When this story was in its infancy stage, it was supposed to be about the newest MLBbro, Cal Mitchell getting his first chance to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis after showing improvement in the Pirates’ minor league system.
With the Pirates struggling so much with depth in the outfield, our MLBbro found himself with a golden opportunity to show what he had over this past weekend in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
In his 10th game spanning 37 plate appearances, rookie Cal Mitchell had his first of many “Can’t forget” moments as he hit his first career home run.
This fifth inning launch off Zach Gallen broke a scoreless tie and gave the Pirates a lead that they never relinquished. Mitchell is now one of seven rookies that are currently on a roster that is supplying offensive production that most did not see coming.
“It’s cool. It’s guys that I’ve played with for a long time, like Travis, and guys like I recently met last year, like Jack,” Mitchell said. “We’re all great friends with each other and all have been fighting our way up here as long as we’ve been Pirates. It’s cool to be here together now.”
But our MLBbro’s journey to the professional level might be more interesting than his first career home run over the weekend.
Not every ball player had a mentor that is up for election for the Baseball Hall of Fame such as Black Ace Dave Stewart, who was one of the all-time great right-handed pitchers of his era. His resume shows how lucky Cal Mitchell was to be able to play for Stewart’s Easton A’s from the ages of 11 to 13.
Now 23 years of age and well into his MLB journey, Mitchell says he didn’t realize the kinds of jewels that were being bestowed upon him by the 20-game winner and mound technician known as “Smoke.”
“It’s wild, Mitchell said. “When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the gravity of it until now. Having him in my life helps with everything. How to handle yourself on the field. What the big leagues was going to be like or what the big leagues is like now.”
“He’s a great friend, Mitchell said. “He’s knowledgeable on lots of things about baseball and life, just how to navigate this new thing that I’m doing. It’s invaluable.”
But our MLBbro didn’t just have the advantage of getting an encyclopedia’s worth of baseball knowledge from a MLBbro icon, the 2017 second round pick also is a product of the new MLB Diversity Programs which identifies, develops, supports and cultivates young Black talent, providing them with resources, professional training and educational opportunities that aren’t readily available to them.
Mitchell utilized the MLB Diversity Pipeline and parlayed it into a roster spot on the Pirates.
Mitchell placed 25th on the MLB Pipeline list with 38 hits in 124 plate appearances that included nine doubles, five home runs with 26 RBI. That put him on Pittsburgh’s radar when they ranked him 7th in 2019.
Now he’s ready to secure his place as a mainstay in the MLB mix. Congratulations to Cal Mitchell on his first homer from MLBbro.com.
Ken Griffey Sr. is one of the distinguished former MLB players, coaches and executives lending their expertise to the development of Black & brown players at The Hank Aaron Invitational in Vero Beach, Florida this week and next.
Ken Griffey Sr. was playing the outfield for the Big Red Machine when Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth on the all-time Home Run list with 714. He also caught the last out ever made by the great Willie Mays in 1973. The father of “The Kid” shares some of the most memorable moments of his 19-year career.
If you’re searching for the best Black baseball talent of today and the future, look no further than the Hank Aaron Invitational in Vero Beach, Florida, named after the greatest home run hitter to ever grace the diamond.
With Aaron’s unfortunate passing in January of 2021 and Black players being systemically eliminated from the game, the Invitational bearing Aaron’s name has become more impactful, important and necessary than ever.
“I’m humbled to have this program named in my honor and thrilled the showcase game will be played at SunTrust Park,” said Aaron, a few years before his passing, about the event which was originally called the Elite Invitational, “I applaud MLB and the Braves in their efforts to continue to assist with outreach so that opportunities are available to all.”
The Invitational currently has more than 100 alumni either playing in MLB, Club Minor League systems, or on the collegiate level.
Thursday completes Week 1 of the Hank Aaron Invitational, where 100 diverse amateur baseball athletes from over 17 states come to the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, in Vero Beach for a Black baseball extravaganza.
The first week of the amateur development camp began on Sunday, July 18. The event provides training and instruction from former Major League Players, coaches, and baseball executives for Black and brown ballers in the 2024 and 2025 graduating High School classes.
The week also includes special guest presentations and addresses. The Hank Aaron Invitational was created and developed by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation (a joint initiative by MLB and MLBPA) to support efforts that focus on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and internationally.
Following is a list of former MLB and MiLB players and coaches who will serve as instructors at the event. The wealth of knowledge is unrivaled by any developmental program in the country.
Former MLB Players as On-Field Coaches
Ken Griffey, Sr.
Former MiLB Players, Managers, Coaches & Executives
Tony Reagins, MLB Chief Baseball Development Officer
Del Matthews, MLB Vice President of Baseball Development
Dave Winfield, MLBPA Special Advisor to the Executive Director
Jeffrey Hammonds, MLBPA Associate Director, Player Programs, and Initiatives
Leonor Colon, MLBPA Senior Director, International and Domestic Player Operations
Bo Porter, MLB Consultant on Coaching Development
Gregor Blanco, MLB Senior Director, Baseball Operations
Stay tuned for more live coverage from Hank Aaron Invitational with MLBbro.com