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What will Jake Mangum do for an Encore?

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Jake Mangum had one of the most impressive freshmen seasons in recent memory, so how will he follow it up?

Kelly Price/@HailStatePics

The Mississippi State Bulldog Baseball team has had its fair share of iconic players come through the program. Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jeff Brantley just to name a few. What Jake Mangum did in his freshman season as a Bulldog sits right there with them.

Mangum was the obvious choice for SEC Freshman of the Year. He won the SEC batting title with a .408 batting average, and had 22 multi hit games. Even more impressive, he was BETTER in SEC play than he was against non SEC opponents. He hit .437 against SEC pitching in 2016.

The awards for Mangum piled up after his freshman season. I already mentioned he was named SEC Freshman of the Year, and he won the Conerly Trophy given to the best baseball player in the state of Mississippi. He was named to multiple second or third team All-American lists and was a Freshman All-American.

If Jake Mangum is going to take a step back, it will be a surprise to most people. Baseball America and Perfect Game named Mangum to their Second Team Preseason All-American Teams. D1Baseball.com has Mangum listed on their First Team Preseason All-American Team.

My advice to Mississippi State fans would be to enjoy Jake Mangum while they can. This is likely to be his last season roaming the outfield for the Bulldogs. He is a true sophomore, and MLB Draft rules state a player must be three years removed from high school to be drafted out of college. There is a catch though. If players turn 21 before the MLB Draft in June, they can be drafted. Mangum turns 21 this March.

Perfect Game has Mangum listed as their 19th best Pro Prospect in the SEC for the 2017 MLB Draft and D1 Baseball has him listed as the 15th best Pro Prospect in the SEC for the 2017 Draft. He’s going to look to impress scouts so he can start his pro career as early as possible.

Will Mangum hit .408 and win the SEC batting title again? Probably not, but he should still be just as impressive even if he isn’t hitting over .400. For Mangum to maximize his Draft value, he’ll need to show more discipline at the plate and demonstrate he can be a true top of the order hitter in the Major Leagues. He only walked 14 times, and is what most people will describe as a free swinger, despite the fact he only struck out 20 times in 2016.

The wrinkle being added to Mangum’s career in 2017 is he will take the mound some for the Bulldogs. Jake Mangum was recruited as both a pitcher and outfielder, and Andy Cannizaro plans to put him on the mound some this season. How they plan to use him is still somewhat unclear, but expect to see him take the ball some for the Bulldogs.

No one expects him to put up a batting average over .400 again. Those types of seasons just don’t happen very often. But most of us didn’t expect much from Jake Mangum this time a year ago, so if you think he can’t do something, he’s going to do everything in his power to prove you wrong.