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February 25, 2010

Ole Miss signee not stressed about draft

Casey Mulholland knows he'll have a decision to make.

His life and baseball future will turn one way or the other, and he won't be able to look back. And he's fine with that. He's also fine with taking it one day at a time until that decision is necessary.

Mulholland, a two-way player from the Pendleton School at IMG Academy, is one of the top pitching prospects in the state of Florida - as well as nationally -- and has signed to play college baseball at Ole Miss. However, the 2010 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft could throw a kink in that plan.

The 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher - that also projects as an elite college hitter - has the attention of scouts due to his ability to precisely locate four pitches and run his fastball up around 90 MPH. His measurables and recent years at one of the top baseball schools in the county will make June (when the draft occurs) a marquee month for Mulholland and his family.

But the time between now and then will dictate just how difficult a decision Mulholland will have to consider.

"I've talked to some scouts, and they all tell me it'll depend on how I play this season," Mulholland said. "I'm just going to enjoy things and let them fall in place."

If the first couple weeks are any indication, Mulholland will be pleased with his place in a few months. He's hitting above .500 at the plate two home runs and two doubles, and darkness is the only thing that has slowed him down on the mound.

Wednesday night pitching against St. Petersburg Catholic (Fla.), Mulholland was cruising in the second inning with two outs and two strikes on a hitter, but just as he let go a pitch, the lights literally went out.

"I thought my hat covered my eyes or something at first," Mulholland said. "I threw my hat off really quick and came to grip with the lights out. My catcher was lying flat on the ground. The fastball hit him right in the mask. He wasn't hurt. He was laughing.

"The umpire told me it would have been strike three. I knew it was. I was kind of mad about it."

The lights returned and play resumed 30 minutes later, but Mulholland didn't take the mound again, since the delay was a bit lengthy. A Pendleton reliever threw one more pitch to finish the inning, and Mulholland got credit for the strikeout.

Before that, in the season opener, Mulholland pitched five innings, striking out 11 using mostly fastballs.

COLLEGE STILL THE PLAN: The talk around Mulholland is all about the draft and his professional stock, but as of now, the Bradenton, Fla., native - who played in the Under Armour All-Star Game at Wrigley Field last year -- is focused on pitching and playing outfield for the Rebels next season.

Ole Miss beat out many other top programs for Mulholland's signature, including a final group of Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Florida and Central Florida. He also had offers from a long list, including Florida State, Virginia, LSU and Georgia.

Since committing and signing, Mulholland has grown closer the Rebel staff and is even more certain of his decision.

"I talk to coach (Carl) Lafferty, coach (Matt) Mossberg and coach (Mike Bianco) all the time," Mulholland said. "They are like family to me. I let them know how I do after each game."

Mulholland signed while former recruiting coordinator Rob Reinstetle was still with Ole Miss, but his departure hasn't been a deterrent.

"I didn't know what to think when I heard about it, and I still don't know the full details," Mulholland said. "But it's not that big of a deal. I chose Ole Miss because of the people, the environment and because I love the facilities.

"The coaching staff up there is close and a family to me, like I said, and I'll be even closer to them when I get up there. It's different with (Reinstetle) not there, but it doesn't change anything. I know Ole Miss is a place I will enjoy and can prepare me for after college."

Mulholland has yet to choose an advisor to assist with his preparation and aftermath of the draft, and it's not certain he will at any point.

"If I feel like I need one at some point, I will, but I'm not worried about it," Mulholland said. "I feel good without one right now. No reason for it.

"If the draft is something I need to consider, then great, but I know Ole Miss is a great option that is waiting on me. There's nothing to stress about."

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