The Baltimore Orioles may have a tough decision on their hands at the end of Spring Training if they fill their outfield need by signing a free agent. Signing an outfield free agent could further block the progress of high level prospect Trey Mancini.
Trey Mancini was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 8th round of the June 2013 amateur draft. He put up very good numbers while at Notre Dame and despite a “long swing”, the Orioles were confident they could work with him to straighten up his stance and increase his bat speed. Indeed, the Orioles have made great progress with Mancini and Mancini may now be ready to pay the Orioles back.
Over 1,878 minor league at bats, Mancini has hit .306 with 54 home runs and 275 rbi. He reached base at a .357 clip and generated an .829 OPS. He was named the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year in 2015, and when he finally made it to Triple A Norfolk this past season, he hit .280 with 22 home runs and 54 rbi. The Orioles called Mancini up in September of 2016, and he responded by hitting 3 home runs and driving in 5 runs in just 14 at bats. Mancini is currently rated by MLB.com as their 5th best prospect.
I mentioned Mancini’s “long swing” which does cost him in the form of strikeouts. In his 1,878 minor league at bats, Mancini struck out 371 times including 123 times in 483 at bats at Norfolk this past season.
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Defensively, Mancini has played a decent first base; however, with Chris Davis blocking his path, it’s possible the Orioles could move Mancini to the outfield. It’s doubtful that his outfield defense would be worse than that of Mark Trumbo.
If the Orioles don’t re-sign Mark Trumbo and then fail to sign a power-hitting outfielder, is it possible Mancini would get the chance to play everyday in the outfield? Time will tell. At 25 years of age, Mancini doesn’t have anything left to prove in the minors.
If the Orioles do sign a power-hitting outfielder (say Trumbo or Jose Bautista), Mancini may be better off playing regularly in Norfolk although it could also stunt his growth. If he makes the 25-man roster, Mancini may have to split time at first base, outfield and designated hitter.
I still feel the Orioles will re-sign Mark Trumbo although it appears Colorado and St.Louis are making larger pushes to get the MLB home run leader from 2016. If the Orioles are going to become less of a power juggernaut and more of an on-base / speedier team, signing Trumbo and adding Mancini to the 25 man roster would appear to be a step in the opposite direction.
I would like to see Mancini get 400+ major league at bats in 2017 to see what he can do. That said, it could set the Orioles back offensively if he gets these at bats through some type of rotation with (say) Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis at outfield, first base and designated hitter.
What are your thoughts on Trey Mancini? Is he ready to play with the Baltimore Orioles? Would he make the team better in 2017? Always happy to hear your thoughts.