Jake Mangum is the grandson of John Mangum, a defensive tackle for the Boston Patriots from 1966-1967, the son of John Mangum Jr., a defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1990-1998, and nephew of Kris Mangum, a tight end for the Carolina Panthers from 1997-2006. Jake inherited their athletic genes, but he did not follow in the family business, instead choosing the baseball diamond over the gridiron. A standout who lettered all four years he attended Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, Mississippi, Mangum earned All-State and All-American honors multiple times and was recruited by multiple elite colleges and universities, eventually choosing to attend Mississippi State University after graduating in 2015.
To say that Mangum’s collegiate career was storied is putting it lightly. Over the course of his four years there, Mangum hit a combined .356/.418/.456 in 259 games, breaking Eddy Furniss’ SEC NCAA career hits record. He was drafted three times in total, in the 30th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Yankees as a draft-eligible sophomore, in the 32nd round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Mets as a junior, and then in the 4th round of the 2019 MLB Draft once again by the Mets in his senior year. After signing with the Mets in 2019, agreeing to a $20,000 bonus to a slot value of $487,900 he was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones and hit .247/.337/.297 in 53 games, helping Brooklyn win their first solo championship by igniting their game-winning rally in the 8th inning of game three of the NYPL Championship Series against the Lowell Spinners.
The outfielder would have likely begun the 2020 season with the High-A St. Lucie Mets, but the COVID-19 pandemic stopped that from happening. When the 2021 season finally arrived, he was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones once again, though now they were the Mets’ High-A affiliate. He was quickly promoted to Double-A after just 9 games and spent the rest of the season with the Rumble Ponies, hitting .294/.342/.459 with 7 home runs, 14 stolen bases in 20 attempts, and a 16:58 walk:strikeout ratio in 75 games. He started his Double-A career hot, cooled off and slogged though June and July before getting unbelievably hot in the dog days of summer thanks to a change in his approach, hitting .400/.456/.582 from the end of July until the conclusion of the season.
A switch hitter, Mangum stands extremely open and spread at the plate, holding his hands high. At MSU, and with the Brooklyn Cyclones, he used a contact-oriented approach to slash the ball all around the field, effective at a college level but somewhat hamstringing as a professional. In 2021, he radically altered his approach, and the changes coincided with his spike in production. In 2019, he pulled the ball at a 30.8% rate, went back up the middle at a 23.3% rate, and went to the opposite field at a 45.9%; in 2021, he pulled the ball at a 45.2% rate, went back up the middle at a 22.6% rate, and went to the opposite field at a 32.3% rate. By pulling the ball more, he hit the ball in the air more, resulting in a spike in his ISO; in 2019, he had a 23.3% line drive rate, 52.7% ground ball rate and a 24.0% fly ball rate, as opposed to his 16.9% line drive rate, 48.8% ground ball rate, and 34.3% fly ball rate in 2021.
In the outfield, Mangum makes use of his speed. An above-average base stealer and runner on the base paths, he is a plus defender in the outfield. With good reads off of the bat, efficient routes, exceptional range to both sides, and afterburners to close in on the ball when necessary, Mangum profiles best in center field. His only defensive weakness is his arm; while it is accurate, it lacks the strength to regularly play right.
In addition to his physical gifts, Mangum has intangibles off the chart.