Nazier Mule – Pic by BVM Sports
“I think we’re gonna be open-minded to somebody that might be able to do both or however that evolves going forward.” – Dan Kantrovitz
When the Cubs took New Jersey prepster Nazier Mule In the fourth round of the 2022 draft, he was listed as a pitcher. The young 17-year-old was noted for having an arm that could throw 100 mph but that’s not all. Like most high school baseball players around the country, Mule played both ways. He was a hitter and a picture, which is not uncommon.
Normally, pro teams sort of guide a player to either the batter’s box or the mound. It does not look like the Cubs are going to do that with Mule. He could become their first two-way player of the modern era.
Height – 6-foot-3
Weight – 210
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Age – 17 for two more months
From – Passaic County Technical Institute, New Jersey
You notice quickly that Mule is a pretty good sized kid. He carries his weight well. By that I mean he looks big and strong but he’s not bulky. He could carry a few more pounds and still be fine.
As a player, here are the scouting grades that MLB Pipeline gave him for both pitching and hitting. Remember 20 is the lowest and 80 is the highest. 45-50 is considered average.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall 45
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 40
As for his preference, or lack of preference, of where he is going to play, here is what Mule told Guy Kipp of Tap Into West Essex.
“The Cubs did draft me as a pitcher, but I will also be hitting,” said Mule, who also plays shortstop. “I don’t view myself as either/or. I have done both my whole life. I don’t view myself as more useful one way or the other. I play both sides of the ball well, and I feel I can do it at the next level.”
This spring, Nazier hit 8 home runs and drove in 37 but only pitched 13 innings as he did have some soreness. But according to him, he’s been throwing normally for about a month now. But it was in between his junior year and senior year that Mule made a name for himself. He had only thrown 31 innings with 64 Ks in the spring of his junior year. But it was on the showcase circuit last summer and fall that he was pumping 100 regularly and dominating hitters as well as dropping his own bombs. Case in point…
Perfect Game had this nice graphic that compared him to his peers and you can kind of see how his skill set and data compares to others nationally along with each of his pitches, speed, and exit velo at the plate. So, in other words, Fastball – very good, Exit Velo – very good, infield arm – very good, OF arm (which is an option, too) – very good.
Most national talent evaluators see him more as a pitcher than as a hitter. That goes from MLB Pipeline to Prospects Live to Baseball America. It could be in the long run. But for now, the Cubs are going to let him strap it up both ways.
There are several options the Cubs could possibly take with his development as a two-way player.
1. They could throw him out there every single day in the field playing shortstop or third base or even an outfield spot. He’s a good enough athlete he could handle any of those positions. And then he would occasionally come in and throw in an inning of relief here and there. Instead of bringing a guy in out of the bullpen, he would just go down to the bullpen in between innings warm up, and then enter the game. You just replace him in the field with a guy off the bench. In rookie league, they could do that once a week since he’s only playing five games a week.
2. You could also roll him out there as a position player for four days a week and then he’s having to only focus on pitching one day a week out of the bullpen. Do that either on a Tuesday or a Saturday as teams are off the next day.
3. If the Cubs want him to be a starter on the mound, they could have him play three days as a position player, take a day off and then pitch and then have the next day off. So he’ll be playing four days a week instead of five. And you give his arm rest and he could DH the next day when he came back. Or have him start on Saturdays in rookie league since they are off the next day.
4. Things get a little trickier once you get to class A because most relief pitchers throw twice a week. That would require a huge shift in how he’s used and also in his innings workload unless the Cubs just have him throw once a week, which I doubt. Ideally, he would relieve on Thursday and Sunday and then he would play in the field Tuesday and Wednesday, and then again on Friday and Saturday. With all minor league players taking off Mondays, it gives him a day to rest his arm after pitching the second time in a week. If he starts…well the Cubs will need a fifth option.
Or, the Cubs could do something completely different.
I would love to be in that meeting when the Cubs sit down and go over with Mule his development plan and see what input he has into it going forward. It’s going to be really fun to watch!