Atwater native and professional baseball player wants to become Navy Seal

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Atwater's Drew Mitchel was looking at playing in the MLB after overcoming adversity this past year.

The left-handed pitcher is a graduate of Buhach Colony. He didn't receive a single college offer out of high school, so he tried the Junior College route.

After one year at Fresno City, he moved to San Diego to attend Grossmont College.

"I went there and was a sponge; I soaked in everything I could," he said. "Every time someone talked to me, I would just listen and soak in as much as I could. I would go home, write stuff down, everything I learned so I would never forget it."

He transferred to San Jose State and had two successful years for the Spartans. In 2018, he was named the Co-Mountain West Pitcher of the Year.

His senior year, he led the conference in strikeouts. He was drafted by the San Diego padres in the 8th round.

But it's what happened three days before the draft that altered his baseball career. Mitchel suffered an injury while wake boarding three days before the draft.

"I didn't tell my agent, I didn't tell scouts," he said. "I was like, 'I'm not ruining this.' So I went MIA. I went to urgent care back in San Jose because I knew something was wrong the day before the draft. They said the crack down the middle of my sternum was so clean; just a perfect split. "

Mitchel could barely lift the phone to answer the call from the Padres when he got drafted. When the Padres brought him to Arizona for a range of motion tests, he told them his arm was just sore from college.

"I finally came clean and told them it was an off-field injury," he said. "That was pretty upsetting for them. I wasn't fully honest with them, and I think that played a part in me getting released."

Mitchell got released this March, just eight months after getting drafted and just days before facilities were shut down due to COVID-19. He was devastated after training the past year to get ready to play.

"I have a second career that I want to do that has an age limit of 28. So when I'm 25 or 26, if I'm not Triple A, big-league borderline, it's probably time to walk away. But I'll play until then, though."

With thousands of minor league players cut this year, Mitchel wants pursue a dream he's had since he was 12.

"The movie Lone Survivor, I saw that and was like, 'Wow, that's what I want,'" he said. "So since then it's just been all Navy and baseball."

Mitchel comes from a military family and wants to endure the 24-week training course that tests SEALs' mental and physical stamina. It's called BUDS, or known as Basic Underwater Demolition School.

"I like the thought of getting pushed to your absolute limit," he said. "It's not necessarily being the SEAL, but it's going through BUDS. That's what I want."
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