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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Twenty Three

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, September 13th to September 18th?

New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals
Jake Mangum
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jake Mangum

Week: 6 G, 21 AB, .524/.542/.762, 10 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K, 1/1 SB (Triple-A)

2022 Season: 65 G, 258 AB, .310/.372/.446, 80 H, 13 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR, 21 BB, 52 K, 14/17 K, .375 BABIP (Double-A/Triple-A)

A standout who lettered all four years he attended Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, Mississippi, Jake 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 his 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 COVID-19 prevented Mangum from suiting up in 2020, but it didn’t stop him from improving himself as a baseball player. Knowing that his biggest flaw as a player was his lack of power, Mangum bulked up and putting on weight and muscle. “In college, I knew my role. My role in college was to get on base and help our team win. In college, the number one priority is to win every single baseball game between the lines, and that’s what we did a lot in college. I get to pro ball and I realize quickly that Minor League Baseball is a lot more for development. So, when 2020 got canceled, I was like, ‘Alright, I finally have time to put on some weight that I’ve never been able to put on.’…So, before COVID hit I worked hard, but when it was like, ‘Alright, no season. Let’s keep going.’ So I was able to spend a year and a half working on my game and hitting balls harder.”

Mangum was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones once again when the 2021 season began, 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 16 walks to 58 strikeouts in 75 games. He began the 2022 season with Binghamton and picked up where he left off, hitting .283/.353/.408 in 31 games. He was promoted Syracuse in late May and got off to a hot start, hitting .333/.360/.438 in his first 11 games, but was put on the injured list in mid-June after hurting his back. At the time, it was widely believed that the injury would keep the 26-year-old outfielder out for the rest of the season, but was able to return to the field in mid-August, rejoining Syracuse at the end of the month and tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .367/.409/.533 in 11 games with 2 home runs and 5 stolen bases in 6 attempts.

A switch hitter, Mangum stands extremely open and spread at the plate, holding his hands high. At MSU, and in his first professional season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, he used a contact-oriented approach to slash the ball all around the field, an approach that was effective at a college level but somewhat hamstringing as a professional. In 2021, physically stronger, 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; in 2022 so far, he has pulled the ball at a 41.8% rate, has gone back up the middle at a 26.3% rate, and has gone to the opposite field at a 32% rate. By pulling the ball more, he is hitting the ball in the air more, resulting in a spike in his ISO, which went from .049 in 2019 to .186 in 2021 and is currently .133. 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 19% line drive rate, 48.1% ground ball rate, and 33% fly ball rate in 2021 and his 25.7% line drive rate, 44.8% ground ball rate, and 29.6% fly ball rate this season.

In the outfield, what can’t Jake Mangum do. An above-average runner, not only does he make use of his speed by swiping bases and stretching hits for extra base hits, but he is a plus defender in center field. He gets good reads off the bat, takes efficient routes, and has both exceptional range and afterburners to close in on the ball. His arm, while accurate, is not particularly strong, making Mangum best in center field or left.

A 2019 college senior draftee, Mangum is going to have to be added to the Mets’ 40-man roster this winter to protect him from being exposed in the Rule 5 Draft. I don’t know what the 40-man will look like in a few months when these decisions have to be made, but expect Mangum to be selected by another club if he is not added. His bat has come along since making changes to his approach in 2021, his center field defense is phenomenal, and he is an amazing gamer and teammate. While most teams have fourth outfielders, those teams don’t have a Jake Mangum.

Joel Diaz

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K (High-A)

Season: 19 G (7 GS), 72.2 IP, 54 H, 23 R, 20 ER (2.48 ERA), 18 BB, 84 K, .278 BABIP (Single-A/High-A)

This start was, by far, the best of Joel Diaz’s young career. Against the best the Florida State League North had to offer, Diaz threw six innings in relief, giving up three hits- two in his first inning of work- and walking one while striking out eleven, a career high eleven batters; ten of the eleven strikeouts were swinging.

Diaz mainly relied on his fastball and changeup, mixing in a few curveballs and a few sinkers. Over his six innings, he threw 34 four-seam fastballs, 31 changeups, 17 curveballs, and 9 sinkers. Compare his pitch usage to his five inning relief outing on August 21; then, he threw 25 curveballs, 23 fastballs, 21 sinkers, and 12 changeups. Compare his pitch usage to his six inning relief outing on August 3; then he threw 27 sinkers, 24 curveballs, 9 changeups, and 9 four-seam fastballs. In his outing on the 3rd, he did not allow a run, allowed one hit, walked one, and struck out six. In his outing on the 21st, he gave up three runs (two earned), allowed four hits, walked three, and struck out five.

Diaz had a 29% Called Strike+Wiff Rate with his four-seam fastball, 39% with his changeup, 29% with his curveball, and 33% with his sinker. Obviously, his pitch usage fairly different last Thursday as compared to the rest of his season, but on average, Diaz has had a 27% Called Strike+Wiff Rate with his four-seam fastball, 23% with his changeup, 34% with his curveball, and a 23% with his sinker.

Expectations arguably were high regarding Diaz, as he burst onto the scene last season and was considered a top 10 prospect by a handful of reputable scouting and evaluation organizations and outlets- Amazin’ Avenue did not consider him as such, or as a top 25 prospect in the system coming into the season- and while Diaz might not have lived up to them, he most definitely ended his season on a high note if he does not take the mound for St. Lucie in the Florida State League Championship Series.

Players of the Week 2022

Week One (April 5-April 17): Francisco Alvarez/Jose Butto
Week Two (April 19-April 24): Daniel Palka/Keyshawn Askew
Week Three (April 26-May 1): Shervyen Newton/Alec Kisena
Week Four (May 3-May 8): Alex Ramirez/David Peterson
Week Five: (May 10-May 15): Brett Baty/Jose Chacin
Week Six: (May 17-May 22): Jaylen Palmer/Mike Vasil
Week Seven (May 24th-May 29th): Francisco Alvarez/Connor Grey
Week Eight (May 31-June 5th): Khalil Lee/Jose Butto
Week Nine (June 7-June 12): Stanley Consuegra/Nick Zwack
Week Ten (June 14-June 19): Daniel Palka/Alex Valverde
Week Eleven (June 21-June 26): Travis Blankenhorn/Dominic Hamel
Week Twelve (June 28-July 3): Alex Ramirez/Luis Moreno
Week Thirteen (July 4-July 10): Gosuke Katoh/Nick Zwack
Week Fourteen (July 11-July 17): Stanley Consuegra/Carson Seymour
Week Fifteen (July 21-July 24): Alex Ramirez/Carson Seymour
Week Sixteen (July 25-July 31): Karell Paz/Luis Moreno & Keyshawn Askew
Week Seventeen (August 1-August 7): Brett Baty/Joel Diaz
Week Eighteen (August 8-August 14): Carlos Dominguez/ Douglas Orellana
Week Nineteen (August 15-August 21): Mark Vientos/Douglas Orellana
Week Twenty (August 22-August 28): Shervyen Newton/Jeffrey Colon
Week Twenty One (August 30-September 4): Omar De Los Santos/Dominic Hamel
Week Twenty Two (September 6-September 11): Jose Peroza/ Jeffrey Colon