SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Trey Mancini hadn't even played the outfield for the Baltimore Orioles. Twelve months later, the Orioles are wondering just how good he can be in left field.
In 2016, manager Buck Showalter had questions about Mancini's throwing arm, and Showalter thought another prospect, Christian Walker, would be a better fit in the outfield. Walker and Mancini were both minor league first basemen.
"He proved me wrong," Showalter said of Mancini. "I didn't think he could be the fielder he was last season."
Mancini ended up starting 87 games in the outfield -- 85 in left and two in right. He filled in for 35 games at first base while Chris Davis was hurt.
While his defense was certainly adequate, his offense made the headlines. Mancini hit .293 with 24 home runs and 78 RBIs and finished third in voting for the American League Rookie of the Year.
Mancini, who will turn 26 March 18, fits nicely now in the clubhouse.
"I think every year, you're a little more experienced, you get a little more comfortable, I guess," Mancini said. "You know all the guys really well, and you know how the camp works and everything like that. It's great just coming back out here and getting back out there with everybody."
During early Grapefruit League games last year, Mancini was still playing first base, but now, it's all outfield, all the time.
"I've just been doing outfield, but I'm going to take some grounders at first because I know there's a chance I'll play there at some point," Mancini said. "I've been focusing on outfield the whole time."
Before the 2017 season, Mancini trained with Orioles vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson in Southern California to prepare for the outfield. He did it again over the winter.
"The first year was basic and just kind of lay of the land out there," Mancini said. "Now, it's a little more getting good jumps and focusing on things like that, which is something I wanted to improve on, so it's a little more technical, I guess now this year.
"I've never been in the outfield this early. You definitely have to take care of your arm a lot and ice it some and make sure that you're on top of that because you definitely make a lot more throws out there than you do at first."
One thing the Orioles don't worry about is Mancini's maturity.
"He's sincere when he says he wants to continue to grow as a defender," Showalter said. "You can tell; no one works harder on his trade than he does. … He's not going to get in his own way."
Showalter said Mancini can hit nearly anywhere in the order, and he's expecting another big offensive year.
"People threw the kitchen sink at him last year," Showalter said. "It wasn't like, 'This year, we're going to throw him something different.' They tried everything.
"It's fun to watch him hit. This guy has come in here like he's trying to make the club. He's always trying to improve. … I don't think he's ever going to get comfortable with success. He's a driven guy."