Cedric Mullins hopes to overcome his struggles and return to the Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Cedric Mullins hopes to overcome his struggles and return to the Orioles

Cedric Mullins
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

MOOSIC, Pa.—Shortly after Mike Elias took over as Orioles general manager, he sent an email to the team’s season ticketholders. In the letter, Elias mentioned four players he thought the team could build around: Trey Mancini, Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, and a young outfielder who showed promise at the end of the 2018 season, Cedric Mullins.

It has been nearly two months since the Orioles sent Mullins to Norfolk after he began the season with a horrendous .094 average (6-for-64).

The problems for Mullins began in spring training, when he hit just .151 in just 53 at-bats.

Once the season started, things got worse. He was in a 1-for-27 skid when the team decided to send him to the Tides.

Mullins had an impressive start with the Orioles. In his major league debut last August 10, Mullins had three hits, and by the end of the month, he was hitting .317. The Orioles had moved veteran Adam Jones to right field to make way for Mullins, and he was making the decision look good.

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Until September, when Mullins hit just .187. Overall, the switch-hitter did well enough against right-handers, batting .264, but he hit just .156 against left-handers with only one RBI in 45 at-bats.

Mullins’ inability to hit major league pitching continued in the spring.

“It was a struggle,” Mullins said. “That’s putting it lightly. I didn’t feel necessarily overmatched. It was more that I wasn’t able to get my body to do what my mind was seeing at the time.

“With the way I was playing and just in terms of contributing to the team, it wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I wasn’t completely surprised when it [the demotion] did happen, but I’m going to take this opportunity to continue to grow as a player and work my way back up.”

Mullins had two hits, including a two-run home run, in Norfolk’s 9-7 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday night, raising his average to .229. He has five home runs and 20 RBIs.

“The organization made a decision, and Cedric is here to get work and to work on the things that he didn’t really accomplish well at the big league level,” Tides manager Gary Kendall said.

“It wasn’t so much them talking to us about his batting average. It was more about getting him to run as much as he can, getting him to bunt, getting him to play and getting him to utilize his tools within the game.”

Mullins has been aggressive on the bases, stealing 10 in 13 attempts.

“They know he can play the outfield,” Kendall said. “To get down a bunt when he needs to get down a bunt, whether it’s a sacrifice or a base hit bunt and to get men over, to use his speed as an asset, to baserun effectively, to not get doubled off and go first to home on a double if you can, to steal bases and not force [it], but steal bases when the game dictates.”

It’s a long list of things to work on, and while he’s been with Norfolk, Mullins has watched two other outfielders, Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart, get calls to go to the Orioles.

“I’m going through the curve of dealing with failure,” Mullins said. “I’m staying optimistic and continuing to progress every day.”

One thing that has seemingly changed is where Mullins plays. He was thought to be  Jones’ successor in center, but now it appears that the Orioles have Austin Hays as their centerfielder of the near future.

Mullins has shifted around more than he expected to.

“As long as I’m on the field, I’ll play my best whether that would be center, left, wherever they need me out there, I’ll play,” Mullins said.

Mullins has watched Mancini overcome an awful start to his 2018 season and play up to his potential this year. He’s confident he can do the same.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys have their years where it’s just a struggle and you have to grind each day,” Mullins said. “Trey is having the success he had because he’s learned from his past failures. He didn’t have the year that he wanted the previous year, and he turned it around for sure.”

Kendall was with Mullins for his strong half-season at Bowie last year, and he’s with him again now.

“He’s gone through some tough times offensively, but I think he’s coming through a lot of things,” Kendall said. “He’s had some good games lately, and hopefully he’s going in the right direction.”

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Orial

    June 21, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Mullins says he’s continuing to progress while hitting .229. Now THAT’S optimism. It’s like there’s a developmental disease hovering over this organization–no one progresses. I know,I know be patient..

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 21, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Personally, I’m rooting for this kid. He kind of reminds me of Al Bumbry or Richie Coggins …. except for the possiblity that maybe he can’t hit a major league fastball. Small detail I know, but like Orial said above … be patient.

    • ButchBird59

      June 21, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Me too. I was definitely on his bandwagon last year. I’ve disassembled and packed my trombone but, am not ready to jump off yet. Ironically, he’s one of the many Oriole hands whose future is aligned with the pitching woes. If the Birds need to continue to carry a zillion pitchers, it will be to the detriment of defensively talented outfielders like Mullins who at a minimum could be a fourth or fifth outfielder.

    • Tony Paparella

      June 25, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Trouble is there are a lot of no hit good mitt guys out there with athletically ability. Unless you are a Mark Belanger ( position) not gonna make it in today’s world.

  3. garyintheloo

    June 21, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Agree with both of you but I have to admit the players we got in the “fire sale” have not been the cause for any excitement. Someone said all prospects are suspects until they actually do something. Hopefully the second half gives us something to feel good about for 2020. I read that the Braves may consider Gausman for a nontender.

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    June 21, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I hope he can turn it around. He is very athletic and very good defensively. I saw him play at Bowie a couple years ago and he was impressive.

  5. SpinMaster

    June 21, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I agree with all of you guys and hope that Cedric can find his game. It is curious that Kendall said that they want Cedric to use his “tools”. That description seems to apply to several of the current Orioles, namely Richie Martin. I know he can’t be sent down but why oh why does he believe that gripping the bat at the bottom, with one hand over the knob like the proverbial power hitter he is not, will make him a success. His “tools” are his legs and since you can’t steal first base, he needs to learn how to bunt for a hit, bunt for sacrifice and hit the ball to the opposite field. It was great to see Keon bunt for a base hit the other day, that should be the model for Martin to use.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 21, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Please tell me that we haven’t sunk so far as to be on a 1st name basis with Keon Broxton!! That guy should be out the door right after Crush Davis, but something tells me it will be long before …

      • Jbigle1

        June 21, 2019 at 12:54 pm

        There’s just too much swing and miss in Broxton’s game. He’s not going to cut it. Had hoped it might improve but I highly doubt it at this point. Mullins was never a real top prospect. He was one of our better ones in a weak system but fourth outfielder was always the more realistic outcome for Mullins. He may still surprise and be more but it’s certainly not likely.

  6. willmiranda

    June 21, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Nice sympathetic article about Mullins. I don’t buy the Mancini analogy, though. Trey had years of solid hitting behind him to fall back on when he had a slump. Mullins is climbing a hill, not returning to a plateau. And if he didn’t feel “overmatched” against ML pitching, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word. I wish him well, but it looks like the team has him in the same game of defensive musical chairs as most of the O’s. I think his main value is ,or would be, as a superior defensive center fielder. If that’s not working out, it doesn’t look good for him.

    • Jbigle1

      June 21, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      Mancini’s problem was that he hit too many balls on the ground. In 2017 and 2018 he had a 55% ground ball percentage. That’s ridiculously high and hard to have success with that. Particularly when you’re as slow as Mancini is and won’t be beating out any infield singles. He’s corrected that number to 42% this year and it’s played a big reason in his success. I don’t know if he’s made any adjustments to his swing but he’s hitting more line drives and flyballs which is obviously more conducive to success for a guy like him. Trey struggling is the only thing he and Mullins have in common. The solutions are obviously far different.

  7. Raymo

    June 21, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Isn’t his arm somewhat lacking for centerfield? Or am I confusing him with someone else?

    • Ekim

      June 21, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      That’s a point I made last year when he came up. Saw him play at Bowie and was surprised they pushed him to the ML when they did. Another thing I brought up at the same time (when everyone was drooling over his hitting) was that he’d been a streaky hitter and warned that what they were seeing was a “mirage”… and as all now know, it was! He had holes in his swing at Bowie and still does. He’s hit well for the past few games but I’m willing to bet that he reverts to what he’s done in the past. From the few times I’ve seen Diaz I’m concerned he might be another Mullins. Just saying…

    • Camden Brooks

      June 21, 2019 at 5:16 pm

      His arm strength is far down the list of things we need from Mullins. Al Bumbry couldn’t throw a lick.

  8. NormOs

    June 21, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    I wish Mullins luck in his getting back with the O’s. Meanwhile there are many roster spots I hope will be opening sooner than later, Starting, of course, with Chris Davis, Broxton, Martin (so far they are the “below .200 hitters”) also the entire bullpen plus Ynoa and whoever this week’s fifth starter is. I like Alberto for his hustle and his ability to light up leftie pitching and Villier for his speed and, at times, his bat. The entire teams defense is below ordinary. So, IMHO, there are probably 20 (twenty) roster spots open on this team that’s headed for what could be a record number of losses in a year.

    So it’s Mancini, Alberto, Villiers, Cashner, Means, Bundy and the Catcher (not Sisco). So I got 18 roster spots open. Here’s hoping we can get some MLB players for a change.

  9. boss61

    June 21, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t think he comes back, sadly. To me, he’s T-Bone Shelby without the arm.

  10. Bhoffman1

    June 21, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    A modern day CF should have power and a strong arm, neither which Mullins has. He can be a fourth OF at best if he learns to hit. We have enough guys below 200 on this club.

    • Camden Brooks

      June 21, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      To me, I’m looking for speed and on-base percentage from my CF. Currently, hopefully not permanently, Mullins lacks in 50% of these…just my opinion though.

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