Kyle Mitchell has wanted to play major college baseball his whole life.
He will soon be getting that chance.
“It’s just been something that I’ve been dreaming about my entire life,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell can stop dreaming. In August, he will transfer to the University of Hawaii as a junior and join the Rainbow Warriors, who play in the Big West Conference, as a pitcher.
Mitchell, a 2013 Vintage High School graduate who has pitched at Santa Rosa Junior College the last two years, signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Hawaii and play baseball on a scholarship. He plans to major in business with an emphasis in finance.
“My hard work paid off, but there’s more hard work to be done,” he said last week. “It’s another stepping stone and I’m just really excited. I got where I want to be and I’ve got to keep moving forward.”
Mitchell, a Napa resident, has been a starter for the last two years at Santa Rosa, helping contribute to the team’s success. Over that time, the Bear Cubs were 57-26 with back-to-back second-place finishes in the Big 8 Conference and postseason playoff appearances each year.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity, a fantastic way to go into a situation, travel and represent your school,” said Santa Rosa head coach Damon Neidlinger, who is a Napa High graduate. “They’re going to go across the country and play against great schools, play in front of large crowds.
“You’ve got to be mentally strong. You’ve got to have good stuff. You’re going to be challenged, and it forces you to really stay disciplined with what you’re doing and really stay mentally disciplined, mentally tough, because at that level you’re going to face guys who are good.”
As a freshman, Mitchell was 5-5 with a 1.95 earned run average in 13 games, 11 of which were starts, with one complete game. In 69 1/3 innings, he allowed 50 hits and 20 runs (15 earned). He walked 20, struck out 52 and gave up one home run. For his efforts, he was named honorable mention all-Big 8.
This past year, he pitched in 15 games, making seven starts, and was 5-2 with one save and a 3.41 ERA in 58 innings. He allowed 52 hits and 27 runs (22 earned), walked 20, struck out 47 and gave up three home runs.
“He’s always had abilities,” said Neidlinger. “Kyle was very, very competitive as a freshman. He just continued to mature. He’s a hardworking young guy. He really matured as a pitcher this last year.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Mitchell, a right-hander, throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and slider.
Mitchell, 20, played two years of varsity baseball at Vintage. He was an All-Monticello Empire League utility player, as he also played center field for the Crushers.
Mitchell also played on age-group teams in the Napa Valley Baseball Club, which is based out of Cleve Borman Field at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville.
This summer, he is playing for the Healdsburg Prune Packers, a collegiate-level team. He has made four starts so far and has also pitched in relief.
Hawaii (21-32 overall) wrapped up the 2015 season in May, losing 8-1 to Arizona at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. The Rainbow Warriors were 12-12 in the Big West Conference.
“I just want to go over there and have a chance to compete,” said Mitchell. “I have confidence that I can locate my pitches and I can get ahead of batters.”
The University of Hawaii is located in Honolulu. The Rainbow Warriors play at 4,312-seat Les Murakami Stadium.