Mullee Feeling More Comfortable

TRENTON, NJ - Coming from Tampa, the Yankees’ high-A team, Conor Mullee is taking the opportunity of playing in Double-A for the first time and so far, coaches have been content with how he has been pitching. Trenton Thunder manager Al Pedrique doesn’t want to pressure him too much and thinks he’s been progressing well.

“The kid is still learning about pitching in different kinds of situations,” Pedrique said. “I think his stuff is getting better. He’s had a couple of outings where he’s proved he can pitch and help us here in Double-A. So far, I think he’s done a good job. He’s another guy that always wants to go out there and pitch and hopefully we’ll get more opportunities to give him the ball and see what he can give us.”

Mullee was both a part-time pitcher and a productive hitter in college, but the Yankees saw more value in him as a pitcher when they drafted him in the 24th round back in 2010.

He sports a fastball that can go up to the mid-90s, but often stays in the low-90s. He has a slider that he has admitted is hit or miss and knows that he needs to keep working on it so that it can be more consistent. Mullee also has a changeup that is described as good, but like the slider, says that he would like to keep working on improving it.

Despite being in the farm system for six years, Mullee has missed two years due to three Tommy John surgeries, so it’s not entirely fair to give up on him and his big league future. He had been pitching well in Tampa before coming to Trenton, having only one game from his 10 Tampa appearances in which he allowed an earned run.

As a pitcher, he’s someone who likes to pitch aggressively towards hitters especially with his fastball. Pedrique says that he is not afraid to pitch.

The 27-year-old is slowly coming to his own as a pitcher and has had a lot of success recently. To start the 2014 season in short-A Staten Island and advancing all the way to Double-A long before the league’s All-Star break is a testament to how well he’s been pitching and adjusting to the increasing levels of competition.

“Every time you go up a level, there’s always an adjustment,” Mullee said. “The more you go out there, the more comfortable you feel each time. I’m definitely starting to feel good about my stuff and feeling confident out there.”

So far, he has pitched 11.1 innings pitched in nine games for Trenton with four of his five earned runs allowed in two of those games. He’s struck out nine batters and holds opponents to a .238 batting average, so for the most part, he’s been doing well, but he hasn’t been an overpowering pitcher.

Mullee hasn’t had much of a chance to pitch this month; he’s pitched in just four games in the month of June and he admits that needs to keep working on his offspeed pitches so that he can be more consistent and do well against the hitters in Double-A.

“Each level I go up to, I noticed that you have to be able to hit your offspeed pitches for strikes consistently down in the count just to keep the hitter off-balanced because they’re so good at this level,” Mullee said.

Thunder Pitching Coach Jose Rosado likes what he has seen so far, but aside from getting more outings, he thinks that Mullee needs to work on everything including more on the nuances of being a full-time pitcher for a team.

“I would say he needs to continue working everything,” Rosado said. “Some days we’re working on his slider, some days we’ll work on his changeup. He just needs to go out there and pitch because he’s a smart kid and he’ll work hard.”

Although he has made significant strides as a pitcher, he is far from over. His role in the bullpen isn’t exactly defined, especially joining the team over a month into the season but that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about Mullee.

Rosado and the rest of the coaching staff acknowledge the good that he has done so far this year and know that they can depend on him whenever they need him.

“When he makes a mistake, I never say that we made a mistake when we’re in the minor leagues,” Rosado said. “Everything is good. I want everyone to know all situations that they’ll have to face. Doing that will only make not just Mullee, but everyone stronger.”

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