20 – year old RHP Matt Manning is learning how to use his pitches, hold the runners, and is quickly developing his potential into a major league pitcher, who could lead his parent club back to the roses..
The 6-6 youngster has all of the makings of the #1 ace on a major league pitching staff. The Detroit Tigers drafted him in Round 1 of the 2016 Draft (9th overall). Savvy baseball folks have rated him the 47th best prospect in all of minor league baseball, and second or third best of Tigers’ minor league prospects. He is the son of a NBA star, Rich Manning and could have played basketball at Loyola Marymount, but the Detroit $3.5 million offer persuaded him to forego college and pitch baseball.
In 29.1 IP at GCL Tigers in 2016, in his professional baseball debut, he struck out 46 batters, in 2017 at NY/PA Rookie A Connecticut Defenders, he struck out 30 batters in 33 IP, and in a couple starts at Low A West Michigan near the end of the season, he stuck out 26 batters in 17.2 IP.
Matt Manning Unleashes His Fast Ball
In the first half of this season, he continued pitching at the Tigers’ Midwest League affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps, where after recovering from a strained oblique and a resulting slow three games start, he pitched a stretch of games in which he allowed one run or less in 5 of his next 8 outings and consecutive 7 IP shutouts to close out his Midwest League stay with a 2.34 ERA in his last 8 starts and overall the first half of the 2018 season, a 3-3 W-L, in 11 GS, and 3.40 ERA, 28 BB, and 76 K in 55.2 IP pitched.
Tigers brass thought he was ready for a tougher test in late June and promoted him to the Fast A – Florida State League where In his first three starts with the Lakeland Flying Tigers, he’s 2-0, with a 2.70 ERA, 10 BB, 20 K in 16.2 IP.
Matt Manning is Averaging More than a K an inning
Although Manning has at each minor league level consistently doubled or better the number of his Ks to BB, his pitching coach at West Michigan Jorge Cordova believed he still had some pitching lessons to learn. “He needs to understand with the great stuff he has that he doesn’t have to pitch to swing and miss every batter. He’s got such a great fastball, he has such a great curveball, and he can get hitters off balance with the change up,” that he can get the hitters out on contact too.
In the Midwest League, he learned to hold the base runners better too. Cordova observed, “he was holding runners pretty well his last starts against Dayton and South Bend. While there weren’t many runners in those games, four and five each game respectively, “He’s learning, understanding he needs to be quick to the plate. He needs to vary his look, he needs to hold the ball as long as he can.”
Interviewed after the Dayton game, Manning said he did his homework before the game, “I studied the Dragons hitters’ tendencies in the two previous games, and thought if I pitched to contact, forced the hitters to swing, and located my fastball inside to both lefties and righties, I’d be successful.”
The outlook for Matt Manning is bright as he is applying the lessons he has learned to his minor league pitching and is blossoming more and more each start. If he keeps getting A’s on his Florida State League report card, it won’t be long before he moves up to the AA- Erie Sea Wolves then AAA – Toledo Mud Hens and onto the pitchers’ mound at Detroit’s Commerce Park.
There the tall lanky RHP may remind some old timers of another tall right-hander who won 183 games in 13 seasons for the Tigers because Matt Manning could be just as good or better than that pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.