Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 6/3/12

All Major League first round draft picks get plenty of publicity. As such, their performances are highly scrutinized. If they’ve accrued MLB time in spring training (sure, it’s exhibition but still) and played at the highest level of major national college football, the lights are even brighter.

Chicago White Sox top prospect Jared Mitchell, the 23rd overall selection in the 2009 MLB draft, has not only played SEC football and baseball, but also won championships.

He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, but turned it down to go back to school, where he won a College World Series with the LSU Tigers. Mitchell also excelled in college football, combining for 24 receptions and 274 yards as a wide receiver for the Tigers football team from 2006-08, including their National Championship season in 2007.

All of the lights have prepared him for dealing with the high expectations of being a #1 pick.

“It definitely helped me with the competition level. Moving up, you start seeing a lot more competition. I was bred into competition at LSU. We played against the best in the nation every day and I think that helps it a lot. It helps you deal with a lot of struggles because when you’re playing the best, it’s not always going to be easy,” Mitchell said on conference call.

I asked Mitchell what he gained from playing in the Cactus League against other Major Leaguers.

“Just getting able to see that level of competition and go out there and be even somewhat of a success helps to accomplish in your head that “Hey, you can play at that level!” Just to kind of see what those guys do and be around them in the clubhouse, how they carry themselves and go about their days helps a lot,” he responded.

Mitchell missed all of 2010 after rupturing a tendon in his ankle. He also had a very rough 2011, as it took him another season to fully recover from his very serious injury. Mitchell, now hitting .290 with a .917 OPS, 34 RBI and 11 SB with the AA Birmingham Barons, talked about getting back to being 100% healthy.

When you’re a first round pick, and highly scouted, there’s lots of comparisons of your game to established players. Mitchell was asked who he sees his game resembling the most.

“There’s players I like to watch, but I don’t know if I exactly play like them. I was a big fan of watching Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson play. Was a huge fan of Ken Griffey Jr. growing up. You take little things from everyone here and there but at the end of the day I’m Jared Mitchell and I’m going to try and be me, not anyone else. That’s just how I look at it,” he responded.

As always, huge thank yous go out to South Side Sox for the transcript and Marty Maloney for arranging the interview and of course to Jared Mitchell for agreeing to listen to our barrage of questions despite having a game to play in tonight.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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