The 3rd Man In

A draft-eligible sophomore: Jake Mangum

Jake Mangum

Mississippi State outfielder Jake Mangum took college baseball by storm as a freshman in 2016, hitting .408 to win the Southeastern Conference batting title and All-American honors. He credits his success to his father, John Mangum, who spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1990-1998.

“My dad is everything to me,” Jake Mangum said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be playing college baseball. He’s 100 percent helped me earn everything I have in baseball. I’m grateful for that. There was a lot of days I didn’t want to hit growing up or do anything. He pushed me, made me get up and made me get to work.”

After a strong showing last summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League, expectations are high for Mangum this season. Despite being just a sophomore, Mangum will turn 21 years old in March, making him eligible for June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Baseball America ranks the draft-eligible sophomore as the 29th-best college prospect in this year’s draft. He profiles as a speedy, top-of-the-order centerfielder at the next level.

“The draft is something I can’t control,” Mangum said. “(John) Cohen, who was my coach last year and now is the athletic director, taught me to control what I can control and to not worry about anything. I’m just worried about playing baseball. The draft will take care of itself.”

Mangum is known for his above-average speed, which he displays on the bases and when roaming the outfield. A switch-hitter, Mangum makes consistent, hard contact, but has below-average power from both sides of the plate.

A preseason All-American, Mangum isn’t satisfied with his game and is focused on improving offensively this spring.

“No hitter is a (finished) product,” Mangum said. “Every hitter in the world has something to work on. Once you really take the next step is when you close up those holes. I have some minor stuff to work on and hopefully will get better at.”

In 16 games this season, Mangum is living up to expectations, hitting .414 with four RBIs and six stolen bases.

Even with his name swirling in draft chatter, especially with his strong start this spring, Mangum’s goals for this season are simple.

“Just help the team win,” he said. “Just get on base and let the bigger guys drive me in.”

Find more MLB Draft coverage here.

Read my feature article on former Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson here.

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