Age: 21 yr, Weight: 215 lbs, Height: 6-6
School: Sheldon (CA) HS
MLB Draft: Round 1, Overall: 9
Current Level: AA, ETA: 2020
Tall athletic righthander with a deadly fastball + curveball combination and a track record of production.
Health. It’s that simple. Why Manning over Mize? Ultimately it boils down to Manning’s ability to take the mound. Over the last two seasons his 46 starts and 251 innings speak for themselves. That being said, Manning’s allure is more than just staying healthy, so let’s dig into why.
How is he that athletic? Every time I watch a Matt Manning start I’m captivated by how easy his delivery is, particularly for a player of his height. Even when he reaches back for a few extra ticks on the fastball, he does a remarkably good job of staying in line.
His arm action is a high three quarters almost over the top, playing up his fastball high in the zone, where it’s most effective. His curveball plays off of the fastball, but it’s consistently a plus pitch in it’s own right. He’ll use the pitch as a putaway pitch, getting chases on it or landing it on the corners. I’d actually like to see him use the pitch more simply because his feel is impressive. His changeup is very much a third pitch at this point, though it will show flashes of nasty armside run. He’ll typically show it when ahead against left-handers, but it’s used a handful or so times a start.
He tends to be incredibly fastball heavy, which worked in a weak hitting Eastern League. Whether or not Manning makes the jump from mid-rotation starter to number two, or better, will depend on how well he controls his curveball-fastball combo, and the progression of his third pitch. He showed major progression in the control department in 2019 as he cut his walk rate from 10.5 percent in 2018 to 7.2 percent in 2019. Continued progress in this area and perhaps increased usage of his curveball could push Manning to the majors in late 2020.