That’s the one word Baltimore Orioles Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Trey Mancini would choose to describe what turned into an epic 2015 season. The 2013 eighth round pick out of Notre Dame slashed .341/.375/.563 with 21 home runs, 89 RBI, and 70 total extra base hits across High- and Double-A. Mancini won the Eastern League batting title by hitting .359 in 84 games after being promoted to Bowie. With Bowie, Mancini was also part of a championship-winning team. The 6’4″ first baseman also nearly halved his error total, down from nine in 2014 to just five in 126 total games. On his way to a .341 batting average, Mancini recorded 15 three-hit games and two four-hit games.
Being honored with an award named after Brooks Robinson meant something special to Mancini.
“Ever since I was a little kid, from a historical player standpoint, Brooks Robinson might be my favorite player. I respect his character, and see him as someone I want to model myself after. It was so cool to receive an award named after him,” Mancini said.
Over the first two seasons of Mancini’s career, he had hit only 13 home runs and slugged .421. Those numbers paled in comparison to the numbers Mancini posted at Double-A alone this year. After being called up from High-A, Mancini slugged .586 and equaled his career home run total in just 84 games. The 191 total bases he recorded nearly matched the 222 he recorded in 137 games in 2014. Working with Orioles front office executive Brady Anderson on a swing change in Spring Training helped to play a big part in the power surge Mancini experienced in 2015.
“I really do think that my new stance and swing this year really brought out my power. I always knew I had that kind of power, but I had never really displayed it in games over the course of a season. I was also much stronger mentally over the course of the season.”
Mancini enjoyed working with the three-time All-Star Anderson. Anderson has developed a reputation as being an excellent resource for the Orioles in the player development aspect, and his work with Mancini was no different. With Anderson’s guidance, Mancini worked to stand more upright at the plate, abandoning the crouched stance that had held back his power.
“Brady called me over after seeing only one at-bat in Spring Training,” Mancini explained. “He knew exactly what I needed to improve my offensive output. I went over there and bought into what he was telling me to do. It wasn’t just a quick transition. It took all of Spring Training and then the first month of the season for me to really get my timing down and feel comfortable with the new swing. Once I did, it was really comfortable.”
Looking at the splits, it was clear that April was a learning month for Mancini. He batted just .244 in the month of April as he got comfortable with the new and improved stance. With that initial trial period out of the way, Mancini would not bat below .300 in any month over the remainder of the season. He batted .362 in his first month following the promotion to Double-A.
Besides the personal accolades that came Trey Mancini’s way for his outstanding season, there was also a team championship to celebrate. The Bowie Baysox had never won a playoff series before this year, but ended up claiming the Eastern League crown in 2015.
“Our team was so close. Even though some guys left and new guys came in, everyone was committed to doing their job. It was a very team-oriented team, which you don’t always see in the minor leagues. It was just a really special team to be a part of.”
Mancini also sees the benefit to being part of a playoff team, even at the minor league level where winning sometimes takes a back seat to player development.
“You get playoff experience. The games have a different feel to them, and throughout the season, if you’re on a good team, you get experience in tight situations and close games. It’s definitely good to get that experience in the minor leagues and find ways to improve your performance in those crucial situations.”
With the 2015 season in the books, Mancini will turn his focus to getting stronger, working on his footwork, and building agility and speed. He is proud of the way he calmed himself in the field and allowed the game to come to him while always staying positive and not getting too high or too low throughout the grind of the baseball season. Failure did not erode the first base prospect’s confidence as it had in years past.
“I’m going to enjoy the offseason,” Mancini said. He will be wrapping up his political science degree at Notre Dame as well as continuing to train. “I’m looking forward to working hard in every area of the game and coming into Spring Training a better player than ever before.”