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Yankees righty Mitchell strikes out 1204/14/2014 11:12 PM ET
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
For the first time in 2014, Bryan Mitchell felt like he could do no wrong.
"Today was just one of those days," he said. "I really had all my pitches working for me."
With his whole arsenal at his disposal, the Yankees' No. 14 prospect struck out a career-high 12 batters over six innings for his first Double-A win as Trenton downed Akron, 2-0, in Eastern League action.
Mitchell (1-2) allowed just four hits and walked two, slimming his season ERA to 5.14. It was the 22-year-old's sixth start for the Thunder dating back to 2013. In those outings, his ERA is 3.31 with 36 strikeouts and 13 walks in 31 2/3 innings.
The 2009 16th-rounder had allowed eight earned runs in eight innings during his first two starts this season.
"I felt like I was in the zone a lot more than what I have been so far this season," he said. "For me, the big key is getting ahead of hitters. Once I get behind, that's when I'm in trouble. I threw strikes tonight."
Two things helped Mitchell find the zone more effectively. For starters, the Reidsville, N.C., native made a mechanical adjustment, focusing on keeping his front side tighter during his delivery. The adjustment helped with the command of all his pitches and also led to sharper spin and control of his cutter -- a pitch he began throwing late in 2013.
"My arm was kind of winging out," he said. "When I do that, I can't stay behind the cutter as well. Tonight, I closed off the front side a little better, and that helped me stay through the ball."
Mitchell then was able to find a mental groove, allowing him to cruise through the game's middle innings.
He ran into trouble in the fifth, though. Tyler Holt led off the frame with a line-drive single, then Jerrud Sabourin reached on a throwing error by Rob Segedin.
With runners at the corners and no outs, Mitchell jumped ahead of leadoff man and Indians' No. 5 prospect Tyler Naquin 0-2, then stuck out him out swinging with a 1-2 offering.
Next up was Cleveland's top prospect, Francisco Lindor, who had already singled and walked in the game. Mitchell struck out Lindor on three pitches then got Joe Wendle to fly out to right field to escape the jam.
The next inning, Mitchell issued one walk but struck out the side to lock down the career high.
As MLB.com's prospect team noted in its Yankees' rankings, Mitchell has flashed excellent stuff as a Minor Leaguer, but since signing him, "The Yankees have waited for his production to catch up with his potential."
The right-hander began 2013 with Class A Advanced Tampa, where he posted a 5.12 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts). He posted a 1.48 groundout-to-flyout ratio and struck out 7.39 batters per nine innings, but also walked 3.77 batters per nine a year after walking 5.40 per nine with Class A Charleston.
Mitchell said he hopes to build off Monday's momentum, working first and foremost to continue getting ahead to Double-A hitters.
"It was really good for me," he said. "A big confidence boost, especially after my first two starts didn't go as well as I had hoped. I just want to keep that ball rolling now."
New York's No. 6 prospect Tyler Austin drove in the Thunder's only runs in the first with a line-drive single to left.