Trade puts light back on Mitchell

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's need to pay cash for a backup outfielder Monday brings to light all of the issues that have continued to torment highly-regarded prospect Jared Mitchell.

The former first-round draft pick, whom the White Sox continue to hold in high regard, can't seem to catch a break and the White Sox's acquisition of Casper Wells from the Oakland Athletics on Monday only seems to highlight that.

The early-season injury to Dayan Viciedo, and the fact that the team started the season with only four outfielders, has brought the White Sox's major-league ready depth into focus. On the lower levels, the White Sox have some of the most impressive outfield talent around, but when it comes to players who can jump into the major leagues now, it isn't nearly as strong.

Jordan Danks has already been recalled and Blake Tekotte, who had 30 games of big-league experience before this season, was up for just a short stint. But Tekotte was sent back down so he can get playing time and not regress while sitting on the bench.

It still might have been a reach to call up Mitchell, who only had 36 games of Triple-A experience last year, but the White Sox might have been willing to let him test the waters as Viciedo's everyday replacement had he been prepared to play.

The problem was that after a solid spring training, Mitchell struggled so much out of the gate at Charlotte that he was sent down to Double-A Birmingham recently. Then at Birmingham he went on the disabled list with an oblique injury, the same injury that felled Viciedo.

His oblique injury happened in Birmingham and was not tied to his early struggles at Charlotte, according to the White Sox.

Mitchell is still supposed to represent the first wave of top White Sox outfield prospects to reach the major leagues with Trayce Thompson, Keenyn Walker and Courtney Hawkins making the same move in seasons to come.

Mitchell can't avoid frustrating injuries, though, and it all goes back to his ankle tendon tear during a spring training game in 2010 that caused him to miss an entire season. As a part-time football and baseball player at LSU, Mitchell needed all the time he could get in a baseball-only setting and that injury was a significant blow to his development.

The argument certainly can be made that without the ankle injury, Mitchell is in the major leagues already instead of injured again and sitting at Double-A.

So the White Sox went out and obtained Wells, who will be playing for his fourth organization already this season. Wells started with the Seattle Mariners, was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, was designated for assignment and traded to the A's on April 22 for cash considerations.

Now the White Sox have paid the same cash considerations for the 28-year-old Wells, who is a lifetime .244 hitter with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs in 244 big-league games over the past four seasons. In addition to the Mariners and A's, he has also played in the major leagues for the Detroit Tigers, who made him a 14th-round draft pick in 2005 out of Towson University.

The right-handed hitter figures to split time with the left-handed bats of Danks and Dewayne Wise until Viciedo returns, by the middle of May at the earliest.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Wells, left-hander Leyson Septimo was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.