Position: Starting Pitcher
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 By the time the SEC tournament rolled around, he had been replaced by Jensen Lewis as the team's ace.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 inaugural 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.
In 2006, Mullins once again was an everyday starter for his team, but it would be for the Beloit Snappers. The left-hander was a cog in the rotation all season long, making 26 starts, which included a complete game shutout. During the season, Mullins would garner Midwest League Player of the Week honors, and would go on to set a career-high in strikeouts (139).
During the 2007 season, Mullins began to get national notoriety, as another successful season landed him in the Arizona Fall League. In the regular season, Mullins spent time at three levels, making his way all the way to Rochester for four starts. In the fall, Mullins would be named a Rising Star in the AFL, and established himself as one of the better arms in the organization.
Last season, Mullins would be a member of the New Britain Rock Cats the entire year, being relied upon as one of the better starters on the team. He appeared in 30 games, making 24 starts, and struck out nearly 100 batters. He was hit hard though, finishing fifth in the Eastern League in hits allowed, and his 87 runs allowed were fourth.
He was also a mid-season Eastern League All-Star.
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 is a workhorse, who hates to be taken out of the game. He is also comfortable facing both lefties and righties, and has a good strikeouts/innings pitched ratio throughout his career. 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. 2009. Mullins has made a steady climb through the Twins organization, but some feel he may have peaked in 2007. I, for one, do not believe that to be the truth, and love his potential as a Major League starter one day. He is slated to be in the rotation at Rochester in 2009, and should make his debut at some point during the season. Whether it be in the bullpen, or in the rotation, I expect Mullins to make his Major League debut in 2009.