On the back of this card, we learn that John Mitchell was the International League Pitcher of the Year in 1986. It must have been a down year for pitching in the IL because nothing screams out awesome from his pitching line that year. Mitchell finished 12-9 with a 3.39 ERA in 172.1 IP. Perhaps most forgettable of all is his pedestrian 1.41 K/BB ratio. Still, it was an encouraging season from a 20 year old in Triple-A.

Originally drafted by the Red Sox, the Mets got Mitchell in the Bob Ojeda deal. He won 16 games for the Red Soz Hi-A affiliate and followed that up with a 12-win campaign with a 2.70 ERA in Double-A before being acquired by the Mets. He certainly looked like a good prospect, especially given his youth.

Mitchell got a cup of coffee with the ’86 Mets, appearing in 10.1 IP and holding his own. But in 1987, the year where seemingly every pitcher got hurt, Mitchell joined the rotation in mid-May, getting the call to the majors to replace the injured Ojeda, and stayed there until the third week of August. He wasn’t awful but he wasn’t really good, either. The highlight of his season was a complete game victory over the Phillies on June 19, a game the Mets won, 8-1.

He was a depth starter and pressed into duty for 19 starts, he responded with a 4.11 ERA. It was a very good offensive year in ’87, so in 111.2 IP, he posted a 1.8 fWAR, which isn’t too shabby. It’s the type of year that could have been a springboard to a solid MLB career.

But the Mets still had a lot of pitching and Mitchell made just three more appearances for New York before being traded to the Orioles following the ’89 season in a deal that really didn’t work out for either team. Mitchell appeared in 24 games, making 17 starts, for the 78-win Orioles in what turned out to be the final MLB season of his career.

The 1988 Topps set, a junk-wax special, was in some ways similar to Mitchell – there just wasn’t a lot there. Mitchell was the last of a dying breed, pitchers who didn’t strike guys out. The ’88 Topps set went retro, with the team name in caps taking up most of the top of the card, just like what they did in ’86. And ’77, ’75, ’72, ’71 and ’64, too. It was one of the last of a dying breed, too. Topps went to the well again in 1990 but after that it didn’t release a base set with the team name in caps at the top of the card for the rest of the century.

2 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: 1988 John Mitchell

  • JimO

    John Mitchell – Wally Whitehurst – Brent Gaff were all the same and completely interchangeable.

    • Brian Joura

      Brent Gaff thanks you for remembering him, since no one else does!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: