Do you want to see Matt Manning — one of Detroit’s top promising youngsters and a hurler to behold — in action? If your answer is “YES!” then, as the kids say these days, “I gotchu, fam.”
Manning, our No. 2 Tigers prospect for 2019, took to the hill against live competition this past weekend in a game almost no Tigers fans got to see. Fortunately, a couple of your trusted Bless You Boys staff members made it out to the Floridian fields of spring training to record and report on his performance during this nascent 2019 baseball season.
Watching from one of the backfields of TigerTown named in honor of Charlie Gehringer in a matchup against the Braves’ minor league counterparts, my esteemed colleague and resident MiLB monger Kenon Carter had this to say about the highly-touted prospect.
Overall, I thought Manning looked a little rusty. It was, however, March 2nd. He struggled with command, going deep into counts, and walking a couple against Braves minor leaguers. That said, the pure stuff was dynamite and he never got rattled. As effective as the fastball is, Manning’s curveball is the most impressive of his arsenal. When he spins it right, it’s an absolute knee-buckler. On the mound, Manning has a very stoic presence, with very little facial expression. I will say this, it did feel a little bit different when he took the mound. Up until that point, the atmosphere around the field felt very loose and fun. Once Manning took the hill, it was all business.
Mr. Carter also captured 27 of his pitches on video, which have been presented for your viewing pleasure below. See for yourself how he performed and feel free to express your opinions in the comments.
Given his overall 50 and 55 Future Value (FV) ratings from FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline, respectively, which project him to be a solid major league contributor, his performance in these early days of spring training are of intense interest to those who starve for prospect data. Even PECOTA predicts that Manning would produce 0.3 WARP as a major leaguer in 2019, which as a 21-year-old isn’t too damn shabby. Keep in mind, though, it also cautions that only 16 percent of players of his age and profile have made it to the majors. There is room for Manning to grow, but still a lot to be excited about.
It should also be noted that the highly-heralded pitcher performed as the franchise’s co-owner Chris Ilitch and general manager Al Avila watched from the scouting tower behind home plate, giving Manning’s outing a bit more pressure than your run-of-the-mill minor league back field session. Small sample sizes aside — the caveat of every spring training observation — Manning has the look and the arsenal of a pitcher that is destined for the bright lights of the big leagues. It’s the process of him making it there that will be a storyline every Tigers fan will be following in the seasons to come.