- Aug 13, 2019: Not long after suffering one of the more lopsided losses in franchise history last weekend, Trey Mancini stood at his locker and, through gritted teeth, spoke of turning the page. Resilience is a theme for these Orioles, with ample opportunity throughout this oft-trying season. With records piling up, Mancini spoke about the challenge of avoiding “a loser’s mentality,” despite the dog days of August still very much ahead. It was a short interview, but it served as a snapshot of the outsized off-the-field role Mancini has assumed while continuing to pile up numbers on it.
“Even though this is his third year in the big leagues, he recognizes that we don’t have a whole lot of experience here, and I think guys really look up to him and how hard he plays and how he prepares,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think it’s natural that he’s becoming a voice in our clubhouse and somebody that all our guys look up to.”
Hitting helps too, of course, and Mancini has hardly slowed down in that sphere. He’s spent a month’s worth of second-half games quelling any worry that his breakout first half was a mirage, hitting for more power than at any point in his career since the All-Star break.
Now at .279 with an .884 OPS and 29 homers through 113 games, Mancini continues to be a ray of light on the darker days of this rebuilding season, like when he homered in each game of the pair of losses to the Yankees.
The peaks and valleys that defined Mancini’s first two seasons in the Majors are gone. Four-and-a-half months into Year 3, he’s emerged as a consistent threat and one of the most productive hitters in the American League.
Let’s dig into the numbers to take a look at two main reasons why:
He is crushing fastballs
We don’t have to look any further for proof of one of Mancini’s main skills in the box -- combining his strength with a near-elite ability to mash velocity.
There is little other way to explain how Mancini somehow connected with a 96.6 mph fastball from James Paxton that sizzled in 4.17 feet above home plate, well above the top of the strike zone. Mancini called it “definitely the highest pitch I’ve ever hit out before, probably in my life.”
Not just that, but it was the highest pitch hit for a home run in the Majors this season, per Statcast. It surpassed the previous high-water mark for 2019, set by Didi Gregorius with a grand slam against the Rays on July 16. The pitch hit by Gregorius was 4.02 feet high.
“I just reacted to it,” Mancini said. “I tried to tomahawk it out and I got it definitely as well as I could for it being in that spot. But looking back on it, I’m more of a low-ball hitter than high ball I’d say, so I was pretty surprised after the fact. Normally I foul that pitch straight back.”
Toss in the more pedestrian 89.6 mph sinker from Joe Mantiply that Mancini sent into the seats in Game 2, and a long-emerging trend continues: as far as pitches go, both came in relatively straight. And Mancini mashes those.
Breaking balls and offspeed pitches:
Mancini has also improved against breaking balls and offspeed pitches this season -- his numbers are up across the board -- but it’s against heaters where you see the biggest change. Mancini’s .306 average against fastballs of 95 mph or harder puts him on par with superstars like Kris Bryant, Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor; he’s boosted his slugging .170 points (.498 to .668) against fastballs of any kind.
Mancini's past nine homers have all come on fastballs, and his total of 23 dingers off heaters are tied with Mike Trout for the most in the Majors this season.
His power plays to all fields
Now let’s talk direction. Not only did both of Mancini’s homers come on fastballs, both went to the opposite field. This is another theme for Mancini, who says he’s “always been fully committed to hitting the ball to right-center, and that’s how I grew up learning how to hit.”
“I’ve really, really tried to commit to keeping my approach on that side,” Mancini said. “There was a time when I was struggling, and I was really chasing that inside pitch a lot. Pitches in off the plate, with the velocity guys have nowadays, you just can’t hit it. … . It’s not really a secret -- I look for pitches out over [the plate].”
For a player who swung at a pitch that hit his finger earlier this year, it’s an approach that requires constant behind-the-scenes work with hitting coaches Don Long and Howie Clark, who counsel Mancini through short-bat and ultra-close overhand drills meant to simulate high-velocity pitches.
“Everything inside, we try to lay off that,” Mancini said.
It’s essentially a small sacrifice that has opened up the rest of the plate and the entire field, and it allows Mancini’s power to play. He’s sliced his ground-ball rate from 55.5 to 45.2 this year and as a result, he is yet to yank an extra-base hit to left all year, and he has hit 22 homers either to straightaway center or the other way. That’s more than any hitter in the Majors.
|Birth City:||Winter Haven, FL|
|Draft:||Orioles #8 - 2013 - Out of Univ. of Notre Dame (IN)|
Mancini grew up as neighbors with Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Matt Diaz, a Lakeland, Florida resident. Mancini was a member of the Sunshine State's heralded 2010 high school class, and he showed off against some of the state's top competition, when he led Polk County in hitting.
"Growing up I played tennis until high school -- when I stopped to concentrate on baseball," Trey said.
In 2010, Trey graduated from Winter Haven High School in Florida, hitting .480 with 23 runs scored, 10 doubles, six home runs and 31 RBI and registered a .506 on-base percentage and .853 slugging percentage.
Trey's freshman year at Notre Dame (2011), he led the Fighting Irish team in the triple crown categories by hitting .323/.385/.577 with 9 home runs and 34 RBIs, earning Big East Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2013, his junior year, Mancini led the Big East Conference in batting (.389), and total bases (138) while ranking 2nd in slugging (.603).
June 2013: The Orioles chose Mancini in the 8th round, out of Notre Dame. And he signed for a bonus of $151,900, via scout Kirk Fredriksson.
In 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Mancini as the 25th-best prospect in the Orioles organization. He fell to #30 in the spring of 2015. But a fine 2015 season moved Trey all they way up to 8th-best in the O's farm system in the winter before 2016 spring training.
And in the spring of 2017, they had Trey at 5th-best prospect in the O's system.
Trey provides leadership to a clubhouse. He has a great attitude. A solid makeup guy and a winner. Mancini really wants this big league career thing to happen. He comes from a good family in central Florida.
In 2015, Mancini was named the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year. Trey slashed .341/.375/.563 with 21 home runs, 89 RBI, and 70 total extra base hits across High- and Double-A.
Mancini won the Eastern League batting title by hitting .359 in 84 games after being promoted to Bowie. With Bowie, Mancini was also part of a championship-winning team. The 6’4″ first baseman also nearly halved his error total, down from nine in 2014 to just five in 126 total games. On his way to a .341 batting average, Mancini recorded 15 three-hit games and two four-hit games.
September 20, 2016: There may not be a better way to endear yourself to a city in your Major League debut. With the Orioles hitless through 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night, Trey Mancini stepped to the plate for his second-career at-bat and crushed a homer to left-center field for his first big league hit in the Orioles' 5-2 loss to the Red Sox.
Sept 24, 2016: Orioles rookie Trey Mancini is making quite the name for himself in a short period of time. Mancini, became just the third player in Major League Baseball history to homer in each of his first three starts with a solo blast in the 6-1 win over the D-backs.
"It's been incredible, you know?" Mancini said. "I could never imagine it happening this way, and it's still hard to believe. A week ago, I was down in Florida prepared for this, but it's cool, a week later, with everything that's happened, to be here in Baltimore and to contribute to it, to a postseason run." Mancini, who joins Trevor Story (who also did it this year) and Carlos Quentin, went deep off D-Backs reliever Robbie Ray to open the fourth inning and give the O's a 3-0 lead.
"That's a great, great guy. He's having a lot of fun, too," said Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo, who hit his MLB-leading 45th home run also. "It's really impressive. This is a tough level; he's facing real quality pitching up to this point, and he's made the most of it."
"The biggest surprise? I think maybe the amount of support I've gotten from the fans and community and how many of my really close friends and family have come out to watch," Mancini said of his first week in the Majors. "Not that that was a surprise, but that's probably been the best part of the week for me." (B Ghiroli - MLB.com - Sept 25, 2016)
According to his former college coach, there's still a role Mancini could excel in at the big league level.
"[Orioles manager] Buck Showalter could tell him that he has to clean the bathrooms every single day to get playing time, and he'd be in there cleaning the bathrooms," Notre Dame baseball coach Mik Aoki said in a Glenn Clark Radio interview April 19, 2017.
Mancini was already on the Fighting Irish roster when Aoki left Boston College to take over the Notre Dame program in 2011. Aoki had heard from an assistant that Mancini was a good hitter, but it wasn't enough for Aoki to fully jump on board immediately.
"The one mistake I made with Trey is that he didn't start his very first game of his college career," Aoki said. "That's probably the one mistake that I made, that he sat on the bench in his very first game. But I corrected that pretty quickly, and so he started every single other game, I think, along the way as long as he was healthy."
That decision paid off, as over the course of the next two seasons Mancini hit .320 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs for the Irish in 107 games. The skill set that allowed him to work his way through the Orioles' system was on display quickly.
"The thing that I think I really came to appreciate is he's a really aggressive hitter," Aoki said. "So sometimes you can make him look bad early in a count, throw him a slider when he's looking for a fastball-type of a thing. But the thing that I really became appreciative of with him was the way that if a pitcher went back to that same well, they often times played a pretty severe price for it.
"It's just his pitch recognition and his ability to just make adjustments in the course of one at-bat was really, really impressive. And it was something that you had to see over a period of time to really, truly appreciate it."
As much as Mancini's baseball ability has carried him to a place where he's become Baltimore's newest baseball folk hero, his former coach believes his qualities as a human being have played an equal role.
"I believe really, really strongly that long-term success in anything you do is driven by the character of the person," Aoki said. "Trey comes from a great family; Beth and Tony are phenomenal people. His sisters are great kids, and Trey is just a terrific, terrific human being. I think that when he gets back to who and what he is—he understands the hard work that goes into it, he understands that team-first mentality."
Yet Aoki warns those qualities shouldn't be taken for granted.
"I just know the type of kid that he is. He's a terrific kid. [But] I don't think that anyone should ever mistake how driven he is to be successful with what a nice kid he is," Aoki said. "If he goes into a little bit of a slump, he gets pretty ornery. But he's never going to let that be in the way of treating people the right way and making the right decisions, representing his family and the Orioles in the very best light that he can." (Glenn Clark - Press Box-April 20, 2017)
When Trey was a kid, he told his father, Tony, that he wanted to be a professional baseball player. Despite how difficult that path can be, there was no doubt in Tony's mind that it could happen.
"[My parents] thought it was awesome," Mancini said. "I think they were kind of like me, someone's got to make the Major Leagues. You know, there's a 4-year-old right now that's going to make the Major Leagues one day. So why not me?"
Growing up, Mancini lived just 30 minutes from Disney World, which is where the family would always go out to dinner for Father's Day. But this year, the family will be going out in Baltimore, after Tony spends his Father's Day watching his son play at Camden Yards.
Between the ages of 3 and 5, Mancini would spend the majority of weekends at Disney. When he wasn't at the park, Mancini was outside playing catch with his father. Although Tony was a doctor and did not always have a lot of spare time, any free second went to playing with and supporting Mancini in any way he could.
"When I was 3, I would have him throw me a ball and wouldn't let him go inside until I caught it," Mancini said. "It would take like an hour at times. But yeah, he would always do whatever it took to help me accomplish my dreams." (Bell - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Trey has a lot of baseball memories that he has shared with his father, but the one that sticks out most to him is from when he was just 5 or 6 years old, playing T-ball.
"We had like 100-foot fields, so we could actually hit home runs at the time," Mancini said. "And I remember hitting my first home run of my life and I remember my parents behind home plate with their arms up. You know, they were really happy. I just remember seeing them as I was rounding the bases. It was awesome."
Not only did his parents support him in the bleachers, but, as many parents do, they also made a lot of sacrifices for him to be able to pursue baseball as a career that he has not forgotten.
"They sacrificed a lot for me," Mancini said. "There were probably some cool vacations that we could've gone on and stuff but we were staying at Best Westerns in the middle of nowhere for baseball tournaments. Stuff like that I definitely don't take for granted."
The closeness that Mancini had with his father has not gone away. Father and son talk at least once each week, and the humility Tony has always had has never changed. Tony has always stressed a team-first mindset that Mancini has carried with him throughout his baseball career.
In June 2017, in a game against the Pirates, Mancini had a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the ninth inning before hitting a walk-off home run in extras. The slugger heard from his dad after the game, but the praise was not on his individual performance, but the team's success.
"He texted me and was like, 'Great job,'" Mancini said. "He was proud, but he was like, 'Good job contributing to a win,' is pretty much what he said. He's a pretty understated guy, just like me." (Bell - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
2017 Rookie Year: Mancini had a 17-game hitting streak from Sept. 11-29, the longest by a rookie in club history and the longest by a first-year player in the Majors this season.
Mancini's 159 hits ranked first among qualified rookies, finishing ahead of Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (158), Benintendi (155), and Judge (154). He also led rookies with 47 multi-hit games and was second in batting average, third in slugging percentage, fourth in on-base percentage, fifth in RBIs and tied for seventh in home runs. In a year without Aaron Judge, Mancini would have had a strong case for winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award. The only two Orioles with more homers in their rookie season were Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray.
Mancini finished 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Nov 17, 2017: Country music superstar Brett Young got a VIP clubhouse tour and played catch with Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini at Camden Yards in a special interview that will air on Country Music Television's (CMT) Hot 20.
The segment will air with Mancini and Young bonding and helping CMT host Katie Cook practice her grip. Mancini—coming off a breakout season in which he was named as an American League Rookie of the Year finalist— swapped baseball stories with Young, who was a college pitcher at the University of Mississippi.
"It was an absolute pleasure to meet Brett," Mancini said. "I enjoyed getting to hear his story. He has a huge passion for baseball and you could tell he was excited to be back in a baseball park. It's a pretty cool thing for him to chase another passion and succeed after injuries ended his baseball career." Mancini and Young—whose baseball aspirations were cut short by an elbow injury—talked to Cook about how fans drive them and make their dreams and careers possible.
While Mancini isn't a huge country music fan, Orioles manager and Mississippi State alumnus Buck Showalter is.
"I really enjoy Brett's music, even though he went to Ole Miss," Showalter said, paying homage to the rivalry between the two schools. "I was disappointed that I couldn't be at the ballpark to show him around, but I look forward to watching [the show]." (B Ghiroli - MLB.com - Nov 18, 2017)
Tony Mancini's heroes growing up were Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. But it was an admiration from afar; Mancini grew up in Florida and didn't have much of an opportunity to see those legendary Yankees play. Mancini had a love of baseball, but didn't play himself.
So when his wife, Beth, signed up their 4-year-old son for T-ball in 1996, he thought it would be great for him to play and learn about team sports. That was the extent of it. "I never thought Trey would be a baseball player," Tony said. "I thought he would be a scientist or maybe go into medicine."
The latter occupation would have been fitting considering Tony is a doctor. But he didn't push his son in any specific direction, instead letting him find his own path and passion. Besides, there are a few prerequisites for becoming a doctor. "He doesn't like the sight of blood," Tony said. "So he found another profession."
"I can't stand blood," Trey said. "He and my uncle, who I'm really close with, are both doctors. I mean, they said, 'Do it if you want. But if you're passionate about something else, just go for that. Because it's a high-stress job.' They love what they do. But it's not for everybody, and I decided early on it wasn't for me."
Trey would end up in another occupation some might characterize as high stress when factoring in the 95 to 100 mph fastballs thrown in your general direction from 60 feet and six inches away. And while his dad never played the game, his love for it was passed on through setting up a tee in front of the garage at their home in Winter Haven, Fla., with the object of the game being to hit the tennis ball over the bushes.
T-ball turned into Little League, and Little League turned into travel ball. In 2019, Tony was sitting in the visitors’ dugout at Coors Field, watching his son go through pregame stretches before the Orioles played the Rockies. Several of the players' fathers had accompanied the club on this road trip, a tradition started last season, and coming three weeks ahead of Father's Day. "Now we have the ultimate travel ball experience," Tony said.
Trey is constantly away during the season, traveling all over the country, perhaps not seeing his father as much as he'd like during that part of the year. "Baseball's always been a father-son connection," Trey said. "You always played catch with your dad as a kid. They stayed in cheap motels with you across the country on travel teams. You sacrifice a lot of cool vacations you could be going on to kind of stay in some obscure location for baseball. All of our parents made huge sacrifices for all of us."
The father-son connection was poignant over the weekend in Colorado. Something special that Tony has always been sure to take in is whenever a youngster's eyes light up as Trey signs a baseball. He gets a photo on his phone when that scenario arises, and sends it home to Beth. Maybe it's because he never had that moment with Mantle or Maris, and now his son was giving it to someone else. (Randhawa - mlb.com - 5/26/19)
July 16, 2019: Mancini received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Orioles. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
"I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I went to several midnight premieres," Trey said.
"My teammates consider me the team weatherman. If it looks like there might be a rain delay, or if bad weather is coming, they always ask me what's going to happen."
Mancini said, "I was a straight-A student. I didn't make my first B until my junior year. Then, I graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in political science."
"I live in Nashville in the off-season, but I hate country music."
And, Trey said, "My great gradfather started a pepper company in 1922 -- Mancini Peppers -- which is still operating today." (Orioles Magazine - July, 2019)
When Trey Mancini was around 8 years old, a family friend named Ray Mouton gave him a nickname that would wind up standing the test of time. Noting how he shared a last name with famed boxer Ray Mancini, Mouton, whose son was Little League teammates with Trey, began calling the budding slugger “Boom Boom.” It was the same moniker as Ray Mancini, who won three consecutive WBA lightweight titles in the early '80s.
A few years later, Mancini and another teammate grew into forces in the middle of their Little League lineup. Teammates called the other kid “Bam Bam” and Trey “Boom Boom,” because “we were both giant 12-year-olds who liked hitting home runs.” The nickname stuck, eventually morphing into “Boomer” during Mancini’s college years at Notre Dame.
“Most of my college friends call me ‘Boomer’ and not ‘Trey,’” Mancini said. “I feel like there are some people who might not even know my real name.” (Joe Trezza - MLB.com - Aug. 6, 2019)
Mancini is big and strong. He is focused at the plate and shows raw power but lacks consistency. He generates good bat speed and plus righthanded power from his strong wrists and big uppercut swing—scouts envisioning 20 dingers per year, eventually. And he has an advanced approach at the plate so that he can post high batting averages.
He has improved at making contact with a more level bat path. Trey's swing and bat path help him keep his hands inside the ball, providing him a chance to get to a good fastball but also stay on off-speed pitches. He uses his hands very well—they come into his body, down and then forward, providing good timing that keeps the bat in the hitting zone a long time. (Spring, 2017)
Trey's all-out approach leads to questions about how much success he’ll have against pro pitching, because he can get himself out. So the Orioles asked him to stride into the pitch in 2013, and it gave him better balance and timing.
He is a righthanded gap-to-gap hitter, who drives the ball well to right-center field. His hit tool is above his power tool. But he has both. His power is still mostly pull power, though. (Oct. 2015)
He makes consistent hard contact and has improved his strike-zone discipline. He waits back well on breaking pitches with his disciplined approach. But he will chase a ball up (and out of) the zone.
"Mancini's understanding of the strike zone has made great strides,” Orioles farm director Brian Graham said late in September, 2015. “He’s obviously shown the ability to hit the ball for more power this year. He’s used the whole field, which is probably the best part of his offensive approach. He’s shown the ability to drive the ball, he’s put together quality at-bats. "He doesn't draw many bases on balls, but doesn't strike out a whole lot, either.
Mancini uses the whole field with a line-drive swing. But most of his power is to the pull side. He also has the strength to drive balls out to center and right field, also. His hole: Trey will swing through pitches up in the zone.
"It's just the quality of his at-bats," Orioles director of player development Brian Graham said in 2015. "He's showing patience and better plate discipline. He's driving the and he's facing good pitching."
Early in 2015, Trey changed his set-up in the batter's box. Instead of his old spread-out, lower stance, Mancini went more upright and narrow when digging in at the plate, allowing him to work more on balancing his load and his separation.
"It's just the way I'm standing, and the whole pre-pitch routine is different," Mancini said. "I found it comfortable, and I'm into feeling relaxed when I play. I like it a lot. I just think about hitting everything back up the middle. I think that's helped [with the power]."
Trey is just allowing things come together with a more relaxed approach. He is calm at the plate. And he has enough discipline to wait on a breaking pitch. He grinds out each at-bat, using his hands well and displaying good strike-zone discipline.
Mancini displays plus power and a high average. He has impressive instincts for hitting and good hands.
My whole approach is to hit the first good pitch I can hit, rather than trying to hit a pitch out of the park. And I'm trying not to miss pitches I can hit out," Trey said.
He knows the strike zone and he can hit off-speed pitches. Most power hitters can hit the fastball, but they're allergic to breaking balls. Trey doesn't have many holes, at least to this point. He gets good at-bats against just about any kind of pitcher. (August 2016)
ROOKIE HOMER MARKS
September 25, 2016: Orioles rookie Trey Mancini made quite the name for himself in a short period of time. Mancini became just the third player in Major League Baseball history to homer in each of his first three starts.
April 12, 2017: Trey became the first player in Oriole franchise history to hit 5 home runs in his first 10 games, something Mancini was pleasantly surprised to hear when asked about it by a reporter after the game. Mancini went 2-for-3 with 2 home runs and a walk and a career-high four RBIs.
April 17, 2017: Through the first 12 games of his career, dating back to the 2016 season, Mancini had produced 7 home runs and 14 RBIs. He is just the third player dating back to 1913 to go deep seven times in his first 12 career big league games, joining Trevor Story (2016) and Dino Restelli (1949).
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Mancini's career Major League stats were a .268 batting average, 51 home runs and 305 hits with 141 RBI in 1,139 at-bats.
Mancini plays left field and first base.
Trey is athletic and pretty fluid around the first base bag, surprisingly so for his size (6-foot-4). But overall, his athleticism is marginal (or worse), and he has below-average hands and a bit below-average range at first base.
His defense grades as solid-average, with speed that is a step below average, and an arm that is average, though his throwing motion is a bit stiff.
Mancini displays good footwork around the bag.
He is working hard to become more of a 45 or 50, instead of the 35 or 40 defender he is at first base (on the 20-80 scouting scale). His defense is not considered smooth.
Many of Trey's errors come when throwing the ball. But his tireless work with the glove has made him adequate at first base. He makes the plays.
- Trey has below-average speed.
- April 27, 2019: Trey was hit on the right index finger suffering a contusion. Jose Berrios threw a two-seamer that rode in on Mancini's hands as he swung at the pitch. X-rays were negative. Mancini is day-to-day.