Manning was the ninth overall pick in 2016, a two-sport star from the Northern California prep ranks. His father was a 6-foot-11 forward in the NBA, and that athleticism translates to his game on the mound. He’s coming off a big 2018 season, rocketing to Double-A as a 20-year-old and firmly establishing himself as one of baseball’s better pitching prospects. The #33 prospect on our recent Top 125, Manning was sharp in his first start of 2019. Back with Double-A Erie to begin the year, the righty struck out five in as many innings pitched, allowing one earned run on one hit and issuing three walks.
Manning controls his extra-large frame well for a pitcher his age, though there’s still some rigidity to his delivery that causes the in-zone command to be a work in progress. He won’t ever have to be pinpoint, however, as his velocity and natural extension make his fastball very effective up in the zone. The heater sat in the mid-90s and touched 95 mph this look; he touched 96-97 at best last year, and it’s reasonable to assume that’s in the tank as the weather warms up. The pitch has excellent late ride, exploding in the upper-third of the zone and beating barrels to elevated spots. Manning’s best off-speed is a hard curveball, a 77-to-80 mph downer with sharp 12-to-6 tilt. It was a bit hot and cold this outing, flashing the hammer enough times that it’s easy to project as a future plus. His changeup is less advanced than the fastball or curve, but it’s a developing third speed he worked in to lefties in the mid-80s.
There’s room to work on bettering his changeup and overall control/command, but Manning’s raw tools give the upside of a frontline starter. His size, velocity, and two plus pitches could fit a #2/#3 profile with continued development, though there’s no reason for a rebuilding Tigers team to rush him at this point.