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Pullin making change to second base

June 18, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

It started one day back in fifth grade. Andrew Pullin was messing around with his friends and threw a ball left-handed.

Oddly, it felt natural, so he kept doing it. It became so natural, the right-hander began pitching with both hands. By the time he was a senior at Centralia High School in Washington, Pullin was pitching both left-handed and right-handed in games.

He had a 90 mph fastball with his right hand, and an 80 mph fastball with a big, looping curveball with his left hand.

“It was slow and loopy, but it worked and got guys out,” Pullin said with a smile.

He's been able to put his specially made glove away since he was drafted and signed by the Phillies in the 2012 draft. That glove, which he could seamlessly switch hands with, only comes out now when there's some time to mess around.

He won't have to worry about pitching as a member of the Williamsport Crosscutters. Instead, the left-handed hitter is trying to learn a new position than the outfielder he was drafted as.

Under the guidance of former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, Pullin has turned into a second baseman. Although he was the 27th high school outfielder to be selected during the 2012 draft, Gillick made the suggestion to Pullin about making the switch during the Gulf Coast League season.

He played seven games in the GCL last summer at second base, making just one error in 28 chances.

“He wanted to see if I could do it, so I took a few there and Pat thought I could do it,” said Pullin during Williamsport Crosscutters media day Saturday. “So in the last couple weeks in the GCL I started working with (minor league infield coordinator) Doug Mansolino and I've just been working on it since then. All of (instructional league) was spent working on second base.”

It wasn't that Pullin couldn't handle the outfield, his bat may just profile better as a second baseman. He's not going to be your consummate power-hitting corner outfielder, although he packs quite the pop in his 6-foot, 185-pound frame.

He's already an advanced hitter who has a great feel for hitting. He hit .321 in 41 games in the Gulf Coast League a year ago with an .839 OPS. His bat will be better tested this year with the Crosscutters as he faces more college pitchers.

“I've always felt comfortable hitting. I never really worried about that,” Pullin said. “I just always felt like I could hit.”

He already feels far more comfortable playing second base than when he started doing so near the end of last summer. He's gone from being a mechanical player, to finding some more fluidity in his motions.

Saturday, as he took throws at second base to turn double plays during the Cutters' workout, his footwork around the bag was solid and he had a quick transition to a strong throwing arm.

The toughest part of the transition is figuring out where he needs to be on the field for every situation. It's something that will get easier with more repetitions, but Pullin can already see a change.

“I still have a long ways to go, but it's a lot better than when I started,” Pullin said. “I was like a robot out there. But it's gotten a lot better.”

One thing's for sure, when he receives that throw at second base, he no longer has to worry about which hand to throw with.

 
 

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