It is a carryover from the end of his junior season, when he batted .486 over his last 25 games for the Fighting Irish to end the year batting .389. He needed just three more hits and he would have hit .400.
The strong finish in college and solid debut pro season with Aberdeen came about, Mancini said, more due to his attitude than anything he really has done with his swing.
“My freshman and sophomore and beginning of my junior year (this season), I’d get really mad if I would hit a ball hard right at somebody and not get a hit. I made a conscious decision to change that. My day-to-day attitude is now better and it helps out in the long run to have a better attitude. I matured a lot this year,” Mancini said.
In fact, the 21-year-old right-handed hitter can pinpoint the exact day he made the major attitude adjustment. It was April 17 and Notre Dame was playing Bowling Green. Notre Dame led 12-0, but the game got rained out.
“That was one game where I was noticeably very mad,” Mancini said. “My coach (Mike Aoki) sent me an e-mail and said I needed to clean it up and I was a leader on the team. So I went to the park, making sure I didn’t lose my cool, and that was my main priority and the baseball part took care of itself. First and foremost, I try to think about being a good teammate.
“I woke up the next day and said I need to stop acting like that. Ever since then, I’ve just enjoyed baseball a lot more. It was a pretty quick change I made.”
It was almost like he flipped a switch, he said. He started having more fun playing the game and his average started trending up.
“Notre Dame is my favorite place on earth,” he said. “I had such a great experience there and the guys there will always be my best friends.”
With Aberdeen in 61 games, Mancini is batting .322 with 16 doubles, three homers and 32 RBIs. Mancini has a .448 slugging percentage and .825 OPS for the IronBirds.
He ranks second in the New York-Penn League in hits, third in batting average and fifth in total bases.
Aberdeen manager Matt Merullo has described his team as a hard-working group with excellent chemistry and leadership, and Mancini agrees with that.
“This has been an awesome team to play on,” Mancini said. “The chemistry is great and we pick each other up and have a real good time in the clubhouse. We’ve all meshed really well.”
When the minor league season ends, Mancini will report to the O’s instructional league workouts in Sarasota.
“Just getting better there is my goal,” he said. “I expect to work on some defensive things I can get better with. Some minor tweaks that will make me more consistent in the field. My main focus will be getting better defensively.”
For now he wants to finish off his solid season with a good finish and help lead Aberdeen to its first playoff berth. In its 12th season, Aberdeen has only had one winning season in team history.
“We’re aware,” Mancini said of the club’s losing history. “It was ‘06 or something where they had a good year. We know Aberdeen has never made the playoffs and we’re trying to change that.”