SoCal prep prospect Mitchell overcomes adversity

Orange Lutheran star has dealt with Type 1 diabetes since third grade

June 11th, 2017

With every game and every move on the baseball field in front of scouts, Garrett Mitchell is checking off boxes.

Athletic ability? Off the charts. Tools? Every single one a player needs to be a star. Character? Top-notch, according to teammates and coaches.

And then there's the fact that Mitchell has been a Type 1 diabetic since third grade. In other words, adversity isn't a setback for the speedy and powerful 6-foot-2 center fielder from Orange Lutheran (Calif.) High School who is committed to UCLA but could be selected by a team in the higher rounds of the upcoming 2017 MLB Draft.

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It's simply more fuel for Mitchell to go after his big league dreams.

"Obviously, it's super-exciting," Mitchell said recently when asked how he feels about the fact that he could soon be the member of a professional organization. "I'm blessed to have this opportunity through all the hard work that I've been putting in that's been paying off for me.

"But I've just got to have fun finishing high school and not worry too much about that, because it's not here yet. It's not here yet and I can't worry about it."

Mitchell possesses a rare combination of speed -- he has been clocked under four seconds from home to first base -- and defense while still developing his left-handed power-hitting tool. Scouts agree that it's all within him. Consistency, polish and seasoning: those are the aspects of his game that need to be developed.

"I'm never satisfied with my game at all," Mitchell said recently after a Trinity League game against another Southern California prep powerhouse, JSerra High School. "I think that I can work on every part of my game -- my speed, my throwing, my hitting.

"But the one thing I get knocked down for the most is the ability to have a consistent swing and hit the ball for power. So for me, just trying to stay consistent with my swing, staying short to the ball and not getting big, and getting upward tilt on my baseball to get backspin on it and drive the ball is what I'm working on the most."

No one associated with Mitchell seems to doubt that his persistence and work ethic will get him to where he wants to go. The raw tools are simply overwhelming.

"On the field, you're getting a guy that's as talented as anybody I've ever seen," Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba says. "You want to talk about five tools that you're looking for in the Major Leagues, it's pretty hard to find somebody with better tools than what he's got.

"And the character of Garrett is off the charts. It's unbelievable. He's one of the finest young men. He's been raised the right way, and he's just a great kid."

Borba describes Mitchell as a quiet but effective member of a clubhouse who sets an example. Borba predicts that if Mitchell is drafted and decides to sign with a Major League organization, his Rookie ball teammates will see right away that he's the real deal.

"He is a leader," Borba says. "He doesn't speak often, but when he does, they're powerful words. He's always going to be doing the right things, and people can look up to him to know that he's doing the right things.

"I think he's going to be a mentor to younger kids just like he's a mentor to younger kids in our program now, and ideally, he's just the right guy to have in the clubhouse. He does everything well."

Mitchell says that part of the equation is more important to him than numbers on a stat sheet, and that's the attitude he'll take with him to wherever he might land in the next step on his baseball journey.

"I would say that I'm a great teammate," Mitchell says. "I'm always lifting guys up, and when times are tough, I'm still hanging in there, lifting guys up.

"I don't care if it's Rookie ball and guys are older than me or younger than me, same in college. I think that with the wisdom that I have and the wisdom that other people have that we could bounce stuff off each other and it would be a really good thing."