Cedric Mullins was not drafted out of high school. He was not highly recruited to big time college programs. He just always knew that he wanted to play professional baseball so he simply kept doing what he thought he needed to do to reach that goal. As a junior in high school, he wasn’t even a starter on the baseball team, but somehow he knew he could still realize his goals. When he wasn’t able to get a D1 offer, he decided to play for tiny Louisburg College, whose coaches saw him at the World Wood Bat Classic in Jupiter, Florida.
After a successful two seasons at Louisburg, he got the attention of coaches at Campbell University in North Carolina. He was outstanding in his one season at Campbell, leading the team to the championship round of the Big South Conference tournament.
Baseball, like life, is a game of facing down adversity. Everyone takes a different approach to the obstacles that come onto their path. Some feel victimized and let the obstacles overcome them. Others see opportunity on the other side of those obstacles and find a way around, over or through them. Mullins has consistently taken the latter approach.
Mullins kept working and exhibiting a great approach through it all. Along the way, he has drawn positive attention to himself from almost everyone who sees him, not solely because of what he has done but because of how he has done it. Coaches talk about his outstanding attitude and personality and teammates often mention how much he has helped them become better as much as they do his abilities on the field.
After that standout season at Campbell, Mullins was drafted by the Orioles in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. Much of his struggle has been that he’s just 5’9” and there remains a stigma about players who don’t have the standard physical attributes that coaches and scouts like to see.
Since joining the Orioles’ organization, Mullins has continued to do what he has always done. He has worked to find his weaknesses and then has worked to overcome them. All while having a great time and being a great example to those around him. While defense has always been his calling card and he has consistently been seen as having a floor of a defensive-minded 4th OF, Mullins kept working on his offensive skills.
A minor breakthrough for him came in spring training of 2016. The Orioles had lost a few games and Buck Showalter felt they lacked a bit of spark. He asked some of his organization guys to get him a player or two to take on the next bus trip who might be able to do some things to pump up the team. Mullins was one of the first players suggested and Buck pinch hit him for Chris Davis in the 9th inning of a game against the Pirates and Mullins delivered an RBI double. Showalter has been a fan ever since.
This spring, Mullins made regular appearances for the O’s big club and while his numbers were not great, his approach continued to draw rave reviews. Showalter mentioned him specifically in several interviews with the print and TV media following the team. It likely helped that Mullins made huge strides in his first full season of pro ball in 2016. Playing at Low-A Delmarva, he improved on all of his offensive numbers from 2015. He stole 30 bases, slashed .273/.321/.464, mashed 61 XBH and drove in 55 runs out of his leadoff spot. Between that performance and the ability that has gotten the attention of the Orioles’ brass, Mullins was sent to AA Bowie to start the 2017 season, completely skipping a level in the process.
Now on a more age appropriate level (he plays the entire 2017 season at age 22) Mullins has only continued his impressive development. He has started 20 for 44 with 9XBH and 3 SB. He has struck out only 5 times. All of this is on top of his already MLB ready defense in CF.
Mullins does not seem to be surprised by where he finds himself at this point in his career. In interviews, he is quick to point out that he was a 13th round pick as was a guy named Albert Pujols.
In baseball, as in life, a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard can take you quite far. They may very well take Cedric Mullins to a spot in the starting outfield at Camden Yards in the near future.
Article featured image of Cedric Mullins – courtesy Matt Button / Baltimore Sun Media Group