Just over a week after saying goodbye to one of their top hurlers, Class A Advanced Lakeland is getting a top-notch replacement in Matt Manning.
The second-ranked Tigers prospect was promoted to the Florida State League on Wednesday night, one day after allowing one run over seven innings in his final start for West Michigan. Detroit's No. 17 prospect Jose Azocar, who spent the first six weeks of the season with the Flying Tigers, returns to the circuit with Manning.
Video: West Michigan's Manning fans eighth batter
Manning began the year on the disabled list with a strained oblique and struggled to an 8.38 ERA in his first three starts with the Whitecaps. But the right-hander tossed six scoreless innings against Clinton in his fourth start on May 9, beginning a stretch in which he hasn't surrendered more than one run in five of his eight outings, including Tuesday's win over South Bend.
MLB.com's No. 49 overall prospect tossed consecutive seven-inning gems to close out his stay in the Midwest League and finished with a 2.34 ERA over his last eight starts. Overall, the 20-year-old went 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA and held opposing batters to a .229 average while striking out 76 in 55 2/3 innings for West Michigan.
Selected ninth overall in the 2016 Draft, Manning began 2017 with Class A Short Season Connecticut, where he posted a 2-2 record and a 1.89 ERA over nine starts. He was promoted to West Michigan on Aug. 4 and went 2-0 with a 5.60 ERA in five outings to finish with a 3.18 mark in 14 combined starts.
Azocar struggled in his initial stint with Lakeland and was assigned to the Midwest League on May 25. The 22-year-old turned his season around with the Whitecaps, batting .317/.355/.490 with 19 runs and 16 RBIs in 27 games. Overall, he's hitting .266/.294/.372 in 57 games across the two levels.