Whitecaps' Manning finds smooth sailing

No. 2 Tigers prospect ties career high with six scoreless frames

West Michigan's Matt Manning is averaging 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings through his first four starts. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | May 9, 2018 10:06 PM

The surest sign of progress is learning from mistakes made and improving upon them. If Wednesday's start was any indication, Matt Manning appears to be a quick study.

The second-ranked Detroit prospect allowed four hits and struck out eight over six scoreless innings and Class A West Michigan withstood a late rally to defeat Clinton, 8-5, at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Video: West Michigan's Manning notches the backwards K

Manning (1-1) walked one and surrendered three hits after the opening frame en route to matching the longest outing of his career. The 20-year-old completed six frames last year -- with Class A Short Season Connecticut on July 6 and West Michigan on Aug. 26.

MLB.com's No. 53 overall prospect opened the game by allowing a single to Mariners No. 23 prospect Joseph Rosa, who was immediately erased on a double-play grounder off the bat of Dimas Ojeda. Armed with a 4-0 lead after two innings, Manning had little trouble. He issued a walk to Ojeda in the fourth and a single to Ryan Costello in the fifth. Louis Boyd and Ojeda sandwiched singles around a double play in the sixth before Manning completed his outing by getting Ariel Sandoval to fly out to center.

Gameday box score

The right-hander threw 50 of his 80 pitches for strikes, which represented the second-highest total he's thrown in four starts this season. The Elk Grove, California native began the year on the disabled list due to a strained oblique he suffered in Spring Training.

It was a bounceback performance after he lasted two innings and surrendered season highs of five runs, seven hits and four walks in a loss to Peoria last Thursday. The outing continued a pattern of alternating good and bad starts by Manning, who fanned 10 but surrendered three runs in 3 2/3 innings of his season debut against Great Lakes on April 20. He followed that up by holding Lake County to one run over four hitless four frames on April 26.

Selected ninth overall in the 2016 Draft, Manning delivered a solid professional debut that year in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He began last season with Connecticut and posted a 2-2 record with a 1.89 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings before he was promoted to West Michigan on Aug. 4. Manning struggled in his first three Midwest League starts, but he hurled 11 consecutive scoreless frames while fanning 15 in his last two appearances of 2017 and finished 2-0.

MiLB include

Ignacio Valdez and Alexis Garcia combined for four hits, including three doubles, and seven RBIs to pace the Whitecaps' offense Wednesday. 

Ojeda had two hits, including a two-run double, and Jack Larsen slugged his fifth home run for the LumberKings, who rallied from an early 8-0 deficit.

Clinton starter Oliver Jaskie (1-2) surrendered four runs on four hits and three walks over five innings. The No. 25 Mariners prospect tied his career high of eight strikeouts for the third time in six starts this season.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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