Last Thursday the Washington Nationals added another arm to the growing number of pitchers heading to Spring Training next week, signing right-hander Mitch Atkins to a minor league contract. Atkins, 26, was originally a 7th Round pick out of high school in the 2004 Draft by the Chicago Cubs. He spent the 2011 season with the Baltimore Orioles organization, mostly in the minor leagues.
Atkins does have 22.2 innings under his belt at the Major League level, split between the Cubs and Orioles from 2009 through last season. He’s pitched to a 6.75 ERA during that limited time with a 1.897 WHIP, plagued mostly by a high rate of hits allowed (13.5 H/9). In three starts during the 2011 season Atkins saw highly mixed results. He lasted 6.0 innings in the first, a 4-2 Baltimore loss at Texas in which Atkins only allowed one earned run. His next two, however, weren’t quite as solid. He lasted on 1.2 innings at Boston his next time out, allowing 6 runs. Then last only 3.0 innings his last start, allowing three runs against Cleveland.
His minor league numbers, however, have been a little more consistent. He’s appeared in 183 games (165 starts) and pitched 929.2 innings in his minor league career. To date he’s 64-52 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.331 WHIP. He also boasts a career 7.3 K/9 rate.
It’s unclear how Atkins fits into the Nationals’ plans for the 2012 season, though in all likelihood he’ll head to Triple-A Syracuse where presumably he’ll compete for a spot in the Chiefs’ uncertain starting rotation. He could end up being nothing more than simply organizational filler but only time will tell how Atkins performs during the 2012 season.