Lakeland's Manning sparkles in FSL debut

Tigers No. 2 prospect allows one hit, whiffs nine in five frames

Matt Manning has racked up 85 strikeouts in 12 starts between the Midwest and Florida State Leagues this season. (Justin Edwards/MiLB.com)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | July 4, 2018 11:27 PM

Matt Manning has made plenty of positive strides in his first full year of professional ball, and that earned him a midseason promotion. Keeping a calm and cool approach in his debut at the new level, he did not disappoint.

The second-ranked Tigers prospect allowed just one hit and two walks with nine strikeouts over five innings to lead Class A Advanced Lakeland to a 6-0 blanking of Jupiter at Joker Marchant Stadium.


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"I was pretty relaxed," Manning said. "I think I had my fastball command and I could break it out and throw when I wanted to. I threw my curveball in for strikes and it helped me get them off my fastball. I kind of put away hitters. I've gotta give a lot of credit to Kade Scivicque for calling a great game." 

With Scivicque's assistance, Manning kept the Jupiter hitters guessing throughout the start. Considering it was his first time he stepped foot on the rubber on the circuit, the 6-foot-6, 190-pound hurler welcomed the extra help. 

"For my first time being at the highest level of [A-ball], I think it went really well and I felt really comfortable throwing with Kade," Manning said. "I think we were in sync. He took care of me and made it easy for me."

Manning started the year with Class A West Michigan, where he amassed a 3-3 record, a 3.40 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP across 11 starts. His 76 strikeouts over 55 2/3 innings ranked him 11th in the Midwest League. Over his last three starts, Manning has allowed just one earned run and whiffed 23 in 19 frames.

MLB.com's No. 47 overall prospect got right down to business in his first Florida State League start, throwing 64 of 92 pitches for strikes against 18 batters. Manning, who didn't put more than one runner on base in any inning, recorded at least one strikeout in each frame. 

Anfernee Seymour led off the first inning with a walk, but the right-hander reared back and struck out the side. Aaron Knapp walked with one down in the second, but Manning then induced a flyout from B.J. Lopez before Knapp was caught stealing second by catcher Scivicque to end the frame.

Manning said getting through the first inning set the tone and helped pave the way for the successful outing. 

"I thought it was huge. After that first inning I really thought, 'Yeah, I can definitely play here, my stuff plays here,'" he said. "I had a lot of confidence after that first inning after striking out the side, even after the walk. After that I thought I could get deeper in the game."

After four hitless innings, Jupiter broke through in the fifth when Knapp beat out an infield single. Manning then got Lopez to pop out to second and Zach Sullivan to whiff on three pitches. With Luis Pintor up, Knapp reached second when the 2016 first-round pick uncorked a wild pitch. But Manning fanned Pintor after a seven pitch at-bat to put an exclamation point on his night. 

The Lakeland starter made it a point to keep things simple in the outing, trying not to overthrow in his first impression on the circuit. While Manning admitted his pitch total was higher than he wanted it to be, he felt things went smoothly. Getting that last out in the fifth solidified a memorable night.

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"I just didn't want to try to overdo anything," he said. "I just wanted to come out and pitch the way I've been pitching over the last couple of outings. I wanted to throw as many strikes as I could and get off the field as quickly as possible. ... Even if I went 4 2/3, I thought it would have been not as good or it wouldn't have been a great outing. But just getting through the fifth, I of course wanted to go six or seven. My pitch count got a little high, but I'm glad I got to the fifth and got through it and put my team in a good place to win."

The outing marked the California native's sixth start this season and the eighth of his career in which he recorded at least eight strikeouts.

To back up Manning, eighth-ranked Tigers prospect Isaac Paredes collected his eighth homer while Herlis Rodriguez scored twice.

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

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