Jeff Manto spent one season as an Oriole, but it was eventful for him. During the 1995 season he tied a major league record with four homers in four consecutive at-bats in June and he was also around when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record.
He fondly remembers that season with the Orioles and today, Manto is back with the club after being hired as its minor league hitting coordinator. He replaces Mike Boulanger, who, after two years in that role, will move into an amateur and pro scouting position in 2014.
“I’m really excited,” Manto said this afternoon about his new position. “Often times there is a buzz in baseball about what team and organization is on the rise and without question the buzz has certainly been the Orioles. To get an opportunity to join the Orioles is exciting for me.”
Manto interviewed with executive vice-president Dan Duquette and O’s director of player development Brian Graham. Manto played for Graham in Triple-A in 1997 and Graham hired him for the same coordinator role with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003, and now they are reunited with the Orioles.
“That was most of it,” Manto said of what led him to the Orioles. “We have been together for a long time and we are definitely in cahoots when it comes to developing players.”
Manto went on to serve as a big league hitting coach for the Pirates in 2006-07 and for the Chicago White Sox the last two years. The Sox, who were fourth in the AL in runs in 2012, fell to last in the league in runs this season and Manto was fired with one day left in the regular season.
Now he is excited about his new role with the Orioles. What will he bring to the job?
“I just want to continue to do what they’re doing,” Manto said. “Brian has hired a lot of good people. A lot of the players I’ve seen on video and looked at scouting reports are in a good position. I just want to help these guys get better.
“What is important is that they know themselves and identify what kind of hitter they can be in the big leagues. We don’t want guys thinking they are power hitters if they are not.
“Players read about the home runs and RBIs and sometimes players can’t do that. It takes a special person to drive in 100 runs. Until you identify what they are and their role, they need to understand what they are.”
Manto said his four years as a major league coach will help him in this role on the O’s farm as he knows what it takes to hit at the big league level.
“The ongoing thing today is being aware of your strike zone,” Manto said. “That goes hand-in-hand with on-base percentage. On-base is a by product of your approach.
“We’ll get with these players and teach differently at every level. You want kids to be balanced and ready to hit at the lower levels. As they progress and learn the strike zone all the major league things come into play like on-base percentage and situational hitting. It is a process, that is for sure.”
Manto said the person in his role in the minors must work closely with Jim Presley, the Orioles hitting coach.
“It is his show. Whatever he needs to get done, there will be no questions asked and we’ll get it done. It is important that Jim has what he wants down at the minor league level,” Manto said.