Undrafted out of college, Mitchell kept plugging. He went online, sought out big league tryout camps and impressed the Orioles as a walk-on. Signed in 2001 - Baltimore gave him $300 in gas money to drive to its rookie camp in Sarasota, Fla. - he has been in its ranks ever since, winning 55 of 84 decisions and earning Norfolk's Outstanding Pitcher award in 2008. This year, Mitchell is 9-3.
Last month, he outpitched a former American League Cy Young Award winner, Bartolo Colon, in defeating Charlotte, 4-3. The following day, however, the Orioles acquired a submarine-style pitcher, Cla Meredith, from the San Diego Padres.
What more must Mitchell do?
"Unfortunately, Andy hasn't been in the right place at the right time," said Dave Stockstill, the Orioles' director of player development. "He's an outstanding workaholic pitcher who throws strikes and gets outs. Many times, once guys like him get a break, they stay in the major leagues for a lot of years.
"He just needs to keep doing what he does best."
Teammates marvel at Mitchell's resolute spirit.
"Andy absolutely loves the game," said Jim Miller, another Norfolk pitcher. "He still has that passion; he still has that dream. I get a kick out of watching him interact with his son Nolan, tossing a Nerf ball around the clubhouse with him and running the bases together after games."
Married and the father of two, Mitchell makes $50,000 a year from baseball. Offseason, he works for the family's commercial plumbing business and mulls his major league chances.
"There have been times, when another guy has been called up, when I think in the back of my mind, 'That should have been me,' " he said. "Sometimes I feel like I have to put up some ridiculously low earned run average just to get a shot. But I don't let it affect my attitude.
"When I ask the Orioles [about the future], their answer is, 'Keep doing what you're doing.' They've kept me for a reason, hopefully not just as a dependable arm in Triple-A. Give up? It's tough to quit when you feel you're getting better.
"Eventually, I hope I'll be rewarded for the minor league career that I've had."
The organization man soldiers on, to the delight of Norfolk's management. On this pitching staff, he's a Swiss army knife in a drawerful of pricey Wusthofs.
"Andy's value is that he fills so many roles here," said Mike Griffin, the Tides' pitching coach. "Can he reach the majors? He has a good mentality and the fire is still there, but in baseball you never know.
"That's why we all play this game as long as we can possibly play it. Stay hungry and the chances will be there."