Mitchell: From oil patch to pro ball

jamie mitchell

* C Jamie Mitchell (Calgary, Alta.) wasn’t drafted in 2013 or 2014, but Tampa Bay Rays scout Paul  Kirsch made the call to sign the former Northwest Nazarene Crusader. ….  

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Dan Russell

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Jamie Mitchell owns many athletic accomplishments.

The Calgary native has been to Hanover, Germany for the 2003 Trampoline World championships for tumbling, he’s won hockey’s Alberta Cup and the National bantam championships, and he’s represented Alberta in the 2009 Canada Summer Games.

And just because he’s at spring training as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, that doesn’t mean he’s not keeping tabs on his Calgary Flames.

“I’m hoping they’re gonna make the playoffs, that’s my goal here,” said the catcher.

“That’s my goal, I keep telling everyone, even though I have nothing to do with it,” Mitchell said. “I mean I feel like everyone in Calgary is the same way, they just feel like part of that team.”

The Rays signed Mitchell, whose cousin Joe Colbourne plays for the Flames, in April of 2014.

He played 18 games last season in the Gulf Coast league, hitting .250 driving in three runs with three doubles.

While the six-footer “grew up playing hockey like every Canadian,” Mitchell started taking baseball seriously after winning the nationals with the Calgary Cubs in 2005.

He gives much credit to the environment there with helping him develop into the player he is today.

“I was the youngest one on the team by a year or two, and getting up and playing with these older kids, seeing what they were – how they handled themselves in the situations that they were in, it definitely played a key role, made me grow up fast,” said Mitchell, who’s at his second camp with the Rays organization.

That the 25-year-old is here at all is quite an achievement, given how his senior year at Northwest Nazarene University fell apart.

Already playing through one broken hand, a check-swing broke the other. Mitchell was expecting to be selected in the 2013 draft but the injury dropped his stock enough for him to be passed over.

Worse, he still had student loans to pay. He found work in the oil patches of Crown Point and Fort McMurray, Alta. where he stayed for over six months.

But it wasn’t what he wanted to do forever.

“I wanted to give ball another try … so I went back to the PBA (Prairie Baseball Academy) and Northwest Nazarene and started working out, getting in shape,” said Mitchell. “I got a call one day from a scout, Paul Kirsch from the Rays, and he was like, ‘Hey man are you in shape, are you good to go?’

“The next day I’m in Florida getting a physical. It happened that fast it was like a dream come true.”

He was one of three Canadians signed after the draft along with RHP Zak Miller (Surrey, BC) of the Arizona State Sun Devils, signed by the Los Angeles Angels and C Robert Tavone, Jr. (Whitby, Ont.) of Urbana University Black Knights, signed by the Atlanta Braves.

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