Friday, September 26, 2008

Notes From Tennessee

RT Staff Note: The Tennessee Messenger ran a story on a local scout turned recruiting advisor Don Mitchell. Here's the story:

By: By KENNETH COKER, Messenger Sports Reporter

It’s been said that there is a right way to do things.
If that’s true, then former Atlanta Braves scout and Arizona Diamondbacks scouting director Don Mitchell is hopeful he was able to steer some student-athletes and their parents onto the correct course when it comes to the college baseball recruiting process.

“Essentially, it boils down to the fact that you aren’t choosing the college; the college is choosing you,” Mitchell, who lived in Union City during the 1980s and is married to the former Michelle Moss, said Tuesday at a presentation of Recruiting Realities within the confines of Elam Stadium. “If you get a letter from a university that says, ‘Thanks for your interest in our program,’ that’s not the type you want to get. The type of letter a player wants to get is one that says, ‘We have scouted you and we believe you are one of the top players in your area.’
“Regardless of what university that is, it shows they are interested in you if they come to see you play.”

Mitchell, who helped to draft Reggie Sanders and Jim Thome during his career as a scout, brought a message on Tuesday, telling a group of Union City Fall League baseball players and parents that many times guardians and prospective student-athletes set unrealistic goals.

However, the real task at hand is far away from the diamond.

“There are three objectives really when it comes to finding a school that’s right if you’re serious about playing college baseball,” Mitchell, who played his college baseball at UT Martin, told the crowd. “No. 1 is to get a education; No. 2 is to go somewhere where you’re going to get playing time and No. 3 is to get it paid for.”
Throughout his career, Mitchell scouted with the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates after his minor league playing days within the Cincinnati Reds organization were over and his advice is something that Union City High School baseball coach Jeremy Maddox believes will help both students and parents alike.

“What he’s talking about tonight is something I went through as a player after I was a player following my freshman year at junior college,” Maddox said. “I was getting letters from these big Division I schools and my mentality was that I had to play D-I baseball. Then, I got a letter from this NAIA school — Berry College in Georgia — and at the time, I discarded it because I was so set in my ways of going to a Division I school.

“Little did I know I’d end up there and it turned out to be a great decision because I developed more as a player and I got signed to a minor league contract by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.”

Now residing in Scottsdale, Ariz., Mitchell spends much of his time traveling the United States to offer seminars by the company, which was founded by former college athletic director Jack Rankens, to prospective college baseball players in order to educate the students and their parents on what to expect from the recruiting process.

“Basically, I want to keep things in perspective and realistic when it comes to what opportunities are out there for a baseball player to get a college scholarship,” Mitchell said. “I don’t really miss scouting today. One of my seasons with the Diamondbacks (1998) I was on 172 flights and I think that kind of burnt me out.
“That said, all I ever wanted to do was have a job in baseball and this keeps me in the game.”

And maybe, Mitchell’s advice can help get an Obion Countian into that fold.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at

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