JOHN KOVACH | Colleges Mulinix is invited to Reds' pre-draft tryout

ALLIANCE -- Rick Mulinix of Beloit meets all of the requirements for becoming a professional baseball catcher.
The Mount Union College senior, a graduate of West Branch High, can hit, run, throw and catch -- all four traits that scouts are looking for in a major league backstop.
That is why Mulinix, who recently capped his Purple Raiders' baseball career with six school records, has been invited to a pre-draft tryout with the Cincinnati Reds June 1 at Cinergy Field.
And that also is why he has a good chance of being tapped in the major league draft June 5-7.
Expectations: "A few scouts have contacted my coach [and] I know there have been at least a half-dozen scouts who came to games this year," Mulinix said. But, "I have no idea what it [the pre-draft tryout] is. I know it's not open to the public. You have to be invited to come down."
But it's obvious the Reds believe the versatile Mulinix may have what it takes to play at the top level and want to evaluate him ahead of time to confirm that he meets their draft criteria.
His Mount Union career records tell a well-rounded and optimistic tale: most hits (196), home runs (24), stolen bases (71), games played (151) and putouts (683) while tying for top batting average with .396 (with Chris Tucker 1996-00).
The well-rounded Mulinix also set one single-season record for stolen bases with 28 last year as a junior and broke two single-game records: stolen bases (5, this year) and hits (5, last year).
This year, he led the Purple Raiders in hitting (.391 on 52-for-133), runs (43), home runs (9) and doubles (13) and was No. 2 in RBIs (27), as the team posted a 16-26 record, including 7-11 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
Multi-talented: So, versatility is his biggest asset.
"My speed is pretty important. I run a 6.5 60-yard dash," said Mulinix, noting that the average speed over that distance for major league catchers is 6.9 seconds.
Mulinix also appears to have the ability to throw the ball confidently and accurately against would-be base stealers.
"I'm a pretty aggressive catcher. I try to take advantage with my arm trying to pick players off base. I'm not afraid to throw the ball to any base in any situation," Mulinix said.
And, "My arm strength is pretty important. Not too many [base runners] tried to steal. We had 42 games [this year] and I threw out about 18 of 30."
He said he is able to get rid of the ball quickly after catching it.
"My release time [to second base] is around 1.82 seconds," he said. "The average is around 2.0."
A good bunter: Although a strong hitter, bunting is one of his biggest weapons.
"I bunt a lot," said Mulinix. "I take advantage of my speed a lot. A lot of bunting is overlooked, but it can get you base hits. Being able to bunt the ball is one of the biggest pluses for me."
Mulinix credits most of his bunting skills to Tom Owen, one of his former coaches at West Branch.
"Tom Owen taught me how to bunt. He said that if you try to bunt once a game, you can increase your batting average 100 points," said Mulinix. "I think a lot more players should bunt more. If [opponents] think you may bunt, it will draw the infield in and give you a bigger hole to hit the ball through."
Sandlot team: Mulinix is planning to play again in the Canton Class A sandlot baseball league, which opens the season Memorial Day weekend. He won the league batting championship last year with a .479 average.
Mulinix will play for the Canton Stallions under coach Mark Haident, who also was one of Mulinix's coaches at West Branch.
"My coach [Haident] is supposed to arrange some scouts to come to opening game Saturday [May 26] at Cook Park in Canton," said Mulinix.
So he should learn more about his draft status in the next few weeks.
"I'll know more after the [pre-draft] tryout and I'll know even more after we open the season with the Stallions," said Mulinix, noting that Tim Lake, an assistant coach at Mount Union under coach Paul Hesse, also has been a big help to him.
"Tim is my hitting coach. He does a great job. Tim Lake has been a big help contacting scouts for me, and he plays for the Stallions at shortstop," said Mulinix, who transferred to Mount Union from Youngstown State mid-way through his freshman year.
Eyes teaching: The son of Mary and Rick Mulinix, the younger Rick is majoring in education and has a 2.8 grade-point average but a 3.8 for this spring term. He plans to do his student teaching next year and graduate in May, 2002.
If pro baseball doesn't pan out, he would like to teach and coach baseball.
Three others area players joined Mulinix on the Mount Union team.
Ryan Burke, a sophomore third baseman from Niles High, had the second-leading batting average on the team behind Mulinix with .346 on 36-for-104, with 24 RBIs and 16 runs.
The other were Joe McIntrye, a senior pitcher, and Jeromy Manser, a junior second baseman -- both from West Branch High.

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