By the second week of their arrival to Brooklyn, the popular “Delta Duo” quickly became two of the most followed players on social media. As collegiate opponents for the last four years and now Brooklyn teammates, Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum and LSU’s Antoine Duplantis find themselves starring in the Cyclones’ outfield after being drafted by the Mets in this season’s 2019 MLB Draft.
As the Mets’ fourth round draft pick, the switch-hitting Mangum finished his MSU career as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leading hitter with 383 hits along with a .356 batting average. Duplantis was the Mets’ 12th round draft pick and was LSU’s leading hitter with a total of 359 career collegiate hits and a .333 batting average.
Contributing to the Cyclones’ first place record of 24-16, both players have anchored the Cyclones outfield as Mangum patrols MCU Park’s deep center field and Duplantis plays both left and right field.
After just three weeks in Brooklyn, Mangum has provided fans with “highlight reel” catches in deep center field, while Duplantis has robbed opponents of extra base hits at the corners.
For both players, one of the biggest adjustments to playing professional baseball comes in the form of using their everyday tool — the wooden bat. After playing with an aluminum bat in college, “A wooden bat takes some time to get used to,” said Duplantis.
“There’s less margin for error when you swing a wooden bat,” explained the Lafayette, Louisiana native. “You’ve got less contact area on a wooden bat. The aluminum bat is lighter to swing, plus most balls will go a good distance off any part of that bat.”
Continuing to acclimate to a new ballpark in Coney Island, Mangum stated, “You’ve got a very tough ‘sun field’ in center field just over the press box when the sun sets. Also when you’re at the plate, you’ve got to focus on the pitch and block out the noise and the glare from the roller coaster, and even the glare off the ‘batter’s eye’ in center field.”
When it comes down to one of their biggest adjustments, both players agreed that they really miss “Food, Family and Friends.” Coming from the suburban southern settings of Lafayette, Louisiana and Pearl, Mississippi, both players miss their regional southern dishes and the family aspect that’s found in SEC baseball along with the large groups of friends that have supported them during their collegiate careers.
Looking to establish that same “SEC family feeling” with some of his new teammates, Mangum set up a trip to sample some New York City cuisine. “In fact, a bunch of us are taking the subway to Manhattan tonight,” said Mangum. “We’re going to visit Little Italy and maybe even Chinatown too.”