The Royals have agreed to a deal with eighth overall pick Blake Mitchell, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). Mitchell will receive a $4.9MM bonus, below the $5,980,100 slot price attached to the eighth overall selection.
The 18-year-old Mitchell is a high schooler from Texas who had committed to LSU, but he’ll now forego college ball and start his pro career. Mitchell and Kyle Teel (from the University of Virginia) were considered the two best catching prospects of this year’s draft class, and Mitchell was taken ahead of Teel on draft night, as Teel lasted until the Red Sox selected him with the 14th overall pick. Mitchell was rated as the 14th-best prospect of the overall draft class by Pipeline, with Baseball America (15th), Keith Law (20th), Fangraphs (20th), and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (29th) all giving somewhat varied first-round evaluations.
The pundits feel Mitchell needs to cut down on his strikeouts and improve his contact hitting in general, but his left-handed swing and approach hints at some quality power potential. Defensively, Mitchell’s natural athleticism lends itself to pitch-blocking, and he has an outstanding throwing arm that will give pause to would-be basestealers. The arm strength is no surprise since Mitchell was also an intriguing pitching prospect, and Pipeline’s scouting report felt he could have been selected as a pitcher alone before the end of the second round. However, Mitchell will stick to catching, and he now projects as Kansas City’s long-term successor to Salvador Perez behind the plate.