Detroit Tigers Prospect Report: Matt Manning

The Detroit Tigers are in rebuilding mode. “Future Friday” is a segment where we examine the bevy of prospects in Detroit and their future impact in the Motor City.

The Detroit Tigers sold off a lot of veteran talent over the past year in exchange for prospects.

While it can be hard for fans to see All-Stars like J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Alex Avila dealt, (not to mention franchise icon Justin Verlander), the return can be an exciting batch of prospects who will become the next stars in Detroit.

‘Future Fridays,’ is a new weekly column where we pick a prospect, old or new, and delve into their expected impact on the team. We want to help Tiger fans identify the upcoming wave of prospects as they move into rebuilding mode.

Today’s Future Friday article is not about a freshly acquired prospect, but rather a high draft pick who is on a handful of Top-100 prospect lists. That would be right-hander Matt Manning.

A former two-sport star

Matt Manning, understandably, is a frequent topic of discussion among Tiger fans. The Tigers selected him ninth overall in the 2016 MLB draft. A two-sport star in high school (basketball and baseball) Manning was all set to follow in his father’s footsteps and attend Loyola Marymount University on a basketball scholarship. That is until the Tigers offered him a tad over $3.5 million dollars to sign with them.

It’s easy to look at Manning and immediately see why scouts love him. He’s 6’6 and can get his fastball up in the 97 mile per hour range with apparent ease. He also sports a ‘power curveball’ that helps him generate a ton of swings and misses. Indeed his strikeout numbers have been staggering in his brief time in the minor leagues.

He racked up 46 strikeouts in 29.1 innings at rookie ball in 2016, good for a 14.1 K/9. He then split 2017 between short season A-ball and Single-A, striking out 62 in 51 innings. All told, Manning has a 108/32 K/BB ratio in 80.1 professional innings.

Manning’s strikeout numbers are already elite, yet many scouts believe his breakout is still to come.

Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has this to say about Manning:

This right-hander could see his value skyrocket in 2018 if he stays healthy. Selected ninth overall in 2016, Manning — who’s just 19 — has been moved along slowly. He has a perfect pitcher’s body and stands 6-6. He has a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a curve that should be a consistently-plus offering in time. Toss in above-average makeup and athleticism, and you have the type of player that can develop into a star.

Manning’s potential is being recognized across baseball circles, as he was recently listed on two Top-100 prospect lists. MLB Pipeline has Manning listed as their 55th best prospect, along with fellow Tiger farmhands Franklin Perez (39) and Alex Faedo (59). Manning also checks in at number 78 on Baseball America’s list, again alongside Perez (35) and Faedo (50).

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Manning joins a bevy of highly regarded right-handed pitching prospects in Detroit’s farm system. Manning, Perez and Faedo join Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser as arms who will someday take the mound for the Tigers every fifth day.

Rebuilding has its challenges, but the Tigers have a lot of young, exciting players to look forward to in 2019 and beyond.

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