Outfielder Cedric Mullins, who’s emerged as an elite position prospect in the organization, continues to perform light baseball activities in Sarasota as he recovers from a left hamstring injury.
Mullins strained the hamstring on April 20 and the initial projection had him missing two weeks. He’s batting .367/.406/.683 with five doubles, a triple, four home runs, 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 14 games.
It wasn’t the fast track that caused the injury, but he’s certainly on it.
The Orioles moved up Mullins from low Single-A Delmarva to Bowie, bypassing the Carolina League, after he hit .273/.321/.464 with 37 doubles, 10 triples, 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 124 games for the Shorebirds. He wasn’t drafted out of high school. No reason to slow-play the college kid who just tore up the South Atlantic League.
“I liked it,” said Bowie manager Gary Kendall. “Not because I was getting him. I would have liked it if I was the guy that got leapfrogged. Just because I like challenges. Certain guys can handle it and certain guys can’t. But I think the recommendations from people we got it from had more experience at that than I do, so they gave their reasons why they thought he could jump a level and handle it and so far they’ve been right on.
“I think he’s a guy who still can impact your lineup when he’s 0-for-4. He brings so much to the table in the outfield and on the bases, doing those things, and moving runners, even when he doesn’t get a hit. He’s met the challenges so far.”
Mullins is just confirming what the Orioles already suspected. The signs were there.
“I saw him in instructional league the past couple of years and what impressed me, even going back then, was he knows what type of player he is,” Kendall said. “I know he’s hit some home runs, but his type of approach, he’s more of a line drive gap-to-gap guy that hits the fastball. And I’ve been very impressed with him right-handed because, the little I saw of him right-handed in instructional league, I didn’t see an equal side, but based on what I’ve seen so far he’s hit the fastball, he’s hit the breaking ball from the right side, he can bunt from the right side. He brings a lot from both sides of the plate.
“He’ll beat you in a lot of ways - an extra-base hit, a walk and steal a base. He seems to always get in scoring position. Instincts on the field have been really good. His breaks in center have been good. He’s been a pro. He’s a guy who just shows up every day and expects his name in the lineup and just goes about himself the right way.
“There hasn’t been any glaring weakness. I know the season’s young. We’ll run into some guys that will give him a challenge, but he’s really helped us. Especially because he profiles really as a leadoff guy and every club likes to have that type of guy. We haven’t had so many of those here.”
Mullins will resume that role with the Baysox after he’s deemed healthy and not at risk of reinjuring the hamstring.
Kevin Gausman is 2-3 with a 6.63 ERA and 1.737 WHIP in his eight starts in 38 innings, but he’s coming off an encouraging effort against the Nationals. Two runs, one walk and eight strikeouts over a season-high seven innings. Perhaps it’s the start of the type of roll that carried him through the second half last summer.
Gausman has appeared in 103 major league games in the regular season and he’s never faced the Royals. He totaled 4 1/3 scoreless relief innings in two games against them in the 2014 American League Championship Series.
The current group is 1-for-15 against him, with Brandon Moss owning the only hit in five at-bats. He’s struck out three times.