I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2010 has to offer each Sunday and Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Just to start things off – are you still 6’3”, 175 lbs?
Casey Mulholland: I am. Well, 6’3”, 170 to be exact, but 175 is what I like to say [laughs].
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you play any other sports besides baseball?
Casey Mulholland: I used to play golf, and I played basketball, but baseball has always been my love and passion. I was actually pretty good at golf, and the golf coach said I would have to decide between golf and baseball because the swings don’t mix, so I said I appreciated all his time, but baseball was definitely my first love.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you shoot?
Casey Mulholland: I can be a mid to low 80s guy if I go out and practice a lot, but I don’t get out there often so I’m usually around the mid to low 90s which isn’t very good [laughs]. I just enjoy playing as a way to get away now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You go to Pendleton, the same high school that the Yankees 2009 2nd round pick, JR Murphy attended. What can you tell me about playing with JR?
Casey Mulholland: JR was an amazing catcher with an amazing knowledge of the game, and he helped me out a lot last year. He conducts himself in a really professional manner, and I just enjoyed being his teammate. Numerous time last year when we were in big games and big situations it was great to have that guy behind the plate that you could have a lot of confidence in. He was just an all-around great teammate to me, I mean he taught me so many things, he knew the right thing to say at the right time, he was always that guy that you could look upon when you needed something big – he came through in the clutch for us so many times last year.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The Pendleton School is a slightly different experience than most people associate with high school. Can you give us an idea of the differences you see in going to a school that focuses on athletics?
Casey Mulholland: Sure, I’ve been going there since 8th grade now, this is my fifth year as a fulltime student which means going to school and playing baseball, and I’ve been at IMG and Pendleton for about eight years total going to camps and stuff. The biggest difference I see between IMG Academies and a regular school is that IMG is not your normal high school – it’s more of a college atmosphere. Your class schedule, your baseball schedule, the way you conduct yourself, it teaches you to regiment yourself day in and day out. You work on an A day, B day schedule like colleges, waking up early one day, going to class later the next day. The coaches are on you, they look into your academics, they check if your in class on time, what your grades are like, which is somewhat like other schools do, but the level of training and the hours that you put in daily are just second to none. You can’t really get that experience, at least from what I’ve seen, anywhere else. For me IMG has just been a huge step for me, to take myself to the next level. My pitching coach Steve Frey and my head coach Kevin Sharp have just taught me so much about the game over the past couple of years. I’ve come a long way from when I first started.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was it that you knew that you were pretty good at baseball?
Casey Mulholland: Me and my dad always talked about having goals in life – each step of the way from little league, until high school, until now, I’ve had goals. When I was a young kid in middle school, I remember my dad sat me down one day after we had practiced together and said, “your next goal should be to make the junior varsity team,” and that was my goal. I worked my butt off, tried to do what it took to get there, and ended up making junior varsity as an 8th grader. After that, in 9th grade, my next goal was to play varsity, and I wound up making that, too. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever known that I was good, I just knew that I could play with whomever was on the field at any given point in time. I felt that with all the hard work and effort I could put in that it would come to me over time, and I expected it to. It wasn’t like one day it just hit me that I was pretty good, I’ve just seen the results of a lot of hard work and dedication.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90 MPH?
Casey Mulholland: My first freshman appearance against Tampa Catholic. I got called up to the varsity, I was nervous, on the edge, didn’t know what to do, got on the mound and touched 90 MPH for the first time. At the time I didn’t really know what it meant, I just knew that I was throwing hard, but looking back on it now it was a pretty big accomplishment.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What made you decide on Ole Miss?
Casey Mulholland: We visited a lot of schools, I’m not sure how many in all, but we spent many a weekend out on visits in order to be able to make an educated decision. I showed up to Ole Miss and just fell in love with the place. The story I like to tell is that I showed up on a Saturday for the Georgia series last year when Georgia was ranked number one, and everyone at the stadium was electrified, ready to go, and excited to watch the game. In the midst of all this I sat down and people were coming up to me and asking me who I was, and you could tell they all had a great camaraderie and knew each other well. When I came back on Sunday those same people that had seen me came back and said “hey, Casey! How are you? Did you call your mom last night?” and so on, so it showed me that they really do care, and the fanbase is second to none. At that point I fell in love and I knew that was the place.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft?
Casey Mulholland: You know, I entertain it when I’m away from the field, but when I’m on the field baseball is my outlet to life. When I’m on the field I don’t think about what’s happening off it, I just worry about the present moment. We’ve had scouts come over and talk to people, and it’s been a great experience so far, they’ve all been extremely nice. I’ve entertained the idea and thought about the draft, but in all honesty I still have to go out this spring and pitch well, and I feel the draft will be dictated by how I play. I’m not going to put pressure on myself, I’m just going to go out there, do what I’ve done in the past, and we’ll see what happens come the summer. I’ve got a great opportunity in Ole Miss, and a great opportunity in the draft, but as of now it is what it is and I’ve just got to go out there and play well for my team and enjoy my last high school season.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is the image you get when you dream about playing baseball for a living?
Casey Mulholland: I just see myself hopefully on the big stage one day, doing what I love for a living. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always dreamed of game 7 of the World Series and having yourself in that situation. I want to be a Major League baseball player competing in the middle of the stadium competing against the best, of the best, of the best. Experiencing that would be a great experience for me – I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself – my dreams have come true! Everybody, since they’re six years old, has had that dream of being a Major League baseball player, and if it happens to me I’d be extremely grateful and thankful.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from?
Casey Mulholland: I have no idea to be honest, a whole bunch of them, but I don’t know the exact number.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Any contact from the Yankees?
Casey Mulholland: Yes, I talked to someone from the Yankees last night, actually.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was the Under Armour game like for you?
Casey Mulholland: It was unbelievable! I got to play at Wrigley Field and I still get goosebumps thinking about it now. I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. Under Armour and Baseball Factory did a great job with it, and we got to play on national television! [laughs] It was unbelievable.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Give me a detailed description of your arsenal.
Casey Mulholland: I throw a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a changeup, and a curveball. I have a slider that I’ve thrown a little bit and it's neither here nor there, but I’m still working on it. My two-seamer is a work in progress, I’ve been working on it this past fall and implementing it into my arsenal this spring. I’m really looking forward to using that pitch because it’s going to set my changeup up well, and I’m hoping it can be my outpitch more times than not. My changeup dives into a righty and away from a lefty, and I use it as my outpitch against the lefties most of the time. I’m pretty much a four-seam fastball guy, and it can range anywhere from 88-92 MPH on a good night. My curveball is good, probably a 1-to-7 break and a hard curve, and I enjoy throwing it for first-pitch strikes. I used to throw a looping curve that was more of a 12-to-6, but that wasn’t working so well so I switched to the harder curveball, around 80 MPH, and that is working a little better for me. My pitching coach teaches me to throw to contact, and that’s a new thing for me because growing up I always had a decent arm so I was able to blow fastballs by people. So right now my biggest goal is to continue to learn how to pitch, to continue to better myself on the mound, setting myself up well – go fastball outside to get ahead, then burying a changeup in on his hands. Overall though I would say the four-seam fastball is my best pitch, curveball second, changeup as my outpitch, and then my two-seam because it’s still a work in progress.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your personality on the mound?
Casey Mulholland: I try to keep the game simple on the mound because I can sometimes complicate things. I try to stay as calm, cool, and collected as possible. I’m not sure what I look like from the outside in, but on the inside the mental conditioning courses I’ve taken at our school are a big asset for me. I know how to calm myself down, and my goal is to get the game into my hands, to have the game on my time, so standing out there, I’m going to take my time to make sure that I make the pitches I need to make and keep my focus. I would say I like to play the intimidation factor a little bit because I have a decent fastball, but once again I’m 6’3”, 170 lbs, so I’ve got some time for the intimidation thing to come around for me [laughs].
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Most scouting services list you solely as a pitcher, but you play outfield, too. Which is your preference?
Casey Mulholland: I know pitching will be my future somewhere down the road. Going off to Ole Miss I’ll be both, and what I’ve told everybody is that I’ll play the outfield as long as I can because I love the game of baseball in general. Anytime I can get out on the field and play, I will. When I can’t contribute with the bat I’ll hang it up, but until then I’m going to keep swinging the bat and working hard at the game I love.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What team were you a fan of growing up?
Casey Mulholland: I actually grew up a Rays fan – my family had season tickets from day one with the Rays, and we actually dropped them the year before they went to the World Series. That was a bummer to me, but I thoroughly enjoy watching the Rays and still go to a lot of their games.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow, in the hundreds of prospect interviews I’ve done, you’re the first Rays fan I’ve ever encountered!
Casey Mulholland: [laughs] A lot of people called me a bandwagon fan the year they went to the World Series, but I told all them to go check out the picture that’s up in the Trop of the inaugural first pitch – you can see my grandpa sitting right behind homeplate taking a picture of it, my dad standing up, and my uncle right next to him, so I’m definitely a die-hard Rays fan. I don’t think there are many of us out there, but I definitely am one!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the players that you look up to in terms of their skills or the way they play?
Casey Mulholland: I look back a little bit – I love watching the MLB Network and have a couple of old games videoed from when I was younger that I like to watch over and over. One of my favorite players of all time is Bernie Williams, just the way he handles himself off and on the field, quiet guy, played in New York for so many years with major success, but you never really heard him say too much. He just did his job day in and day out, wasn’t big-headed in the media, just kept his mouth shut and did his job. Pitching-wise it would be Nolan Ryan, the way he powers guys and dominates hitters. I think that’s something that any pitcher can watch and say “wow, that’s definitely an asset to have.”
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal any pitch from any other pitcher in your draft class, whose would it be and why?
Casey Mulholland: That’s a tough question! I would say Jameson Taillon’s fastball because I’ve seen that kid strikeout so many hitters over, and over, and over, and over. He’s got such a great arm, and playing and talking with him at the Under Armour game, in Minnesota, and North Carolina, he’s a really a super-nice kid and I know things will go well for him in the draft this year.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you ever been given a comparison by a scout?
Casey Mulholland: I’ve had some people say different things, but I don’t remember exactly who. There are not a whole lot of 6’3”, 170 lb guys in the state of Florida, I know there are a lot of bigger kids, but I’m still a little long and lanky, a little goofy sometimes, but over time I’ll mold into something a little bit more fine-tuned, and then I think I’ll start drawing a few more comparisons.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What do you like to do off the field?
Casey Mulholland: I like to fish a lot. Being in Florida everybody thinks saltwater, but I’m a freshwater guy. I love to bass fish on the weekends, I like to play golf, too, I just like to get away and relax a little bit. I take so much time and consume myself with the game that every chance I have to get away and enjoy myself with friends and family is valuable. I try to make sure that I don’t take the game too seriously because it is a game, and it always will be.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, what’s this whole process like for you? How do you deal with it?
Casey Mulholland: You know, I’m extremely grateful that God gave me the ability to throw a baseball the way I do, and to play the game the way I do. My dad sat me down when I was young, like I said earlier, and in one of those talks we had after practicing he told me there was a list of things I needed to keep straight in my life. At the time I didn’t understand the list, but as time went on things changed, I grew and matured a little bit, and came to understand it. He told me the list was to put God first, family second, friends third, school fourth, and baseball fifth. I realize now why he put baseball at the end of the list, because when I was young I thought, “what? Baseball at the end of the list? Are you crazy?” It was my life, and it still is, but I understand that there are a lot more important things in life. Being 18 years old and having to deal with scouts, talking to schools, doing schoolwork, being at IMG and still trying to live a normal life, and not consuming myself with workouts, protein shakes, and all this other stuff…I’ve just tried to keep it simple. Those five points are what I base my life around. People that you talk to about me will tell you that I’m a pretty easy going person, I don’t like to go too far out there and be something I’m not, I’ll be straight forward with everybody, and I live my life by codes, most of which are either found in the bible or have been engrained in me by my family. So keeping it simple and keeping it real is part of who I am, and that’s how I’ve learned to cope with things like this process.