Although it has been an unhurried climb through the Minors for Matt Manning, he has often shown he may be worth the wait.
Detroit's No. 2 prospect flashed more brilliance Tuesday afternoon for Class A West Michigan, yielding three hits and a walk while striking out nine over six frames in a 1-0 walk-off victory against Fort Wayne in the opener of a doubleheader sweep at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Video: Whitecaps' Manning fans ninth batter
MLB.com's No. 51 overall prospect improved his ERA to 4.05 and average against to .219 while matching the longest outing of his career for the fourth time.
After walking the game's first batter, Jeisson Rosario -- San Diego's No. 17 prospect -- Manning settled down to record six consecutive outs, including four punchouts in a row while fanning the side in the second. A one-out single by Robbie Podorsky in the third halted the streak, but Manning worked around the hit and followed with a 1-2-3 fourth.
Gameday box score
The 20-year-old ran into trouble in the fifth as base hits by Juan Fernandez and Podorsky put runners on the corners with two outs, but Manning set down Rosario to end the threat. After a perfect sixth, left-hander Max Green took over for the right-hander, whose day concluded after 87 pitches, 58 for strikes.
Manning got an assist in the sixth by shortstop Cole Peterson, who dove to haul in a soft fly ball in left field.
Video: Whitecaps' Peterson makes great snag
Drafted ninth overall in 2016 out of high school in Sacramento, California, the Tigers held Manning back from his full-season debut until this year. He opened 2017 with Class A Short Season Connecticut and made nine starts -- posting a 2-2 record with a 1.89 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings -- before being elevated to the Whitecaps in August.
The 6-foot-6, 190-pounder went 2-0 over five starts in his first Midwest League action, sporting a 5.60 ERA despite holding opposing batters to a .209 average. There has been a lot of give-and-take throughout his 2018 campaign. Manning opened the season with a career-high 10 strikeouts but surrendered three runs over 3 2/3 innings against Great Lakes.
He bounced back with a hitless effort on April 26 against Lake County, fanning six but issuing five walks over four one-run frames. Manning scattered four hits over six scoreless innings May 9 against Clinton, but it came on the heels of a difficult start against Peoria in which he yielded five runs over two innings and his ERA climbed to 8.38.
Tuesday's start marked his second in a row against Fort Wayne, but his first effort wasn't as clean -- he gave up three earned runs over five frames on May 16. But Manning has been consistent in his ability to strike out batters. He's boosted his rate of 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings from 2017 to a 14.5 clip this season.
In the second game of the twinbill, Brady Policelli, Cesar Gonzalez and Reynaldo Rivera contributed two hits and two RBIs apiece in West Michigan's 8-1 victory. Burris Warner allowed a run on two hits and a walk with a career-high eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.