Orioles first base prospect Trey Mancini had a breakout season across two levels in 2015, showing the contact and power ability that enticed the Orioles to draft him in the eighth round out of Notre Dame in 2013.
After hitting .284/.326/.409 with 10 homers at Single-A Delmarva and High-A Frederick in 2014, Mancini took a step forward last year, hitting .341/.375/.563 with 21 homers and 43 doubles at Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He also helped lead the Baysox to an Eastern League title.
A numbers crunch at Triple-A Norfolk meant Mancini began this year back at Bowie, where he's picked up where left off, hitting .308/.438/.769 with five home runs. Mancini joined
Glenn Clark Radio
April 12 to discuss his hot start and his future with the Orioles, given that O's first baseman Chris Davis is in the first year of a lucrative seven-year deal.
The Orioles' Christian Walker found himself in a similar situation as Mancini this spring -- as a first base prospect blocked at the big league level. The Orioles transitioned Walker to left field in spring training, and he's continued playing left at Norfolk. Walker had only played first base in the Orioles' organization from the time he was drafted in 2012 to 2015.
Would the Orioles be open to experimenting with a corner outfield spot with Mancini?
"[The Orioles] haven't approached me about playing in the outfield," Mancini said. "I'm a first baseman, at least for now. … I'm definitely capable of playing the outfield, but I'm also going to respect their wishes for me. As of now, I'm just going to go out and play first every day."
Mancini, however, does have some outfield experience in his past. Mancini said that after his freshman year of college, his summer team lost some position players due to injury, forcing his team to play a pitcher at first base and Mancini in left.
"I really enjoyed it," Mancini said. "I liked it a lot."
For now, Mancini is focusing on what he can control, and that's getting better every day at Bowie. Mancini said he's been seeing a steady diet of changeups and breaking balls, with pitchers shying away from challenging him with fastballs. One of Mancini's goals is identifying sliders more effectively.
"I'm trying to work on my pitch selection," Mancini said. "I'm still aggressive -- I still have the same overall approach as last year, but I also think I can have the tendency to chase a lot of balls out of the zone, especially sliders that maybe start in the zone and then break out. So I've been trying to recognize my pitches better. And I think I have -- I've gone a lot deeper into some counts and just trying to find a pitch that I can drive."
Mancini's days at Notre Dame overlapped with Pat Connaughton, whose future with the Orioles continues to be murky. Mancini and Connaughton, a right-handed pitcher, played together during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Connaughton, a two-sport star with the Irish, was drafted by the Orioles during the fourth round of the 2014 draft after his junior year.
Connaughton signed a contract with the Orioles with the intention of returning to South Bend, Ind., for his senior year to play basketball and continuing his baseball career thereafter. However, he had a productive senior year on the hardwood and was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets during the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft before being traded to the Portland Trailblazers. Connaughton, 23, decided to pursue an NBA career and averaged a tick more than four minutes a game during his rookie year.
"I haven't talked to him, but he's been keeping his arm in shape," Mancini said of Connaughton. "I know that he throws a baseball with his dad a pretty good amount whenever he can, so he's definitely got it in the back of his mind. I almost guarantee that he'll be back in an Orioles uniform whenever he's done playing basketball, like I said, and I don't know when that is. That should be Pat's decision, but he's going to be totally, absolutely be capable to come back and play for us."
For more from Mancini, listen to the full interview here: