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2016 Mets draft preview: Matt Manning

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With the 19th pick in the draft, the Mets could potentially draft Matt Manning. Who is he, and would he be worth selecting?

Name: Matt Manning
Born: Elk Grove, California
Age: 18 (1/28/1998)
Height/Weight: 6'6"/185 lbs
Position: RHP
Bats/Throws: R/R
School: Sheldon High School (Sacramento, California)

Introduction

At six-feet-six-inches, Matt Manning towers over most, but at his dinner table, the right-hander is dwarfed by his father. Rich Manning played professional basketball for two seasons with the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers, and he stands at an impressive six-feet-eleven-inches tall. Rich attended the University of Washington and was drafted in the second round of the 1993 NBA Draft.

Like his father, Matt is likely to be drafted by a professional team, but his path into professional sports will differ from his father's in two very important ways: Matt will be drafted by a baseball team, and he will almost undoubtedly be drafted in the first round.

While Manning plays basketball, serving as Sheldon High School's forward, he excels at baseball. In fact, the right-hander travels with a baseball glove wherever he goes, just in case. He keeps a glove in his car, he takes a glove to class, and he even sleeps with a glove on his pillow. "Gotta have my glove," Manning said. "I take a ball with me, too, sometimes to government class. I'm always trying to figure out my grip."

Manning opened eyes last season during the various prep showcases that took place late in the year. He pitched an inning at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, allowing a hit and striking out a batter in the ninth inning. He also struck out 14 batters in seven shutout innings at the WWBA World Championship.

The righty got a late start to his 2016 baseball season, as his Sheldon basketball team made a late run into the spring. When he did get on the mound, Manning made the most of his limited time, posting a 1.91 ERA in eight starts, while striking out 77 and walking 21 in 40.1 innings. The Elk Grove Citizen named the young right-hander the high school baseball co-MVP for his performance during the 2016 season.

Manning has a commitment to Loyola-Marymount College, but may forgo it if a major league team drafts him this year. Though a top talent, Manning's signability concerns have scared some teams. With a second pick in the first round due to the departure of Daniel Murphy, the Mets may be willing to play financial chicken with Manning and his representatives. Were they to sign him, the Mets would infuse their minor league system with premium talent in the form of Manning, plus whoever they select with their second first-round pick at number 31 overall. Were Manning to not sign after being drafted, the Mets would still get a first-round pick at number 31, plus a compensation pick in the 2017 draft.

Stats

Year Level Age Games Innings Pitched ERA K BB
2016 High School 18 8 (8 GS) 40.1 1.91 77 21

What The Scouts Think

At six-feet-six-inches and 185 pounds, Manning has an extremely projectable frame. His fastball sits in the low-90s, and has been clocked as high as 94 mph in the 2015 WWBA World Championship—the eighth-highest velocity in the showcase of prospects—and 95 mph in the California World Series. During the 2016 season, Manning added a little more zip to his fastball, which is said to now touch the high-90s, and as high as 98 mph. Even if the pitch does not yet reach that velocity on a consistent basis, it likely will in a few years as Manning adds more muscle to his lean body.

Manning complements his fastball with a curveball and a changeup. When he throws his his curveball, it flashes plus and, when it's working, it has an eleven-to-five drop with late break and solid bite. The changeup is Manning's third and least-developed pitch. That said, he has shown some feel for it, and it should become a viable in-game pitch in the future.

Manning throws from a three-quarters arm slot and uses a leg kick for deception. He also throws across his body, and as a result, sometimes gets too rotational as he follows through, landing too closed and spinning over his front side. This sometimes causes him to lose his release point and control in the process. However, with more physical and baseball development, that can be corrected. Finally, Manning's arm action is loose and effortless, and shortened from earlier in his career, allowing him to repeat his release point as consistently as possible.

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