Although the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft has been in disarray so far, the Detroit Tigers went with a previously expected pick when they selected Matt Manning with the No. 9 overall pick on Thursday. Manning, a tall righthander from California, is known for his big fastball, which has gotten as high as 99 miles per hour on radar guns.
MLB Pipeline ranked Manning as the No. 11 overall prospect in the 2016 draft, giving his fastball a '65' grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. Manning's secondary stuff lags, which is common with high school pitchers, but he has a power curveball that has potential to be a major league average pitch. Manning also throws a changeup, which currently lags behind his other two offerings.
Manning has also been lauded for his athleticism on the mound. The son of former NBA player Rick Manning, Matt was a two-way star at Sheldon High School in California, and is committed to Loyola Marymount to play both baseball and basketball.
Bless You Boys' own Jacob Elkram profiled Manning earlier this month, which gave fans an early glimpse at what the Tigers' newest pitcher brings to the table.
With a three-quarters arm slot and a cross-body pitching delivery, Manning has a deceptive motion that is paired with a leg kick that does nothing to hurt that cause. Also, his easy delivery has a natural fluidness that should allow him start long-term. He has played extremely well so far this summer, pitching to the tune of a 1.91 ERA. He has struck out 77 batters through just 40 1/3 innings.
The No. 9 overall pick was the Tigers' highest since 2009, when they selected righthander Jacob Turner out of Westminster Charles High School in St. Louis, Missouri. Turner made six starts for the Tigers before being traded to the Miami Marlins in 2012 in exchange for Anibal Sanchez.
The Tigers have found a fair amount of value with their first round picks in recent seasons. Righthanders Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello are obvious success stories, while Andrew Miller and the newly-reacquired Cameron Maybin have also had productive careers. The Tigers drafted Nick Castellanos in the compensation round of the 2010 draft as well.
The Tigers were rumored to have been very interested in righthander Riley Pint, a high school arm from Kansas who reportedly hit as high as 102 miles per hour on the radar gun. Pint went No. 4 overall to the Colorado Rockies in a first round that has been as surprising as any in recent memory. Presumed No. 1 overall pick A.J. Puk fell all the way to the Oakland Athletics at sixth overall, while MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect, lefthander Jason Groome, is seeing his draft status fall like a rock after signability concerns emerged recently.
The ninth overall pick represents the Tigers' only pick of the first evening of the draft. They forfeited their second round pick when they signed righthander Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million contract during the offseason. They also do not have a third round pick, lost when they signed Justin Upton to a six-year deal in January. The Tigers' next pick is in the fourth round, 115th overall.