This is the second in my series of 2016 MLB Draft profiles. This time, I turn to projectable prep right-hander Matt Manning.
6’6, 195 pounds
DOB: Jan. 28, 1998
Commitment: Loyola Marymount
Slot recommended bonus (No. 20): $2,316,300
Slot recommended bonus (No. 32): $1,940,700
Slot recommended bonus (No. 36): $1,791,000
Editor’s note: All information of draft prospects compiled from internet sources, scouting reports and video.
The first thing you think when you see Manning’s profile is projectability. A 6’6, 185-pound frame makes that quite easy to do. But what is easily dismissed on the surface is his athleticism in that large frame. His father Rich was an NBA player, and it’s only natural that Matt played some basketball in high school. But his future lies on a pitching rubber.
Manning has a elite fastball velocity. His heater sits in the mid-90s and has touched 98 MPH. He can run it and sink it a bit. Perfect Game rates him as having the third-best fastball of any prep pitcher in this year’s draft (behind future Top 5 picks Jason Groome and Riley Pint). He backs it up with an 11-5 power/spike curveball that has slider tendencies at times. He needs to be more consistent with it, but there’s a lot of potential in the pitch. He should get plenty of whiffs on it in the minors and majors. His third pitch is a changeup that needs a lot of work, but that’s no uncommon for prep pitchers.
His athleticism is apparent, but his delivery is a little funky. Manning lines up on the first base side of the rubber and everything looks relatively normal until he turns on the rubber. Then, his left leg has a little hitch in it. It’s similar to what Clayton Kershaw does, but it’s not a direct replication. Then, Manning fires the ball across his body. It reminds me a bit of the Weaver brothers (Jeff Weaver and Jered Weaver) and Jake Peavy. Manning delivers his pitches from a three-quarters arm slot. That allows him to get that arm-side run that gives his fastball another dimension. He flies off rather dramatically to the third base side of the mound on occasion after he delivers the pitch, which makes him susceptible balls being hit through the middle. His front shoulder opens up quickly, which leads to inconsistent command. He’ll need to do a better job of keeping it closed in the pros.
Videos courtesy of Baseball America and Prospect Pipeline (Steve Fiorindo)
Manning isn’t going to be a prospect who flies through the minors. The Dodgers will push him a bit, as they have with other prep players drafted in recent years (Cody Bellinger, Grant Holmes, Alex Verdugo), but Manning will need to refine his game probably more than that trio. But his upside is off the charts.
Manning will check in pretty high on my first big board (out tomorrow, most likely) and his commitment to Loyola Marymount shouldn’t keep the Dodgers (or any team) from signing him. He has No. 2 starter upside and has the prototypical frame for a starting pitcher. He’ll add good weight in the pros and use that to his advantage. He might not make it to pick 20, but there are prep arms who tend to fall in the draft. That’s how the Dodgers were able to get Holmes at No. 22 in 2014.