting scale. Mitchell is also regarded as a top defensive center fielder and a solid gap-to-gap hitter with on-base skills. The common knock on his game is his power, which shows up in batting practice but didn’t always translate to games. That’s in part because his job for the Bruins, Mitchell said, was to get on base.

"He's the best athlete we've ever had, position player-wise," UCLA head baseball coach John Savage told MLB.com last month.

The Brewers have shown an affinity under president of baseball operations David Stearns for elite athletes, often left-handed hitters who play up the middle positions. Two years ago, Milwaukee’s top pick was prep shortstop Brice Turang, a lefty hitter who now ranks No. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Brewers prospects list. That pick was made a few months after Stearns traded for Christian Yelich. And in 2016, the Brewers’ first-round pick was Louisville center fielder Corey Ray. On paper, Mitchell has some of the same raw tools.

“He’s an electric athlete,” said Johnson, whose experience working in Silicon Valley made him suited to lead a Draft in which data analysis and video were more important than ever. “There’s a lot of power in there, actually. His raw power is really good. That’s still probably his area to improve, and [the one] I know he wants to get better at, is his ability to drive the ball with power. We think it’s in there. Then you’re talking about a five-tool player at that point. That’s what we see in him. Obviously, he’ll put the work in as well. We know the work ethic really well."

The Brewers know that because they have a long history with Mitchell, who played for some of Milwaukee’s showcase teams in Southern California, including in Area Code Baseball.

Thus, like Keston Hiura, Mitchell has played in a Brewers uniform long before the team drafted him.

“A lot of these teams -- it wasn't that I couldn't play or I'm not good at what I do, but it came down to diabetes: What teams want to deal with it, what teams are comfortable with it and what team is willing to take that chance. And again, I couldn't be more thankful that it was the Milwaukee Brewers. They know me. They know I'm going to work my butt off every single day and try to help this team win a World Series.”

It's not the first time that the Brewers drafted a first-round pick with diabetes. But there are significant differences, Johnson said, between Mitchell and 2010 first-rounder Dylan Covey, whose condition was revealed via a physical exam after he was drafted. The Brewers offered a lesser signing bonus and Covey opted to go to college instead. He was drafted by the A’s three years later and eventually made it to the Majors with the White Sox.

Mitchell is being represented by Scott Boras in negotiations with the Brewers, who have the ninth-smallest bonus pool, at $6,078,300. That includes $3,242,900 for pick No. 20 overall. Rounds 2-5 of the Draft continue on Thursday.

Incidentally, Mitchell also brings some social media clout. His girlfriend is University of Oregon softball player and TikTok star Haley Cruse, who has featured Mitchell in videos for her nearly half-million followers on the app.

When he spoke to reporters in a Zoom session, Mitchell was already wearing a Brewers cap.

“I might not take it off for a while,” he said. “I’m excited.”

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The Draft continues today with Rounds 2-5. The MLB Network preview show begins at 4 p.m. CT, with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. CT. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on the Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.