The easy answer is he is 2017’s Trevor Story. That’s because after his two home run game against the Blue Jays on Sunday, he tied the record for most home runs to start a career through 12 games. The record was set in 1949 by Dino Restelli, then tied in 2016 by Story and now Mancini. Mancini has accomplished the feat a little different than the other two because his first 12 games have been split between this year and last year. It still counts but it’s a touch less impressive. Irregardless the man is still mashing, but who is he really?
Mancini was drafted in the eighth round of the 2013 entry draft out of the University of Notre Dame. The other notable player that was drafted in the round was Kendall Graveman. Mancini and Graveman have been the only players from that round to make their MLB debuts.
Coming into this season Mancini was listed by MLB Prospect Pipeline as being the fifth best prospect in the Orioles system. He was assessed a 50 future value with his best tool being his power at 55 future value. He is ranked fifth but as the Orioles have a sub par farm system that cannot be assigned much worth. If he was on a team with a great minors system such as the Yankees, he would likely be ranked somewhere between 10-15. He was not ranked in the top 100 prospects.
Most scouts agree that although his best tool is his power and he still has raw power that can develop, he has below average power for a first baseman. The consensus is that he will likely max out at 20 home runs if he gets a full season of work. It looks like Mancini disagrees with their assessment and is doing his best to change their opinions. He has average bat speed and has a knack for making hard contact. His biggest issue is one that he shares with many of his Minor League peers; he strikes out too much. At Triple-A Norfolk, he strike out at a rate of 25.5 percent. At a minor league level that is a little too much but it is not enough to be overly concerning.
In the field he is not exceptional, he is not very athletic and he has below average speed and range. You can expect that he will offer the same level of defense as Chris Davis. Not great but passable to the point where he won’t be a major drain on the defense.
Here’s what Mancini did in the rest of his time at Triple-A Norfolk;
483 AB, .280/.349/.775, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 2 SB
His 13 home runs in just under a full season is not indicative of a player that would be breaking records to start his career but here we are. Another thing to note is his on-base percentage. It was an excellent .349 and it was the number that ultimately led to his promotion to the Major Leagues. He takes walks and has a pretty good contact tool as well. If pitchers try to pitch around his power this year he will be just as happy to jog to first base.
I like drawing comparisons to current players and since he tied a record held by a current player, it’s fitting that the comparison is drawn between him and Trevor Story.
The first thing we notice is that Story has not followed up his historic April 2016 and Mancini is outdoing his .114 average rather handily. But anyway, here’s what Story did in Triple-A Albuquerque;
256 AB, .277/.324/.828, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB
Very similar numbers but Story was able to do it in roughly half the at-bats. When his line is extrapolated to be in 483 at-bats, his new line would be;
483 AB, .277/.324/.828, 19 HR, 77 RBI, 2 SB
So Story has a significant amount more power and he was more successful with men on base but the line is still fairly similar. This also paints a vivid picture of what Mancini’s power output will be; if Story has roughly 25 home run power then scouts were pretty accurate in saying that Mancini will likely hover around 20 homers per season.
One thing that will limit Mancini is his playing time. He won’t be stealing at-bats from Chris Davis anytime in the next two years and will only get chances when Davis is DH’ing or when the Orioles can squeeze Mancini in at DH. The peak of his playing time will likely come in 2019.
Rest easy MLB, Trey Mancini is not another beast from the A.L. East.