Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins Ends A Brutal Stretch
Cedric Mullins wasn’t able to keep his starting job with the Baltimore Orioles and is now experiencing struggles in Triple-A.
This season was supposed to be a big year for center fielder Cedric Mullins. With Adam Jones roaming the outfield in Arizona, Mullins found his name on the Opening Day lineup card back on March 28th against the New York Yankees and planted in center field for the Baltimore Orioles. The 24-year-old switch-hitter was at the top of the lineup for manager Brandon Hyde and expectations were high.
Unfortunately, Mullins lasted just 22 games with the Orioles, hitting .094 with a -10 wRC+ in his brief stint at the major league level. Since he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk in late-April, the numbers have been just as bad.
The struggles for Mullins reached a peak (hopefully this was a peak and not the norm), over the past week. An 8th inning double on July 3rd against the Gwinnett Stripers ended an 0-27 streak for Mullins. It had been 30 total plate appearances since Mullins had recorded a base hit.
Now 63 games into his season with the Norfolk Tides, Mullins is slashing a pedestrian .210/.275/.317 with five home runs, eight doubles, and two triples. His wRC+ of 49 is 64 points lower than what he produced last season in Triple-A with about the same number of at-bats under his belt. He’s currently limping into the International League All-Star break with a .103 average over his last ten games.
It’s been tough to watch Mullins on a nightly basis. His defense is still eye-opening and he shows flashes at the plate when he drives a pitch deep into the right-field wind tunnel at Harbor Park or rips a double past the third baseman. But overwhelmingly, the at-bats for Mullins have ended in weak groundballs and lazy pop-flys to center field. This wasn’t how the 2019 season was supposed to play out for Cedric Mullins.
The center field position is currently a major void on this Orioles’ roster. I know, pretty much every position is, but there are promising corner outfield prospects coming soon, along with the likes of Ryan Mountcastle at first base, Adley Rutschman at catcher, and a plethora of pitching prospects (feels weird but really good to say that as an O’s fan).
Joey Rickard was unable to secure a role after many years of receiving chance after chance, Keon Broxton has been a complete disaster (that’s putting it in a nice way), and Austin Hays continues to find his way to the Injured List. Is Stevie Wilkerson the top center fielder for the Orioles? Yes, someone hitting .212 with no center field experience has turned into the top center field option for the Baltimore Orioles.
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Outfield prospect Ryan McKenna is beginning to heat up a bit in Double-A, but has struggled with the Bowie Baysox this season, hitting .231 with a .309 OBP in 80 games. His elite speed and sneaky pop will fight for major league playing time eventually, but not in the near future. The job was supposed to be safe for Mullins in 2019.
Despite the struggles at the major league level and no immediate threats down on the farm, Mullins has been unable to capitalize on his opportunity. He’s only 24 and by no means has his window closed, but in a season where Mike Elias and his staff are evaluating everyone on the major league roster and those in a position like Mullins, he hasn’t made the greatest first impression.
Mullins and his teammates will get three days off for the All-Star break beginning Monday. I’ll keep watching Mullins every night, hoping his bat can finally break through in the second half of the season.