Mets’ Jake Mangum Benefits From New Approach

Outfielder Jake Mangum is thankful for baseball’s shutdown during the 2020 pandemic in the sense it gave him an opportunity to re-evaluate his approach at the plate.

The 2019 fourth-rounder from Mississippi State realized what got him to professional baseball wasn’t necessarily going to keep him there.

“I had a great college career, but it wasn’t what professional teams look for,” the 25-year-old said. “It was a very slap-the-ball, get-on-base approach, and a lot of people didn’t ever think I would ever translate into a professional hitter.

“I am thankful that in (my) 2019 short-season in Brooklyn I didn’t have the year I wanted.”

Last season, Mangum hit .285/.337/.454 with nine home runs and 14 stolen bases in 84 games combined for High-A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton. He placed more emphasis on driving the ball.

As the organization’s minor league camp began in February, director of player development Kevin Howard mentioned Mangum as one of the players, beyond the Mets’ top tier of prospects, he was most interested in watching.

The 6-foot-1, 179-pound outfielder was drafted three times out of college. He neglected to sign until completing his senior year, when he set the all-time Southeastern Conference hits record.

Mangum comes from a football family. His father John played defensive back for the Chicago Bears. An uncle Kris was a tight end for the Carolina Panthers. In addition, his grandfather John played defensive tackle for the Boston Patriots in the 1960s.

The football mentality has rubbed off on Jake Mangum, who quit playing the sport early in high school to concentrate on baseball.

“Just play every single game like it’s my last,” Mangum said. “I’m confident that anyone who has ever watched me play through a period of time would agree that if it’s a ground out to the pitcher, I am going to give you my best effort to first.”

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