SARASOTA, Fla. - In an Orioles spring camp where veterans seem to be making themselves readily available however needed for young players, outfielder Cedric Mullins is ready to soak up help like a sponge.
The Orioles’ 2018 minor league Player of the Year, Mullins made his big league debut late last season, batting .235/.312/.359 in 45 games. He stole two bases in five attempts. That came after his minor league season, when he stole 21 of 22 bases for 95.4 percent at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Mullins, who stole 30 of 36 in 2016 at Single-A Delmarva, has stolen successfully 81 percent (77 of 95) in four seasons on the farm.
So the 24-year-old Mullins could not duplicate that percentage in the majors last season, but it was also a small sample size of just five attempts.
“I think I just picked my spots a little better when I was in the minors,” Mullins told me Friday morning. “And I guess when I got called up, pitchers were aware that I was out there. Catchers have better arms and are more accurate (in the majors). So I have to continue to get better reads, better jumps, and I’ll get my stolen bases.”
Villar started to mentor Mullins last year about learning how to maximize his speed when stealing bases, and that has continued under the Florida sun. Young joined the team this year and is there for tutelage as well.
“He (Villar) has been able to talk me about situations where, really, it’s not even a gamble. It’s more or less just an educated guess. And you start to learn patterns off the pitchers. He’s been a great help.
“He has been helping me along with Eric Young. They talk to me during the games and say, ‘Hey, what are you looking for?’ Putting my attention more toward smaller details, even when I’m not on the basepaths. Just starting to learn and process that over time, and as I get quicker and better at it, it will help me in the long run.”
The unselfish vets mean a lot to young guys such as Mullins.
“It’s huge. They go out of their way to create learning opportunities for us younger guys. You know we soak it all in because we are trying to be the best players we can be out there,” he said.
A few highlights so far: Orioles catcher Chance Sisco continued his Babe Ruth impression yesterday when he homered to left field in the second inning in the first of two split-squad games. Sisco is 5-for-8 with four homers and nine RBIs. In four spring games, he’s batting .625 with an OPS of 2.825.
Richie Martin had two hits in three trips Friday afternoon versus the Rays and is 5-for-10 so far. No one is winning jobs after seven spring games but Martin sure looks like he has a solid chance to not only make this team, but maybe start at shortstop.
Several young pitchers have thrown well, including Josh Rogers with five scoreless, Mike Wright with four scoreless and Jimmy Yacabonis with four scoreless. Yefry Ramirez has allowed one run over four innings. Branden Kline has fanned five in two shutout innings and Hunter Harvey fanned two pitching a scoreless fifth Friday versus the Rays and he touched 96 and 97 mph.
The Orioles are 3-3-1 and play the Red Sox in Fort Myers today at 1:05 p.m. in a game that will air on the Orioles Radio Network. Wright gets the start.
Check out the tweets below to see Sisco at work and O’s manager Brandon Hyde at work when he was mic’d up.
Hot mic! Inside access with Brandon Hyde. 🎤 pic.twitter.com/uZfcOu4XiV-- Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) March 1, 2019