Nick McMullen, only a junior at Payson High, is rapidly becoming one of the most heralded high school baseball players in Arizona.
The honors began flowing in at the conclusion of the regular season when coaches selected him to the All-Division III, Section III first team.
About one week later in a second balloting of coaches, McMullen was tapped to the All-Division III first team.
He was also named co-All Section III Player of the Year in a tie with Nick Wojtysiak and Andrew Bryniarski, both of Fountain Hills.
Members of the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association, in their annual season-ending meeting held just days ago, named McMullen to the Division III All-State first team as a first baseman.
The accumulation of honors has made McMullen the most acclaimed PHS player since Bryan Zumbro and Hunter Walden spearheaded the 1999 state championship team.
Walden, however, had his picture and bio published in Sports Illustrated, a feat McMullen has not yet attained.
But, hey, he’s got another year, so it could happen.
Just one glance at the PHS stat sheets explains why coaches are lavish in the praise of the PHS student-athlete.
With 11 home runs last season, McMullen is ranked first in D-III, Section III and third in the state behind Arcadia’s Max Schuman and Gilbert’s Jack Zoeliner, who both slugged 12.
Also, McMullen’s seven triples and seven doubles are among the best marks in D-III.
He also ranks fourth in RBIs with 47 and ninth in runs scored with 41. Doubly impressive is his .554 on base percentage, his state third-ranked 1.061 slugging percentage and his .515 batting average.
Even more mind-boggling, although McMullen stands is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, he had the speed and moxie to steal 14 bases.
“Some coaches, who have not seen Nick play, see his stats and think maybe we are padding them, but we aren’t,” said PHS coach Brian Young. “All of them are legitimate.”
In short, his 2013 credentials are marks some young players only dream about.
With the season at an end, McMullen says he will not travel to the Valley for club play but rather remain in Payson and play on a local team being put together by Young.
The coach says it’s extremely gratifying to have some of his players pass on Valley-area play and opt to remain in Payson to train with their high school teammates.
For the summer, Young has scheduled five doubleheaders in Payson. “I’d like to get a couple more,” he said.
Once football season rolls around next fall, Young will cease practices to give his athletes who also play football the chance to do so.