Scouting Twin Prospect #34: Ryan Mullins

Here is a look at the 34th ranked Twins prospect on our list, left-handed pitcher Ryan Mullins. Taken in the third round of the 2005 draft, Mullins went 3-0 for Elizabethton in 2005, and helped the team win the Appalachian League title.

When the Twins selected Ryan Mullins in the third round of the 2005 June Draft, some experts thought of it as a bad idea. He had a turbulent final season at Vanderbilt, that included a six-game suspension for a DWI arrest, and questions about his mental makeup. However, you cannot overlook talent, and this tall lefty is full of just that.

A former Vanderbilt Commodore, Mullins burst onto the national scene during his sophomore season at VU, when he 9-3 with a team-leading ERA of 2.58. That season, he out pitched teammate Jeremy Sowers, whom the Cleveland Indians selected sixth overall in the 2004 draft. With lofty expectations going into his Junior season, Mullins had an up-and-down encore to his breakout sophomore year.

He ended his Junior season with a 6-1 record in 13 games, pretty good numbers for any collegiate pitcher. However, he was suspended from the program for three weeks due to a DWI arrest, and saw his ERA rise to 3.62. Towards the end of the season, he was quoted as saying he would return to VU if he was not selected in the first three rounds of the draft. Luckily for Twins fans, the organization scooped him up right before his own personal deadline.

Some believe his statistics during his first two seasons of college ball was due to the fact he was pitching behind Sowers in the rotation, while others believe he could not take the pressures of being the staff ace during his Junior year. By the time the SEC tournament rolled around, he had been replaced by Jensen Lewis as the team's ace. Still, the Twins saw enough in Mullins to take him earlier than most expected.

He signed with the Twins on June 13, and was assigned to Elizabethton of the Appalachian League. One thing is for sure, he proved every single naysayer wrong during his inaguaral year of professional baseball. The lefty finished the season with a 3-0 record, posted a 2.18 ERA in 11 starts, and struck out 60 batters in 53.2 innings of work.

If his first year is any indication of what he can bring to the organization, the Twins may have found another left-handed gem. Now, most scouts believe his past is behind him, and what happened while at VU was an isolated incident.

Repertoire.Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball.Most scouts believe that Mullins has good stikeout potential, and he can get his fastball up around 92 miles per hour at times. His heater usually sits in the 87-91 range, and he has the ability to spot it wherever he wants. He uses his height to intimidate batters, and some hitters have said the ball looks like it is coming in faster because of how tall Mullins is.

Other Pitches. Mullins throws a serious breaking ball, and has the ability to throw it two different ways. His curve has a nice 12-6 drop on it, and he can spot it wherever he wants. He also throws a shorter, quicker version of it, which gives the hitters fits. His changeup, while still raw, has a fading action to it. Both pitches make his fastball seem to be in the 94-95 range when he is on.

Pitching. Mullins is a good overall pitcher, who relys on all his pitches to get people out. He has tremendous strikeout potential, as he showed with his 60 strikeouts in 53.2 innings last season. He is a workhorse, who hates to be taken out of the game. He is also comfortable facing both lefties and righties, as he held both to a batting average under .190 this past season. Some say he reminds them of a young Chuck Finley, although he is much skinnier.

Projection. Mullins is a starter, and should always be kept in the starting rotation. He is a tall kid, who loves to take the mound to start off the game. A fierce competitor, Mullins has overcome some speed bumps to put himself in a great situation to succeed. He is a part of the best Minor League system for pitchers, and should continue to develop into a legitimate starting pitcher prospect.

ETA. 2008. Mullins should make a steady climb through the organization this season. Some say he is the best left-handed pitching prospect, after Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins. However, the Twins are stocked with arms, and he is going to need to have a season like he did last year to continue to turn heads. Some believe that college kids struggle during their second year in pro ball, but Mullins should avoid that. He should end the year with Fort Myers, and make his Double-A debut in 2007.

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