The Tigers’ top-rated prospect, pitcher Matt Manning, made an appearance on the back fields of Joker Marchant Stadium today. The 6’6 19-year-old prospect has been at the center of many discussions about up-and-coming Tigers talent. He was taken in the first round of the 2016 amateur draft, the ninth overall pick.
While no one was surprised by the Tigers’ decision to draft a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, the praise for Manning since his signing has been almost unanimously positive. ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Matt the number one overall prospect in the Tigers’ system, and number 82 overall in his top 100.
When describing Manning, Law used the phrase “hyper-athletic” and gave a nod to his effortless-looking fastball, which can reach speeds of 98 miles per hour. Manning has the natural stuff to be a future ace, especially if he is able to improve the command on his secondary pitches.
Up until now, Manning has been a mostly on-paper guy for Tigers fans, but his appearance in Lakeland means folks can finally get a look at the team’s top prospect.
#Tigers 2016 1st Rounder Matt Manning on the back-fields this morning. A scout called him one of the best he's seen in last 5 years. @MiLB pic.twitter.com/URgbmh9e5r— Dan Hasty (@ThatDanHasty) March 17, 2017
While it’s not in-game action, it’s nice to see Manning’s smooth delivery and natural presence on the plate. The takeaway watching Manning throw is his consistent rhythm and outstanding balance for a pitching prospect of his height and youth. You can also see the big stride and huge extension that only adds to his velocity and gets scouts salivating at his potential to develop an excellent changeup. Plus there’s just something incredibly soothing about watching a gifted pitcher throw strikes as if it’s easier than breathing.
Manning has a long way to go before seeing big league play, but outings like this should only help build excitement for what he might deliver in the future.