Former Wolverine on the path to the MLB

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Taylor Mangum made his first professional start on Aug. 26, lasting six innings and limiting the opposition to three runs. Mangum’s latest accomplishment signifies the progress he has made toward the dream of playing in the big leagues.

“My goal this next season is to come back in good enough shape and have good enough stuff that I’ll raise a few eyebrows and start in Double-A,” Mangum said. “Most likely I’ll be starting back in Brevard, Fla. but my goal is to be in Double-A this next year, either half way through or from the beginning, and within the next two years make it to Nashville, Tenn. which is where the Triple-A affiliate is. My goal is within the next three years to make it to Milwaukee.”

Pitching in the heat of a muggy Florida summer, Mangum anxiously took the mound for the Brevard County Manatees. His excitement was hard to contain, but the first inning did not go as he hoped.

“It’s just something you have to battle through,” said Mangum. “I was definitely a little frustrated in the first inning – there were a few calls that I felt I should’ve got – just balls and strikes, but you can’t rely on an umpire to determine the outcome of a game. I just left a few pitches up in the zone and I paid for it.”

Mangum walked the first batter he faced, allowed a single to the following hitter, and then gave up a three-run home run. The rocky start did not discourage the former UVU star, as he settled down and allowed only four additional hits over his six innings of work. Mangum was charged with the loss, but impressed by keeping his composure following the tough opening frame.

“I was able to settle in the next few innings and the rest of the game,” said Mangum. “For the most part I was down in the zone and actually got four double play balls, which was the most I’ve ever had in a game, so I was pretty fortunate.”

Since the Milwaukee Brewers signed him after his sophomore season in 2012, which was his only season at UVU, Mangum has rapidly climbed the minor league ladder that leads to the MLB. Beginning his career in the Arizona League, Mangum pitched five games in relief, posting a 0.79 ERA. His performance resulted in a promotion to the Advanced Rookie League, where he finished the 2012 campaign with the Helena Brewers.

“They don’t post the rosters of where you’ll be the next season until about three weeks into spring training,” said Mangum. “I came back hoping to make a full season roster with Wisconsin. They posted it just before when spring training would end and my name wasn’t on the roster. So I didn’t even make a full season roster and was planning on staying in Arizona for extended [season].  The day before everybody was to depart to go to their full season destinations they told me that I was going to be playing in Wisconsin. I was really excited. I started the season there, which was my goal. I played over three quarters of the season in Wisconsin and toward the end of the season got moved up to Brevard in Florida.”

During his time in Wisconsin he appeared in 20 games, pitching in relief. Over that span Mangum picked up five saves while posting a 3.35 ERA, consequently earning his third promotion in little over a year, which landed him in Brevard County.

Mangum’s journey forced him to assimilate to various climates, moving from Arizona to Montana in 2012 before returning to the desert for spring training. After he started the season in Wisconsin he was called up to High-A Brevard in Florida.

“It was definitely an adjustment getting down to Florida,” said Mangum. “When I got there my first few outings didn’t go well at all. We were in Charlotte playing the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate. I don’t know hot and humid it was but I was sweating more than I ever had in my life. The sweat was dripping down my hands – I was trying to keep my hands dry and get a better grip on the ball but I did not do well there at all. I couldn’t control my fastball – it was up in the zone and they hit me pretty well. I ended up only getting two outs and giving up three runs in that inning and they pulled me. After those first two outings I was able to settle in and throw a lot better throughout the rest of the season.”

Mangum credits UVU associate head coach Dave Carter with much of his development, beginning in 2008, when Mangum played as a freshman for then-head coach Carter at College of Southern Idaho.

“I loved playing at Utah Valley, especially with the coaches I had – Eric Madsen and Dave Carter,” said Mangum. “I feel like one of the biggest reasons I was drafted is that Dave was helping me with my off-speed pitches. I was able to develop a slider with him and I think that’s what caught the attention of a few scouts that had been looking at me during the time. He really helped me improve and understand the game.”

Mangum plans to spend time on campus with the current UVU baseball team during the off-season in order to simulate the complete length of an MLB season, rather than the 142-game minor league schedule he recently completed. The Wolverines will benefit from the opportunity to face a pitcher with professional experience.