Typically, when the Orioles send out a top prospect from minor league camp, he'll get a start to make one final showcase before the team thanks him for his time with the major league club and lets him go prepare for the minor league season.
It seemed that was the motivation behind giving Cedric Mullins, the Orioles' ninth-rated prospect according to Baseball America, a start against Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets on Sunday.
Mullins, 23, certainly made what could have been a fine parting impression — he laid down a bunt single as part of a two-hit day and stole second base twice while playing his typical standout defense.
That he's remained in camp this long means the Orioles value him and what he can do, possibly as soon as this year. And he values that opportunity as well.
"Every chance I get, I'm going to take the opportunity to showcase my talent on the field," Mullins said. "Being able to get that start against an All-Star pitcher, that's an amazing opportunity just from that standpoint. To have the success that I did kept me relaxed. It's definitely a confidence builder from this point forward, knowing that I can play this game and playing well."
Mullins said it shows that "they have trust in my ability to play this game and play it correctly, and that I've been going about my business professionally.”
"I'm just taking each day one step at a time, not letting it overwhelm me and not making the game speed up on me when I'm out there on the field," Mullins said.
That start against the Mets hopefully jump-started Mullins at the plate. After coming off the bench and playing regularly this spring, the start was his first multihit game of the Grapefruit League. He’s batting .229 with five of his eight hits going for extra bases and a .737 OPS this spring, but his abilities to steal bases and capably play all over the outfield make him an intriguing candidate to arrive in Baltimore sooner than later.
He hasn't let his mind wander that far yet, though.
"There's no telling," Mullins said. "I haven't gotten much info on it yet. I'm guessing no one else has either. I'm taking it all the way through and I'll find out at some point what's going on. Regardless of the situation, I've got to perform."
Until he finds out for sure, he's glad to soak in the major league time afforded to him before camp breaks Sunday.
"Being in the clubhouse around a group of great guys, [I’m] learning a lot from them and their experiences, along with the coaching staff," Mullins said.
Tuesday’s game postponed
The Orioles’ game Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed because of an ominous forecast. Right-hander Hunter Harvey will still start Wednesday against the New York Yankees, with Tuesday’s planned pitchers, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Miguel Castro, scheduled to follow him.
Tuesday’s game will not be made up. Tickets be exchanged for any of the three remaining spring training home games, or refunds can be issued. Season plan members and fans that purchased tickets through StubHub will automatically receive a refund through their original method of payment. Fans that purchased tickets through a third-party ticket vendor should contact those providers.
Those who purchased from the Orioles online or by phone can call (941) 893-6300 or mail the original tickets to: Baltimore Orioles, March 20 Spring Training Rainout, Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th Street. Sarasota, FL 34237.