By Steven Eggert
It was the first MAAC series game against Fairfield on April 7, 2012, and junior Jerry Mulderig hit a go-ahead two-run double in the top of the ninth inning to give Rider a 5-3 lead. In the bottom of the inning, he was called to the mound by Head Coach Barry Davis for his first career save opportunity.
It was the first time Mulderig presented his versatility by moving from the starting right-fielder to pitcher in the same game. He pitched a perfect inning to preserve the win. To this day, he remembers it as one of his greatest baseball moments.
“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Mulderig said. I was really into the moment, and finishing the game like that was fantastic. I think that was a big turning point for my coach to realize, ‘I can trust him; I can go to him if I need him.”
A little more than a year later, Mulderig has as many as 10 teams scouting him, including the Tampa Bay Rays, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
This is a change of pace from his senior year of high school when Davis was the only coach to show interest in Mulderig. He watched him play in the Carpenter Cup, a baseball tournament consisting of the tri-state area’s best high-school players.
“Coming out of high school I was a good baseball player, not fantastic, but I had no offers; not even a phone call from anyone,” Mulderig said. “I played really well in the Carpenter Cup. That was when Coach called me and said, ‘We want you.’ It’s motivated me to prove to some teams that I could have been a lot for them. Obviously I can thank Davis for bringing me here and giving me the chance to prove to everyone I can play.”
Mulderig has become one of the best all-around players on the Broncs. He’s second on the team with 14 stolen bases, tied for the team lead with 49 hits and has a .360 batting average, which ranks fifth in the MAAC. On the mound he has a 3-2 record with a 4.50 ERA.
Though he has performed well and contributed more this season offensively, many Major League Baseball scouts have observed his pitching. At 6’4” with a fastball that clocks near the mid-’90’s, he has the potential to play professionally, according to Davis.
“Scouts are looking at upside and developing,” Davis said. “He certainly has the physical tools to be a very good pitcher. He has the size, and he has the velocity. One of the problems is that it’s hard to dedicate all the time to one or the other, because he does both.”
In addition to a high-speed fastball, he throws a change-up and a slider.
“My best off-speed pitch is my change-up,” Mulderig said. “It’s 7 to 8 mph slower and it dives off at the end. I think it’s tough for both lefties and righties. My slider has been developing a lot better than what it was. It started as a curveball, but I’ve worked with my coaches and it’s developed into a sharper pitch. That’s going to be a big pitch in the later parts of the season.”
Mulderig feels that having several scouts at a time see his games has a positive impact on his performance.
“I think it helps me a lot,” Mulderig said. “Knowing that people are coming to watch me play influences me and motivates me to play as hard as I can. And hopefully they like me as a pitcher; maybe they’ll like me as a hitter too.”
Through his experience with former players, Davis understands how unpredictable the scouting process can be.
“He may or may not get drafted; I have no idea,” Davis said. “It’s certainly out of our control. All you can do is get yourself ready, work hard, do everything you’re supposed to do and at the end of the day, you can say, ‘Hey, I did everything. I gave 100%.’”
Mulderig hopes to get drafted, but if the offer does not blow him over he will have no problem returning to Rider.
“It all depends on the situation that is presented,” Mulderig said. “If the round is right, and it’s a good offer for me, then I’m going to take that and play. If it is a non-negotiable offer that I don’t see as important as leaving school over, then I’ll just come back here for a year, finish my school, get my degree, and play my odds next year at the draft.”