Joe Mitchell had already been in pro baseball for seven seasons. He'd made the Brewers AAA club in Denver the year before, playing at third.
But for 1990, the Brewers had other plans for Mitchell, as a catcher, according to The Milwaukee Journal. It would give him another tool to get to the majors, the paper wrote. Because, if he was going to get there, it would be as a utility man.
Mitchell had been taken by the Brewers deep in the 1983 draft, in the 24th round out of Morehead State. He had been a stand-out at Morehead and at his high school, Deming High in Mount Olivet, Kent.
With Morehead State, Mitchell kept his team alive in the NCAA baseball tournament in May 1983, with three doubles, two RBIs and three runs scored, according The Associated Press.
Mitchell's best hitting years in the minors were at single-A Stockton in 1986 and AA El Paso in 1987. At Stockton, Mitchell hit .289 with 9 home runs, one of those home runs a three-run blast that helped the Ports to a win June 11, 1986, according to The Modesto Bee.
His 1987 year with El Paso, Mitchell hit .291 with 24 home runs. With El Paso again in 1988, he still hit 18 and .270. A Mitchell solo home run helped keep El Paso going in that year's playoffs.
At AAA Denver in 1989, Mitchell's batting average slipped to .249, but he still had 19 homers, one a two-run shot that helped the Zephyrs spoil a Ron Guidry comeback outing May 27. In another game that summer, July 22, Mitchell went 5-6, with a pair of two-run home runs, according to The Journal.
On his return to Denver in 1990, Mitchell played only 71 games, 20 of those as catcher. He hit .251 but his power was gone, hitting only four home runs. It was his last year in pro ball, he never made the majors.
Despite not making the majors, Mitchell can still be counted as a noteworthy attendee of Deming School in Mount Olivet. In a March 12, 2010 article in The Ledger Independent of Maysville, Kent., local school officials spoke of the need for a new facility, officials pointed out Mitchell, a 1980 graduate.
His game jersey is still displayed at the school 30 years later.
- Maysville Ledger Independent, March 12, 2010: New school still in running with general assembly