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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Browns once again in the house

Jeff Dahn        
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Jeff Brown settled his slight frame onto an aluminum bench next to one of the batting cages at Perfect Game USA headquarters on Sunday morning (Feb. 13), and prepared to watch his son, Mitchell Brown, pitch for, oh, maybe the millionth time.

Mitchell, a junior at Rochester (Minn.) Century High School, and his father Jeff, a computer technician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, were at Perfect Game for the PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase, the 13th PG event Mitchell has participated in since his freshman year in high school.

Mitchell has given the University of San Diego a verbal commitment but hasn’t signed a letter of intent yet. He still has two seasons of high school baseball remaining and there is still a lot of time for Jeff and Mitchell to keep attending PG events.

“He wants to see where his rankings are going to be. He always wants to improve every day and that’s what brings us back, I guess,” Jeff said.

“I just want to get better every time I come out, and last time I got a 9.5 (PG rating) and I’m kind of hoping for a 10 this time,” Mitchell said. “It’s really just kind of the will to get better.”

Mitchell Brown, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander, is Perfect Game’s top-ranked prospect in the state of Minnesota and No. 180 nationally in the class of 2012. He has what a Perfect Game blogger on Sunday called a “clean arm stroke” and his fastball touched 90 mph during his pitching session.

It’s that kind of performance that keeps Jeff bringing Mitchell back to these events.

“We’ve really enjoyed this and it keeps him coming back,” Jeff said. “He’s a competitor and he wants to be the best he can possibly be, and he’s worked hard at it to get where he’s at. We’ve just really enjoyed it. It’s helped 110 percent; this is where he got his start and I think it helped him tremendously. We can’t say enough about the exposure he’s getting with Perfect Game.”

Mitchell has received that attention at events as far-flung as Fort Myers, Fla.; San Diego; Goodyear, Ariz.; Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He’s not sure the coaches from San Diego would have found him in Rochester if he hadn’t had the opportunity to attend tournaments and showcases all across the country.

“It’s been really, really beneficial. I’m really glad I decided to come out and do this,” Mitchell said. “It’s been kind of a family thing and every body’s had to put in a little bit, but I’m really happy about it and I think I made a good decision.”

Mitchell won’t celebrate his 17th birthday until April 13, so he still has a lot of growing to do. He carries a 3.5 GPA and is smart enough to know he has to continue to work on his game.

“The one thing I’ve been told I have to work on a little bit more is just to try to get my mechanics in tune all the time,” Mitchell said. “I need to get the consistency with my mechanics.”

Mitchell Brown will play with his Rochester Century High School team in the spring and will return to play with the Minnesota Starz in a few tournaments this summer. He may also play in a tournament or two with Virginia-based Canes Baseball – he played with the Canes in the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in October.

Mitchell will then proceed through his senior year in high school in 2011-12, with an eye on continuing to improve. After that, it won’t be unrealistic to look toward the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft.

“I’m kind of excited, but at the same time I really don’t think you can look too far ahead,” Mitchell said. “I’m just focusing on getting better right now.”
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