MWL notes: White excels despite short leash

Dodgers' second-rounder yet to yield earned run in seven appearances

Mitchell White has a 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and 19 strikeouts over 14 innings. (Amanda Ray/Great Lakes Loons)

By Curt Rallo / Special to MiLB.com | August 11, 2016 10:00 AM

Mitchell White spent more time as a bat boy than he did as a pitcher by the time his second year on the Santa Clara campus rolled around.

Plagued by injuries, White only pitched 15 to 20 innings in high school, by his estimate. He only had one scholarship offer. Santa Clara pitching coach Gabe Ribas saw White pitch a bullpen session for his travel team.

"It was one of those periods where I could throw," White said. "I just got lucky."

When White was cleared to pitch after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, his first college test was against national power Vanderbilt in Nashville.

"It was like 10 degrees," White said. "It was crazy. It was windy … terrible weather … but it was fun. It was a cool experience. I threw two innings, had a couple of K's. It was good."

White survived his baptism by fire in the college ranks and finished the 2015 season as Santa Clara's closer. In 2016, he was a starter and had a 3.72 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 27 walks. He pitched 92 innings over 15 starts in 2016.

While some teams didn't pay attention to White as the draft approached, the Dodgers honed in on the 6-foot-4, 207-pound right-hander who was hitting 96 mph on radar guns.

"I had a good idea I was going to be drafted, but second round wasn't what I expected," White said. "At one point, I was told maybe Rounds 5-8. Then, right before the Draft, I was told expect around Rounds 3-6."

Instead, the Dodgers selected White in the second round.

"When the second round was going on, I was playing video games," White said. "I wasn't even watching the Draft, because I wasn't thinking I would be drafted on the first day. I wasn't expecting it. It turned out to be a fun day."

Because White pitched 92 innings for Santa Clara, the Dodgers have had him on a two-inning limit for each outing for the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League.

"I'm on a tight leash, but it's alright," White said. "I come back from the second inning, and I'm like, now let's go. That's the fun, when you flip over a lineup and you get a feel for things. You get into a rhythm. But I understand it. It's smart, because I do have a lot of innings on my arm."

White has had an impressive run despite being on a short leash. In 14 innings, he has not allowed a run and has only given up five hits. He's struck out 19 and only walked four.

"The things we read in the reports about [White] are what we're seeing here, the pitches he has, how his pitches moves, the life his pitches have," Great Lakes pitching coach Bobby Cuellar said. "We're throwing him at a level that will give him competition so we can see what he has. We want him to keep on pitching and learning.

"What impresses me about Mitchell is that he pays attention," Cuellar continued. "You just have to talk to him about something once. He wants to talk baseball, and he wants to learn.

"The best thing about baseball is learning where you're at, fitting in and enjoying it, but it's a different work ethic. There's a lot to learn. You throw every day. You have bullpens, you have games every day, you're on a bus, you're off a bus.... Those are things that are hardest for a lot of people to adjust to."

White said he's relishing the opportunities he's received despite the adversity.

"There was doubt. It had been a year and a half since I pitched," White said. "I was wondering, 'Could I do this, could I pitch again?' When I got the chance, it was fun to finally get out there and show what I could do.

"When I was out, I realized how much the game means to me. The rehab was a long process, and it wasn't fun, but I'm better for it, physically and especially mentally."

In brief

Streak on hold: Fort Wayne catcher Austin Allen has a 22-game hitting streak on hold. He extended the hitting streak to 22 games Monday, just one game shy of the franchise record set by Sean Burroughs in 1999. During the hitting streak, Allen is 34-for-87 (.391) with two doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs. Allen is hitting .321 (fifth in the league). On Tuesday, Allen was hit by a pitch in the first inning and left the game. Per Minor League Baseball rules, his hitting streak was not snapped.

Wild win: Great Lakes didn't need a hit to push three runs across in the top of the eighth to tie its game with South Bend on Saturday. The Loons used a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly and a groundout to tie the score at 4-4. In the bottom of the eighth, the Loons then helped the Cubs pull ahead for a 5-4 lead. Eloy Jimenez reached base when he was hit by a pitch. Jimenez then scored the decisive run in the Cubs' 5-4 victory thanks to three consecutive wild pitches by Great Lakes pitcher Angel German.

Snapper struggles: Low offensive numbers have hampered Beloit during a seven-game losing streak. The Snappers, who have lost eight games in a row on the road, have scored a total of five runs on their current streak. On Monday, the snappers struck out 17 times in a 7-2 loss to Clinton.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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