BURLINGTON, IA — It was a frustrating indoctrination to full-season ball last year for one of the Oakland A’s selections in the 2016 draft, but the right-hander has put all of that behind him and is thriving in his second Midwest League go-around with the Low-A Beloit Snappers.
All Mitchell Jordan has done since returning north this spring is shave more than three and a half runs off his ERA from 2017. The former Stetson hurler saw his ERA balloon to 5.78 during a 2-10 season with the Snappers a year ago.
But all of that is ancient history now for the 2016 10th-rounder, as he’s posted a 2.15 ERA in his first 29.1 innings of work this spring. Jordan also did not let the fact he didn’t break camp with Beloit out of spring get him down.
“There wasn’t a spot up here yet, but I tried not to think about it too much and kept working,” Jordan said. “It didn’t matter where I was going to throw. I was disappointed being in extended, but I kept my head down, threw the ball and hoped for the best. I worked hard in the offseason and threw the ball well. I knew a spot would open up sometime. I’m taking advantage of my opportunities.
“I got here about a month ago and have just been keeping my head down and working. Coming back, I’ve found some comfort here in Beloit. I’m working hard and throwing one pitch at a time. I’m not thinking ahead and that’s really opened things up for me.”
A 2017 chalk full of adversity led to an even more determined Jordan going into the offseason. He allowed 49 earned runs on 97 hits in 76.1 innings, making seven starts and appearing in 25 games overall. Opposing MWL hitters batted .317 against Jordan (this season they are hitting just .229).
“My preparation has made a big difference,” he said. “I got after it and got to spring training really just focused on me. I got after it in side sessions and throwing programs, focusing on what I could do to be a better pitcher. I felt good in spring training and in extended. I’ve kept it rolling so far out here.”
Jordan opened his second full season of professional ball with three successful appearances as a long reliever, allowing just three runs on six hits in 10 innings.
He started his first game on May 10th at home against Lansing and surrendered just one earned run on four hits in 6.1 innings, striking out three and walking none. That led to a stretch of 8.1 scoreless innings across his next two appearances, as Jordan scattered six hits while posting an 8:0 K:BB rate.
Having more command of his four offerings, which includes a two-seam fastball, cutter, curveball and change-up, has been the secret to Jordan’s success.
“A big thing for me and any pitcher is fastball command,” Jordan said. “That’s the most important thing I’ve worked on this year. I’m not going to blow it by a bunch of guys, but if I can locate my fastball it opens the door for everything.
“Then it’s just having confidence in my stuff this year, especially throwing the ball inside to lefties and righties … I don’t feel like I did enough of that last year. This year, I’m really attacking inside off the plate and that’s opened up some things.”
The newest challenge for Jordan has been to sharpen up the newest pitch in his arsenal.
“At the end of last year, I introduced a cutter that I’ve been working on with [minor league pitching coordinator] Gil [Patterson],” Jordan said. “Now I’m trying to incorporate a two-seam into the mix to introduce more balance in my two fastballs. There’s always something to work on during side sessions.”
Jordan hopes to continue carrying over his recent success, as he looks to get more opportunities in a Beloit starting rotation that will be taxed the next few weeks with multiple doubleheaders.
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