Brewers top prospect Garrett Mitchell made his big-league debut in the field Aug. 27 and found himself in the starting lineup and playing center field for the Brewers on Aug. 28, the second first-round draft selection to debut for the Brewers this season (along with pitcher Ethan Small).
The Brewers, who could use an infusion of life after an offensive struggle since the start of August, added Mitchell to the active roster when Jonathan Davis was placed on the injured list.
Here is what you need to know about Mitchell.
Garrett Mitchell was drafted in the first round in 2020
Mitchell, who turns 24 next week, was taken 20th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, a particularly strange draft set during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Selected out of UCLA, the outfielder signed with the Brewers for a $3.24 million bonus.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected Mitchell in the first round, with the twentieth overall pick, in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft. He signed with the Brewers on July 7 and received a $3.2 million bonus and earned a trip to spring training in 2021, but he wasn’t able to make his minor league debut until last year because of the pandemic’s interference.
He has struggled at points in his minor league career, but not recently
Mitchell started at Advanced Class A Wisconsin and fared well in 29 games, posting a 1.128 OPS last year. But at Class AA Biloxi, it was tough sledding, when he posted a .554 OPS last year in 129 at-bats. He improved this year to the tune of a .781 OPS at AA this year before a promotion, which perhaps came as a surprise given that he wasn’t dominating at AA Biloxi.
But at Class AAA Nashville, he flourished, batting .343 with a .435 on-base percentage and .901 OPS in his first 85 plate appearances at Nashville. He homered once and hit six doubles, with nine stolen bases in as many attempts.
He wasn’t the obvious player to recall from talent-loaded Nashville
The Brewers have struggled in center field more than any other position when it comes to offensive production this season, but the club had multiple options at Nashville.
Mitchell is actually ranked fifth by MLB.com, behind two of his OUTFIELD teammates at Nashville and ahead of another outfielder who also could have gotten the call.
Sal Frelick, the No. 2 prospect in those same rankings, has been eviscerating Class AAA to the tune of a .402 batting average and .973 OPS in 95 plate appearances. The first-round pick in 2021, like Mitchell, bats left-handed. Mitchell is more than a year and a half older and has played twice as much in center field at Nashville, which perhaps sheds light on how the Brewers prioritize their defensive projections. But Frelick is also considered a center field prospect and has played there at AAA.
More: Will the Brewers call up Sal Frelick, Brice Turang or another top prospect soon? Here’s what David Stearns had to say.
Joey Wiemer (No. 3 prospect) has also played center field but projects more as a corner outfielder and continues to try and cut down strikeouts.
Esteury Ruiz (No. 8 prospect) has blazing speed and was just acquired in the deal that sent Josh Hader to San Diego, though he may still be a work in progress defensively.
Mitchell also spent time from May to early July on the injured list with an oblique injury this year.
He’s married to a softball star who’s cultivated her own following
In 2021, Mitchell married Haley Cruse, a professional softball player who starred at Oregon and has her own following.
Cruse was first-team All-Pac 12 as a senior at Oregon and signed with the USSSA Pride professional softball team based in Florida.
The outfielder led Oregon in hitting for four straight seasons and finished on the school’s all-time leaderboard in several categories
She also has nearly 830,000 followers on TikTok and nearly 120,000 on Twitter. She and Oregon teammate Jasmine Sievers grew to social-media fame in 2019 for a series of dance videos.
The couple started dating just before the pandemic.
He manages Type 1 diabetes
Mitchell has played with Type 1 diabetes since elementary school but still became one of the top players in the nation.
Asked how he has managed his condition while becoming an elite college player, Mitchell said he has consulted many times with former major-league outfielder Sam Fuld, who played eight seasons with that chronic disease.
“I’ve been able to keep in touch with him and have some conversations,” Mitchell said. “He wished me good luck and said he hoped the best for me and my family. That was nice to hear from someone who played with diabetes in the major leagues. He shared a lot of good advice for me.”
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JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Get to know outfielder Garrett Mitchell, Brewers’ top prospect