SARASOTA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Orioles camp, it was No. 7 prospect, Cedric Mullins. Mullins was barely recruited out of Brookwood High School in Georgia and headed
SARASOTA, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Orioles camp, it was No. 7 prospect, Cedric Mullins.
Mullins was barely recruited out of Brookwood High School in Georgia and headed to Louisburg College, a two-year school in North Carolina. From there, he went to Campbell for one year, catching the eye of the Orioles, who took him in the 13th round of the 2015 Draft. He's continued to exceed expectations, making a double-jump from the South Atlantic League, where he played in his first full season, to the Double-A Eastern League in 2017.
• Orioles camp report
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
MLB Pipeline: It's March 23. Are you surprised you're still here in big league camp?
Mullins: I'll say I'm humbled to still be here, let's put it that way. I'm just continuing to come out every day and be around this group of guys. It's a huge learning experience on top of it, so it's been fun.
MLB Pipeline: What have been your biggest takeaways for whenever you do go back and get ready for your Minor League season? What things do you know you need so you can keep moving up the ladder?
Mullins: It's all in the details. I see these guys come in every day and they stick to their routine, whether that's getting in the training room early to work on something if they have a tweak, or getting in the cages, just putting in their work. They make sure they stay with it and that's how they stay consistent.
MLB Pipeline: Sometimes prospects come over here trying to win a spot. You knew that wasn't going to happen, but the idea is to make a lasting impression. It seems like you managed to do that.
Mullins: Of course that was the main goal coming in. Coming into Spring Training, I told myself to have the mentality that I'm competing for a job. Regardless of the outcome, I'll make the best of what happens. I'm still here, making lasting impressions, and that's been the goal since the first day.
MLB Pipeline: You got to see a level of pitching here that you haven't seen before. In terms of your approach at the plate, what are some of the things from at-bat to at-bat you've noticed you need to improve on?
Mullins: It's just understanding what they're trying to do to you. After a while, it started to get a little consistent from team to team. I looked at videos and made those adjustments from there. You have to know that just like I shouldn't give at-bats away, they don't give away a pitch. They stick to it and they're not afraid to throw a 3-2 offspeed pitch. They trust their stuff and it's my job to trust my swing.
MLB Pipeline: Going back to your amateur days, it's clear you've had to prove yourself every step of the way. Were there times where you asked, "What do I have to do to get noticed?"
Mullins: Oh, absolutely. From high school forward, it was just one of those things where I had to continue to push. There were days where I thought at any moment, I thought my career could be ended prematurely. I had to stick to my routine and had to have faith that the work I put in will show. Having that mentality every day helped out.
MLB Pipeline: How much do you have to tip your cap to Louisburg College, the junior college that gave you a chance to keep playing? And then Campbell, too? You were able to find places that at least kept giving you the chance to play.
Mullins: I always stay in contact with those schools, even though the staff is always changing and the players are constantly moving through. I keep those relationships because they are the schools that gave me the opportunity to play. That's the main thing. Coming out of high school, I just wanted to keep playing. It didn't necessarily mean I needed a huge offer or a big school. I just wanted the chance to continue my career and continue to get my education.
MLB Pipeline: And was that really the only option for you?
Mullins: At that time, Louisburg was my only option. A little later, I got a little interest from other schools, but at that time, I was already moving in and I told them I was going to stay true to my first pick. It paid off big time. Putting up the numbers I did there and being able to go to a school that was still able to give me the looks I wanted. I trusted the process.
MLB Pipeline: You went in the 13th round. You look around this big league clubhouse and you'll see some players from that part of the Draft, but do you realize in some ways you've already exceeded the odds or expectations? Is that something that fuels you at all?
Mullins: In a way, it never bothered me. After you get drafted, you all start at the same level. That's how I looked at it. The first-round guys get placed in the same spot as the last-round pick. It just depends on what you make of it. Going to Aberdeen, I thought, 'We're all professionals now.' There's no hierarchy in terms of the level we're at, all together in the same place. Just go out there and continue to play hard.
MLB Pipeline: Typically guys taken in later rounds do have to prove themselves at every level. But the Orioles aggressively moved you from Low-A to Double-A in 2017. Were you surprised at all by that?
Mullins: Those surreal moments hit you and it takes a while for it to settle in. Based off the Spring Training I had … I went in competing for a spot in High-A, that's what I was told, but they said, 'Don't cut yourself short. Continue to fight for that next level.' I went out there and had a great Spring Training. Getting sent to Double-A, I thought, 'Wow, this doesn't happen often.' At that point, I had to readjust to make the best out of that opportunity.
MLB Pipeline: Now you're close to officially knocking on the door. People might look at you and see someone who is an overachiever, someone who was overlooked. Does it excite you that maybe you can be a role model for younger players who think they aren't being noticed?
Mullins: Absolutely. Back at home in general, guys know I'm easy to talk to. For them to get advice along the way, it's no big deal for me to talk to them about it. I can let them know it was a grind. I've gone through a lot of failure along the way and a lot of disappointment. But that didn't stop me from pursuing my goals and my dreams of playing in the big leagues.
MLB Pipeline: You clearly take pride in your defense. But you also have some pop. If you had the choice between hitting a game-winning home run or robbing a game-winning home run, which would you choose?
Mullins: I'd definitely rob it. I'd definitely rob the home run. You're on defense, you're in a situation where the game is over and you're the person who stopped someone else from having that success. That's a huge feeling. You have the success yourself while hitting, but to rob a home run? Everyone hits home runs, but to rob one? That doesn't happen too often. That's why I would pick it.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.