[This article was written by Mike Czerepka]
Mullee, now 28 years-old, was picked in the 24th round of the 2010 draft out St. Peter’s college. The former college shortstop turned reliever missed almost three full years due to injuries en route to his 2016 season;, he threw five innings in 2012 but he missed all of 2011 and 2013.
The two previous seasons Mullee had been steadily getting better too, posting a 2.01 ERA in short-season Staten Island in 2014 and a a combined 2.91 ERA over three minor league levels in 2015 that included significant Double-A time, but this year Mullee has been absolutely phenomenal; Mullee has thrown 29 innings has an ERA of 0.62, a WHIP of 0.79, and 35 strikeouts for Triple-A Scranton.
“I’m just trying to be as consistent as I can,” Mullee said about his great start to the season. “Throwing strikes, staying in my lane with my off speed pitches, my slider especially has been more consistent than past years.”
Last year Mullee only threw 3.2 innings in Scranton, not allowing a run, but that small taste of Triple-A baseball helped him coming into this season.
“It was good to get my feet wet last year, it was a good experience for me. It definitely prepared me coming up and being able to compete at this level,” Mullee said.
Mullee’s numbers are video game-like at this point and Scranton pitching coach Tommy Phelps, who has coached at all minor league levels and even served as the rehab pitching coach before, can only rave about him.
“He works fast and pounds the zone,” Phelps said about Mullee’s great start. “He’s got three pitches he throws, he locates the ball well and he’s always attacking the hitters. He’s been successful because he’s getting ahead in the count and being able to throw the put away pitch when he needs it.”
With the success Mullee is having you would think it makes Phelps job easier but he’s always on the lookout. He and Mullee know that even in a breakout season there are still things to work on perfecting.
“With Mullee he gets a little quick to the plate sometimes… his thing is just being able to have a good gather before he delivers, when he’s doing that he’s in good shape,” Phelps said.
Mullee’s success didn’t come easy though as previously noted; coming back from three elbow surgeries is not very common. All of those surgeries and missed seasons did start to effect the mindset of Mullee too.
“In the middle of the third year there was definitely some doubt but I had a strong support system the Yankees, my family and friends. They made it a lot easier to come back,” Mullee said.
The Yankee organization showed a lot of faith in Mullee too while he was battling injury, never giving up on the promise they once saw in him in his debut season nearly six years ago.
“It was huge," Mullee exclaimed. "Missing three seasons, no one could have blamed them if they had given up on me. I guess they saw something and said 'hey we’re going to give him a fourth shot' and it’s worked out pretty well for both sides.”
All of Mullee’s hard work was rewarded too when he made his long awaited Major League debut in Arizona this year.
“It was a huge moment for me regardless if I have been hurt or not; it was a special moment,” Mullee said.
“You’re happy for all the guys,” Phelps said about Mullee’s promotion. “Especially in Mullee's case [where] he had three surgeries and all the years he wasn’t able to compete and develop, I was really happy for him.”
Mullee has made the big club once and he is obviously still very much on their radar, especially with the special season he's still having, but there is still room for improvement.
“Just staying consistent as possible,” Mullee said on what he’s trying to improve on. “Working on stuff mechanically, there’s always stuff to work on. I’ve been trying to stay back better trying to get a little more power from my backside.”
And there is perhaps the biggest reason why Mullee is where he is right now -- he never lets up.