Manning dominant in Connecticut debut

Tigers top prospect fans nine over 4 1/3 scoreless innings

Matt Manning averaged 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season in the Gulf Coast League. (Kevin Pataky/

By Michael Peng / | June 21, 2017 12:24 AM ET

Rain pushed back Matt Manning's season debut for a day, but there was no stopping the 19-year-old once he took the hill.

The Tigers' top prospect struck out nine over 4 1/3 innings -- both career highs -- in Class A Short Season Connecticut's 9-0 blanking of Tri-City on Tuesday at Dodd Stadium. He allowed three hits and a walk.

Gameday box score

"It was a really good game to get the season going," Manning said. "I was really excited to get out there after the rain delay yesterday and I think it went pretty well."

The ninth overall pick in the 2016 Draft was in control from the outset as he struck out the side in the opening frame.

"After the first pitch, I can kind of know if the day is going to be good or bad," Manning said. "I felt pretty good going through the first two batters, so I just rolled with it."

The California native struck out three more in the second while working around a two-out double by Kristian Trompiz before throwing 13 pitches in a 1-2-3 third.

After getting Connor MacDonald to line to third to begin the fifth, Manning gave up a single to Trompiz and walked Frankeny Fernandez before being relieved by Victor Mueses. He finished his outing on 73 pitches, 53 for strikes.

"I think with time, my arm would be able to catch up to these innings,"'s No. 63 overall prospect said. "I haven't thrown that much yet, but I think I can get better with the longevity. I think that's just going to come with time."

In preparation for his first short season stint, Manning -- who features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s to go with an above-average curveball and complementary changeup -- said he's working on "maturing as a pitcher."

MiLB include

"I'm working on keeping the ball in the zone and hitting my spots instead of trying to throw a fastball as hard as I can," said Manning, who posted a 3.99 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 29 1/3 innings last season in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. "I'm not worried about my velocity as long as I'm hitting my spots."

After Mueses finished the fifth, Daniel Gonzalez (1-0), Clate Schmidt and Brandyn Sittinger combined for four hitless innings to complete the shutout.

Hector Martinez and Randel Alcantara hit solo homers and Sam Machonis drove in three runs for the Tigers.

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

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