Mulvey has all the tools to succeed
Tall, hard-throwing righty prospect drawing praise from Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Kevin Mulvey is a rarity for a 21-year-old pitcher. The right-hander, who was the Mets' first pick -- in the second round -- of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, can consistently throw four different pitches for strikes.
"I've pretty much never had a problem with that," Mulvey said matter-of-factly at the Mets' camp, where he is getting a chance to mingle with the club's best players, despite a total of just four games of starting experience in the Minor Leagues.
Mulvey, who is from Parlin, N.J., and played at Villanova, throws a fastball, curve, changeup and slider. He's hit 96 mph on the radar gun and can throw between 92 and 94 on a regular basis, said Rick Waits, the Mets' Minor League pitching coordinator.
"Usually a young pitcher might have command of one or two of his pitches," Waits said. "But Kevin has four solid pitches he can throw for strikes. It's a rare pitcher you can say that about."
Waits has even noticed that Mulvey, along with Joe Smith, another young arm, has not been awed by his presence in a Major League camp. His locker is around the corner from that of future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.
"They're not intimidated by being here," Waits said. "They're honored by it all, but not intimidated. They throw bullpen sessions like they've been there for years."
Because of negotiations on his first pro contract, Mulvey didn't launch his pro career until August. He pitched two shutout innings for the rookie Gulf Coast Mets, then joined Double-A Binghamton, where he started three games. He fashioned a 1.35 earned run average over 13 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and striking out 10.
For the 15 1/3 innings he pitched, he walked five.
"He's got a powerful arm and a good delivery," Waits said. "He showed us he's not afraid of contact. He goes right after hitters. You can tell he's a confident kid."
Mulvey, who is scheduled to pitch in Tuesday's intrasquad game, is likely to return to Double-A this year, though the Mets will be watching him closely this spring.
He was all ears in the offseason at a minicamp where Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson spoke about mastering some pitching basics that could get him to the highest level.
"He said the 1-1 pitch is the most important pitch in baseball," Mulvey said. "He said to be sure you can control your fastball, because all of your other pitches, particularly your offspeed pitches, will work better if you do. It was very interesting."
Mulvey endured a 3-8 season at Villanova as a junior last year, with the Wildcats scoring a total of two runs in five of his losses. This is despite the fact that he finished fifth in the Big East conference in earned run average, sixth in innings and strikeouts and eighth in opponents' batting average against.
His innings total (92 1/3_ were just three off the single-season school record.
"I had a great time at Villanova," Mulvey said, "and the coaches were great. I have no regrets at all about going there."
The average fan might believe that Mulvey's draft position would be negatively impacted by the season he had, regardless of the circumstances. But Major League scouts historically ignore statistics when evaluating a player, looking more at talent and potential, and they did in his case.
"I talked to about all the teams and they all said the same thing: that they'd take me with their first or second pick," Mulvey said. "So I wasn't really surprised to be taken pretty high."
He was pleasantly surprised to be drafted by the Mets, however, as he considers them "the hometown team."
Of course, he was no secret to anybody in the scouting game by the time he reached college. He was named a high school All-America by Collegiate Baseball in 2003, after he posted a 0.88 ERA and struck out 100 as a senior at Bishop George Ahr High School. He had a school record 250 strikeouts during his career.
As it's turning out, Mulvey is one of a number of promising young pitchers keeping Waits busy these days. The coach is particularly excited about a group of Dominicans who have been produced through the Mets' academies in that country.
In fact, Waits had a photograph taken recently of him with about a dozen Dominicans, all strong-armed teenagers. He fully expects a number of them to wind up in the Major Leagues.
"Of all the  years I've been here, collectively, we have the strongest arms of any time I've ever seen," Waits said. "We've got a bunch of kids throwing in the 90s with just outstanding potential."
Plus, Waits is expecting a nasty-throwing 6-foot-7 arrival to join them soon.
That just means one thing to Mulvey: He needs to stay on an accelerated path to the Majors, to stay ahead of all those younger arms who figure to be presenting their own arguments for a spot in the Majors one day.
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.