In his second full season, and following the second promotion of his career, Bowie first baseman Trey Mancini is enjoying the best ball of his career.
Believing in the mentality that he must simply concentrate on where he is, not where he may go next, the Orioles' No. 12 prospect is certainly living in the moment, blasting Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .363 batting average in 57 games.
"I just have to take every day as it comes and not think about anything in the future, like where I might be or where I could be one day," said Mancini, an eighth-round pick in 2013 out of Notre Dame. "I just think about where I am right now, just performing to the best of my abilities in that game. If you do that, at the end of the season you can look back and usually everything just kind of takes care of itself."
While that approach has remained the same for his two-plus years of pro ball, a change in the box during Spring Training may have sparked a new level of comfort. Instead of his old spread-out, lower stance, Mancini went more upright and narrow when digging in at the plate, allowing him to work more on balancing his load and his separation. While the results weren't instantaneous -- he struggled with Class A Advanced Frederick during the first month of the season -- a boost from coaches got him back on track, and soon he was seeing better power results as well.
"It's just the way I'm standing, and [the] whole pre-pitch routine is different," Mancini said. "I found it comfortable, and I'm into feeling relaxed when I play. I like it a lot. I just think about hitting everything back up the middle. I think that's helped [with the power]."
Since arriving in Bowie at the beginning of June, Mancini has hit safely in 47 of his 57 games, adding eight home runs to his career-high 16 on the season between the Baysox and Frederick.
While being a first baseman brings an expectation of power, Mancini felt that by letting things come together with a more relaxed approach, that part of his game would work itself out, and the results are proving the point as his prior high in homers was 10 in 2014.
"It's something that kind of falls in place," said Mancini. "Everybody I've talked to who's been around the game for a while says power is the last thing that comes to guys. Sometimes it takes a while to transition from college to the professional level."
While Mancini's transition is still a work in progress as he climbs the ladder, he is enjoying the process, something he deems necessary to work through the rigors of a seemingly endless schedule.
"I feel good," said Mancini. "Pro ball is a long season. We play 142 games in a five-month span. It's a lot, and you have to enjoy it. Since I got drafted, I think I've really improved that aspect of just how I approach the game mentally."
Seeing light: After a tough June in which he hit .205 with 23 hits, Trenton's Jake Cave has picked things up at the plate in August. Over his first eight games this month, the Yankees' No. 18 prospect is hitting .313 with 10 hits and five runs scored. Cave had been hitting .280 through June, but his July dip saw his average drop 20 points.
Wide awake to rake: Reading catcher Andrew Knapp continues to dominate at the plate. The Phillies' No. 17 prospect, called up to Double-A at the end of June, certainly impressed with 28 hits and a .378 batting average in July with the Fightin Phils. But he has gone to a new level in August, already collecting 21 hits in just eight games for an eye-popping slash line of .658/1.176/1.834.
Effective innings eater: In 21 starts for Altoona, Chad Kuhl has only once thrown less than five innings, pitching four frames in a June 12 loss to New Hampshire. Since that start, the Pirates' No. 18 prospect has gone 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in nine starts. On the season, Kuhl is fifth in the league with eight wins and sixth with a 2.80 ERA.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.