The home stretch of a season where there are just 14 games remaining to determine the result of a playoff chase doesn’t seem like the ideal time to add a rookie to the big leagues, but the Orioles are giving first baseman Trey Mancini a taste of the show as the season comes towards a close.
The why for this particular move is a bit of a mystery, and maybe weighs less than, “Why not?” The move costs the Orioles little more than a couple of weeks of game checks and meal money.
They would have to add Mancini to the 40-man roster after the season anyway to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so there’s no harm in adding him a couple of weeks early. Maybe they’ll even find an opportunity to use him in some specific role, since he will be replacing Steve Pearce on the roster.
Pearce heads to the 60-day disabled list with a right flexor mass strain. Disappointment on that topic is another post for another day.
Mancini, 24, was an eighth round pick in the 2013 draft. You’ve done pretty well for yourself as an eighth round pick to get even one day wearing your own big league uniform. Mancini spent most of the 2016 season in Norfolk, where he batted .280/.349/.427 over 125 games.
That’s not exactly a batting line that screams, “This guy could come up and do great in the big leagues.” But it does make him worth a shot, especially considering Norfolk has a bit of a reputation for being a pitcher’s park - though no one has ever told Norfolk’s pitchers.
Mancini had an .828 OPS on the road compared to a .722 OPS at home. The possibility exists that his bat will play better in Baltimore than it did at Triple-A. Mancini’s season numbers were also dragged down a good bit by a wicked August grind (30 games, .215/.278/.305 batting line) that one would hope isn’t reflective of his true talent.
Most likely, this move won’t matter much for the 2016 season. He could start a game or two against a lefty or something, or get a pinch hit appearance here and there, but that’s about it. First base is pretty well set with Chris Davis no matter who’s pitching. Designated hitter ought to be Mark Trumbo against a lefty.
Mancini will be wearing number 67. Good luck to him.