So far, 2013 isn’t going as Mitch Brown had hoped, but there is certainly still reason for optimism surrounding the Lake County Captains young right hander.
At just 19 years old, Brown is just about to turn the calendar on his first year as a professional baseball player. He has had some mixed results thus far, but overall, his attitude is upbeat and optimistic.
“It’s been a great experience for me so far,” Brown said. “(The Captains) give you everything you need to be successful and kind of put you in the right position. It’s awesome.”
Awesome has been the word to describe Brown’s pitching ability for his entire life, as he went into last season’s draft as the 44th rated prospect by Baseball America. In 54 innings as a high school senior, Brown put up a 7-1 record with a 0.91 ERA at Rochester Century High School in Minnesota. He was named Minnesota Baseball Gatorade Player of the Year and struck out 108 batters during the regular season. Hopes were high as Brown was projected to be the first player out of Minnesota to be drafted in the first round since Joe Mauer (No. 1 overall, 2001) and the first Minnesotan pitcher to ever be drafted in baseball’s first round. Rumors circulated that Brown may be drafted by his hometown Minnesota Twins as well.
As it turned out, Brown fell into the second round of the draft and was selected by the Indians with the 79th overall pick. Brown was anything but disappointed in getting drafted by his hometown team’s division rivals.
“Obviously, every kid in Minnesota dreams about growing up and playing for his hometown team and becoming the next Joe Mauer,” Brown said, “but it worked out perfect for me. I couldn’t be happier with the team I’m with.”
Getting drafted into professional baseball is an amazing experience for any young athlete and Brown was certainly no exception.
“On draft day, it was a pretty emotional time for me and my family,” Brown said. “Just knowing that all the work and time we put in was all worth it. It was pretty emotional and very gratifying.”
Brown’s initial results were very gratifying for the Indians organization as well, as the 18 year old pitched very well in his first season of professional baseball. In eight starts for the AZL Indians, Brown posted a 2-0 record with a 3.58 ERA. Brown struck out 26 batters in 27.2 innings and walked only 10. He credits hard work as the reason that he has made it to where he has.
“I think my biggest strength is my work ethic and my passion for the game,” Brown said. “The reason that I do everything I do on the baseball field is because I love the game of baseball. It drives me to be the best I can.”
Now, Brown finds himself on the Captains roster, opening the season in the starting rotation as one of the younger players on the team. His welcome to the league was a rude one, as Brown failed to make it out of the first inning in his first start. Through five games, Brown has struggled to adjust as of yet and finds himself with a 1-1 record and an 11.49 ERA. He has walked 11 batters and thrown five wild pitches and was placed on the seven day disabled list after his fifth start. A good student of the game, Brown knows what he needs to work on in order to get better.
“One of the things I need to work on is my off-speed (pitches),” Brown said. “I want to be able to throw all of my pitches for strikes and if I have better control of my off-speed pitches then I’ll be in a better position to be successful.”
The one statistic that has not been a disappointment for Brown, however, has been his strikeouts. Through 15.2 innings, he has struck out an impressive 18 batters. Hopefully, as Brown heals and comes back from his injury, the fans will get to see more of the good that Brown brings to the table.
“(The fans) can expect to see a hard working guy,” Brown said. “I’m not flashy and I’m not the fanciest player. I’m going to do everything I can to get my job done and I’m going to work hard while I’m doing it.”
Photo: Lake County Captains