The Orioles’ Trey Mancini had two very different months to begin this season. In April, he hit five homers in 51 at-bats, but his batting average was .216. In May he hit two homers in 73 at-bats, but his batting average was .342.
The longer he plays a picture is emerging of a pretty well-rounded hitter. One that is hitting for a good batting average (.297 in 140 plate appearances) while also showing the ability to hit the ball to all fields.
This spray chart shows that Mancini is driving the ball all over the ballpark. He has shown the ability to stay on a breaking pitch, and he is seeing curves and sliders 31 percent of the time.
I asked manager Buck Showalter what makes Mancini effective in driving the ball to right and right-center?
“Ego. Lack of it,” he said. “Guys get up here and the power is such an allure. And they get a return for it. That is why a lot of times strikeouts seem to go up up here and the power goes up.
“You can probably think of a few hitters when they first got here how different they were with a lot of their approaches. The challenge is when he gets settled in up here - hopefully in a year or two - that he maintains that approach. It’s a real temptation. Because there is a heck of a return for it (sacrificing average for power), let’s face it. But the challenge for him and us is to keep him in that mode. And he has some pop the other way.”
Showalter points out another aspect that has been big for Mancini is simply that he played at all levels on the farm and never moved to the next one until playing well at the one where he was at.
He hit .300 or above at every level between short-season Single-A Aberdeen through Single-A Delmarva, Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. And then last year, he hit .280 with an OPS of .775 at Triple-A Norfolk.
Since the Orioles drafted him in the eighth round out of Notre Dame in 2013, he has had 1,878 at-bats in the minors.
“He is one of the rare guys that, I don’t want to say mastered, but he doesn’t have to look behind him at a level,” Showalter said. “I mean, I challenge you to find anyone on these fields that has shown they can hit at all the levels. New-York Penn League (in Aberdeen), Delmarva, Frederick, Double-A and Triple-A. It doesn’t happen anymore in our game. They come too fast. And I think a lot of it was because of the position he played.
“That used to be the blueprint of how you developed players. So when they came up here, they had a foundation and they didn’t have that doubt when something would happen. It is hard to believe that that is unusual in our game, but it is. Pitchers are like that too now. They go in a hurry.”
Mancini has gone 18 games without a homer but his bat has been so effective, has anyone noticed? He is hitting .290 with an OPS of .759 versus left-handed pitching and .303/.951 against right-handers. Overall on the year, he is batting .297 with seven homers, 24 RBIs and an OPS of .858.
When he has batted with runners in scoring position, Mancini is batting .423 (11-for-26) with four homers, 18 RBIs and an OPS of 1.375.
Award winners: The Orioles announced Friday that Single-A Frederick shortstop Ryan Mountcastle is their minor league Player of the Month for May. Double-A Bowie left-hander Tanner Scott is the minor league Pitcher of the Month for May.
In 26 games in the month, the 20-year-old Mountcastle hit .336/.357/.626 with 11 doubles, a triple, six homers, 19 RBIs and an OPS of .983.
In six games during May, the 22-year-old Scott pitched to an ERA of 1.50. Over 18 innings, he gave up seven hits and three runs with 11 walks, 26 strikeouts and a .125 batting average against.
About last night: The Orioles beat the Red Sox 3-2 Friday to take the first two games in this series. Boston had lost just two of its last 10 games to start this series. Seth Smith and Manny Machado hit first-inning homers, with Machado blasting a 465-foot shot that reached the second deck at Oriole Park.
The Orioles improved to 29-24 and moved ahead of the Red Sox into second place, 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. They are 4-1 on this homestand and 19-8 at home for the year. The Orioles have the best record among American League East teams in division games at 21-11, including a 14-5 mark at home.
Right-hander Alec Asher pitched a strong game, allowing two runs over 6 1/3 innings. He showed poise and command against a strong lineup, and is 2-3 with an ERA of 3.62. When he was taken out of the game in the seventh, he left to a standing ovation.
Asher got a standing O after strong 6.1 IP tonight. pic.twitter.com/Z6pg1KWEWI-- Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) June 3, 2017