Q&A with Rangers 24th-rd pick Chase Mullins

Left-handed pitcher Chase Mullins garnered attention from scouts while at Bourbon High School in Kentucky not only because of his 6-foot-8 frame, but also because he features a low-90s fastball. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the Texas Rangers' 24th-round pick on Thursday.

Under Major League Baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are no longer able to spend freely––for the most part––on late-round selections.

For example, left-handed pitcher (and St. John's basketball player) Amir Garrett earned a $1 million bonus from the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd round of last year's MLB Draft. The Kansas City Royals spent $575,000-plus to sign three picks between the 16th and 30th rounds. With the new restrictions, those signings will become much less frequent.

In years past, late-round high school picks would often be willing to listen to major league clubs in hopes that they'd be offered well-above slot money. But with teams more hamstrung under the current system, more and more high school players are announcing their intentions right as they are picked.

That was the case with 6-foot-8 left-handed pitcher Chase Mullins, who was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 24th round of Wednesday's MLB Draft.

The Kentucky native is a highly projectable arm who currently features an upper-80s, low-90s fastball that has touched up to the mid-90s. He also works with a curveball and the occasional changeup.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with the University of Kentucky signee, who says he'll pass on professional baseball for now in hopes of becoming a top-round pick in a few years.

Jason Cole: What was it like being drafted by the Texas Rangers?

Chase Mullins: First and foremost, it was a complete honor to get drafted by a team as prestigious and good as the Rangers. I've always respected them and they definitely have the best pitching roster for a reason. They have a great development program.

I was actually at UK getting my classes registered. And one of my really close friends, Zach Arnold––he signed, and he's going to be a catcher at UK. He told me, ‘Hey, you just got picked. The Rangers picked you up in the 24th.' I was just like, ‘Well, sweet. Awesome.'

Cole: Who was your area scout in Kentucky?

Mullins: Derek Lee. He did a fantastic job, by the way.

Cole: How much contact have you had with him overall? What's your relationship like with him?

Mullins: Me and Derek are great. Derek is an awesome guy. He's very passionate about what he does. I mean, he gets close with me and the family, and that really meant a lot to me.

Cole: Leading up to the draft, I'm sure you had been talking to quite a few scouts. Because of the Rangers' overall status as a franchise and your relationship with Derek, were you kind of rooting for the Rangers to pick you?

Mullins: Yeah, definitely. The Rangers have an amazing development program. It would've been an honor to be able to put on the big ‘T.'

Cole: When you were drafted, MLB listed you at 6-foot-6, but you've been listed as taller elsewhere. What's your height and weight at right now?

Mullins: My height and weight right now is 6-foot-8, and I haven't been weighed very recently, but I should be around 265.

Cole: Has baseball always been your first sport?

Mullins: Yes. I mean, I played basketball for one year just to try it out, and I really didn't like it. Baseball has always been my primary sport.

Cole: As a 6-foot-8 guy, you probably get the, ‘Do you play basketball?' question quite a bit.

Mullins: (laughs) Yeah. I'm pretty close with some of the basketball guys at UK––Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley, and Alex Poythress. I've got a few classes with them, I always walk around with them, and we're always talking. And I always get the question, ‘Do you guys play basketball?' I always have to say, ‘I don't, but they do.'

Cole: As you look back on your senior year in high school, what were your thoughts on your performance? How do you feel it changed your status as a prospect?

Mullins: I really thought that I battled my way through tough situations. And I think that I got into situations that I shouldn't have been that kind of led up to questions there. And I get it. There are a lot of things that I've got to work on. Every time I step on the mound, I should be getting better every day. So there's always going to be room to grow for me.

Cole: Tell me about your game on the mound. What kind of pitcher do you view yourself as?

Mullins: I'm a pitcher that likes to––what's a very non-explicit way to say this? (laughs) I'm just a guy that's mean. I'm very mean on the baseball field. I'm not nice.

Cole: What do you have in your repertoire?

Mullins: The fastball is my primary pitch, and it has been up to 95 mph. Then I've got a curveball that isn't too bad. But I'm still working on the changeup.

Cole: Talk about throwing a changeup in high school. When your fastball can touch the 90s in high school, the changeup often just speeds up the hitters' bats and loses its purpose.

Mullins: Exactly.

Cole: So how much of an opportunity have you gotten to throw that?

Mullins: Not very much. Every time I've thrown it this year, I've given up a hit. They were jumping on it, thinking it was a fastball. And it kind of gets their confidence up, because they think they just hit my fastball.

Cole: Is that something you throw more on the showcase circuit than anything?

Mullins: Yeah, a lot more.

Cole: The University of Kentucky is obviously in your backyard. But what else led you to pick the school?

Mullins: My grandmother introduced the love of true blue into my life at a very, very young age. I've always grown up and been raised true blue. I set goals for myself. One of my goals was to be an all-american, to make the all-star team, play in the East-West All-Star Game, get drafted, and play baseball for the University of Kentucky.

Cole: The UK baseball program is coming off a strong season in which they were ranked in the top 10 for much of the year. Tell me about the excitement of going into a program on the upswing.

Mullins: This past season––I don't think it really influenced a lot. And I don't think the years before that really influenced it a lot. I think it was just the fact that I knew what UK was capable of. And they knew what UK was capable of. It's just the fact that everybody else has got to know what UK is capable of. And they're going to find out in a few years when we get about two or three SEC rings.

Cole: As you mentioned, you've been a Kentucky fan your entire life. Have you been a guy who goes to Rupp Arena and the football games quite a bit over the years?

Mullins: Yes. I love watching football and basketball. I'm still a fan. I may be a player right now, but I'll always still be a fan.

Cole: How much are you looking forward to being able to get into those games easily now as a student and an athlete?

Mullins: I'm excited. I've always wanted to be a part of the eRUPPtion Zone.

Cole: I'm sure a big factor in you lasting until the 24th round was signability. Is it safe to say that you're pretty set on going to school?

Mullins: I am. I'm going to UK.

Cole: Being 6-foot-8 and possessing a potential plus fastball, you're the type of guy who has the raw potential to be an Alex Meyer-type prospect after a few years. What are some parts of your game that you want to develop at UK?

Mullins: I want to get my mental game right. I want to not get into my own head. I want to be consistent with my mechanics. I don't want to rush myself. I want to slow everything down. And I want to get ahead of batters early. Gary Henderson is the pitching guru, and he's going to be a huge help with that. So I'm excited to go and get instruction from him.

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