Mundell Learning On The Fly

PULASKI, VA - Few pitchers are as physically imposing as Garrett Mundell for the Pulaski Yankees. He is listed at 6-foot-6, 245-pounds, and looks every bit of it. When you shake the man’s hand, you really get an idea for just how big of a guy he is. Mundell isn’t just a big guy though; he’s a stud on the mound who is picking things up quickly.

Mundell has appeared in 13 games for Pulaski this season, throwing 19 innings. In those 19 innings, he’s allowed zero runs and just six walks. He’s also racked up 25 strikeouts.

The numbers are even more impressive when you consider its Mundell’s first season in professional baseball. Mundell was drafted in June in the 23rd round by the Yankees.

Pulaski Yankees manager Tony Franklin has used Mundell primarily as a setup man in his bullpen, and says his mental game has allowed him to succeed in the back-end of the bullpen.

“I like the way Garrett competes, I really do,” Franklin said. “By the third time out there, I could tell he wants to compete. The more times you get to see him, the more you get to see his stuff and the quality it has.

“We can get to the closer because of Garrett. We like to think we don’t have designated roles at this level, and that’s a good thing, but you will have a tendency to go to guys in certain situations and Garrett is certainly one that when you get to the seventh with the lead that you can depend on.”

Mundell throws his fastball anywhere from 90-94, and throws a splitter and slider off of his fastball. Mundell said his fastball is the pitch he loves the most.

Franklin said that Mundell’s ability to command the fastball is keeping opposing hitters off-balance.

“You got to learn how to command your fastball and throw it where you want, and mix it up” Franklin said. “Guys that are professional hitters can hit fastballs. You have to be able to throw your secondary pitches and get them to swing and miss at them, and I think that’s the biggest thing he’s been able to do.”

Mundell didn’t even throw his splitter in college. He said his coaches took it away from him, and that pitching coach Justin Pope recommended he bring it back.

“It just didn’t fit the role that I had in my beginning years of school,” Mundell said. “It’s an inaccurate pitch that’s hard to throw and it’s tougher on the elbow. It’s unpredictable but once you can master it, some of the greats can live by it [and] make a career out of it.”

“It’s something he had I guess, but they took it away from him in college,” Pope said. “I was playing catch with him one day, and he was throwing it, and it was really good. We made a suggestion to go ahead and start throwing that in the game.”

While all of Mundell’s secondary pitches are works in progress, Pope said that Mundell’s ability to learn on the fly has benefited him the most in his first year of professional baseball.

“He’s a quick learner,” Pope said. “We’ve been working on his delivery, and he’s been picking it up pretty easy.”

“At Fresno State, that’s kind of what our whole pitching program was based off of,” Mundell said. “It’s every day, doing certain drills, visualizing and putting yourself in different situations when you’re not in the game so when you are in the game, you can go to it.”

Both Pope and Franklin said that they haven’t seen Mundell struggle with the transition from college ball to professional ball. However, Mundell has certainly learned things this season.

“In college ball, your schedule is really structured,” Mundell said. “You wake up, eat breakfast, go to class, you’re in class all day, your main job is class and then play baseball.

"Here, you get ready to play at 7 o’clock and that’s the biggest thing on your mind. There’s no test, no essays, no staying up at two in the morning to finish papers. We focus on just baseball and for me, in school, academics were huge so I put a lot of time and effort into that. It sometimes showed on the field, being tired. Being here, I love it. It’s just baseball.

“The days kind of get repetitive sometimes, but it’s something that’s going to keep you on your game every day. You can’t rely on yesterday’s successes for tomorrow’s future,” Mundell continued. “From day one, they’ve been preaching to us, 'Find your routine.”

Franklin said that even though Mundell has had a lot of success in his first season, he isn’t sure if Mundell’s ceiling is coming out of the bullpen or cracking a big league rotation.

“I think he could do either,” Franklin said. “I think he has enough arm strength to do either, I think he has three decent pitches where he can do either, it’s just kind of hard to say.”

Pope believes Mundell is made for being a stopper in the back-end of the bullpen.

“He’s mentally tough and mentally strong and he never gets rattled,” Pope said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation is, he always stays even-keel.”

Now that Brody Koerner has been called up to Charleston, there is an opening at closer for Pulaski. Pope thinks Mundell, who does have two saves, could easily fill that role. Mundell just wants to help the team, no matter the role.

“Whenever I get the opportunity, I just want to help the team win,” Mundell said. “If it’s coming into tough situations, battling through those situations. If it’s not pitching and just trying to keep the spirits up and the guys going then I’ll do that.”

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