As Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins gets set for the new season - one where he could be the everyday center fielder - he said the major league experience he gained late last year is very valuable to him now.
“I think it was pretty important,” said Mullins, who made his major league debut Aug. 10. “You get the nerves out. You get to see a lot of the guys that you will be facing in the future already. And get to study them.”
Mullins had a remarkable debut, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs, a walk and three runs scored.
Mullins doubled off Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi for his first hit in his first major league at-bat. He became the first player in Orioles history to record three hits in his debut. He was the second player in club history to record at least two hits, two runs, and two RBIs in his first game in the majors, joining Brent Bowers, who did it in 1996.
Mullins compiled 170 at-bats and 191 plate appearances in 45 games for Baltimore and is no longer rookie-eligible. He hit .235/.312/.359 with an OPS of .671. Mullins hit .317 in August, but just .187 in September.
Now he’ll report to Sarasota with a new manager and coaching staff in place.
“It is exciting. I do appreciate all the previous staff did for me to help me get to the bigs,” he said. “It’s an exciting time to see all the fresh faces we have. It brings a lot of energy and we’re going to run with it.”
Mullins was named the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year, winning the Brooks Robinson Award last September. And when the 2015 pick in round 13 got that call last August, it wasn’t just to play in the majors, but also to take over for Adam Jones in center field. Jones was very supportive of Mullins and Jones was a mentor for Mullins.
“It’s funny, one of the first things he ever told me was to continue to smile. Everyone loves a positive attitude and a team can feed off that energy,” Mullins said.
Mullins added that while the major leagues are obviously challenging for a young player, nothing was thrown at him that he didn’t expect.
“Not necessarily. It just felt like such a surreal moment for me,” he said. “Working all your life to get to this point and continue to push to stay on the field as long as I possibly can.”
Mullins was among the first of a wave of young outfielders looking to make their way to Baltimore. That list includes Austin Hays, who got there in 2017, and DJ Stewart, a 2018 September call-up. It includes Anthony Santander along with three non-roster spring invitees in Yusniel Díaz, Ryan McKenna and Mike Yastrzemski.
“Yeah, and the beauty of it is that we have a lot history together,” Mullins said of the young outfielders. “And when we get on the field, there’s a synergy there. We know each other, and on the field, we communicate well. All of that will come together in the end. We are always pulling for each other. Absolutely. I feel like they are major league-ready. There is just the experience that everyone has to go through to adjust to it.”