Top prospect Cedric Mullins is the Orioles’ new center fielder, the team announced Friday. Mullins was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day and is making his major debut during the Orioles’ series opener against the Red Sox, while the club’s established center fielder, Adam Jones, shifts over to his new spot in right field.
Mullins, 23, came in at no. 9 in the Orioles’ system during MLB Pipeline’s midseason prospect rankings this year. His speed and defensive ability has made him a covetable asset in the outfield, and his combined .288/.346/.465 batting line, 11 home runs, and 21 stolen bases (in 22 chances) at Double-A and Triple-A have made him an equal threat in the lineup.
It’s an amicable passing of the torch for veteran outfielder and four-time Gold Glover Jones, whose fWAR dipped to a career-worst 0.4 mark in 2018 even as he slashed .281/.310/.430 with 12 homers and a .740 OPS for the club. Per MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, Jones is expected to be permanently stationed at the right field corner after spending over a decade in center field, though the team isn’t pushing him to scale back his playing time by any means — according to comments made by skipper Buck Showalter, he’ll continue to play “as long as he wants to.”
Jones, for his part, doesn’t appear rattled by the change.
Not long after the new ownership group bought the Miami Marlins, face of the franchise Derek Jeter made it clear that he wanted the home runs sculpture beyond the outfield fence gone. He simply doesn’t like it aesthetically and many think that, among Jeter’s goals, he’d like to erase any trace of Jeff Loria’s legacy, which includes the sculpture.
The problem: the sculpture is not Jeter’s to remove. The sculpture is public property, purchased as part of the Art in Public Places program, which requires art to be installed for the public in county-owned buildings, which includes Marlins Park. Miami-Dade officials have said that moving it was not possible as the sculpture was “not moveable” and was “permanently installed: as it was designed specifically for Marlins Park. And that’s before you get into how logistically complicated it would be to move it. It’s seven stories tall and is connected to a hydraulic system, plumbing and there’s electricity.
What Jeter wants, however, Jeter eventually gets. From the Miami Herald:
The Miami Marlins won county permission on Tuesday to move its home-run sculpture out of Marlins Park to the plaza outside . . . In its new location outside, “Homer” will still turn on for home runs, as well as at the end of every home win and every day at 3:05 p.m., an homage to Miami’s original area code.
It may or may not be moved before Opening Day, but once it is moved there will be a new seating and standing room only area for spectators where the sculpture currently sits.