Why Manzardo could make noise at Spring Breakout

February 16th, 2024

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Think about the excitement that the annual Futures Game brings during the All-Star break and how fun it is to see Guardians prospects showcase their talents in a big moment. It allows fans to dream about the day these players are on the Major League roster.

Now, picture that type of game with a full roster of only Guardians prospects.

Major League Baseball will be hosting its inaugural Spring Breakout games from March 14-17. On Thursday, it was announced that the Guardians, who will be playing against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz., on March 16, will be broadcast on MLB digital platforms (MLB app, MLB.com and MLB.TV) audio-only at 7:05 p.m. ET.

We won’t know the rosters until they’re released on March 7 at 11 a.m. ET on MLB Network, but Guardians prospects like (Guardians No. 1), (No. 2) and (No. 4) will be eligible to play considering they’re on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list. And should Manzardo participate, he could be one to draw a crowd.

“He finished the season really strong in the Arizona Fall League,” Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “Hasn’t had a ton of at-bats just throughout his Minor League career, so he’ll continue to benefit by every at-bat he gets.”

Manzardo is a guy with tremendous hit ability and the potential to club 20+ homers in a season. He's the type of bat that the Guardians have been looking to plug into the middle of the order for the last few years. If he’s headlining this event, fans can see first-hand just how special he could be among the rest of the up-and-coming stars in their system.

“It’s gonna be fun,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “This game is getting younger and younger and there’s more excitement around young players than any other time, really. … I think it’s an exciting time for organizations to show the talent that’s coming, and we’ve got a lot of it.”

“It sounds like it’ll be really fun, a great opportunity for whoever gets to play in it,” Manzardo said.

Players are eligible to participate regardless of their Minor League level or experience, allowing there to be a mix of older and younger prospects to showcase their abilities in front of fans. No matter their age, each participant will be a highly ranked prospect in Cleveland’s system -- rankings Manzardo has learned to ignore.

“I would say I notice [my ranking], but I’m not like sitting around worrying about it or losing sleep about who puts me where on the list or whatever,” Manzardo said. “I don’t know, maybe three years ago or so maybe I worried a little bit more about that stuff, but nowadays I would say I’m just more focused on my own process and worrying about my own things I guess, more so than the list.”

If Manzardo is needed in the Majors for most of this season, he’ll soon be graduating from all of these lists. The most exciting part about the 23-year-old first baseman is that his arrival to the big leagues is not far away. There’s a possibility he cracks the Opening Day roster, and if not, it’d be shocking to make it through the summer without him already having his debut out of the way.

But in the midst of a roster battle in big league camp, he could have a chance to be a star of MLB’s marquee spring event. He can finally put last year’s shoulder injury and offensive struggles behind him and start the 2024 season on a positive note. And at the end of the year, he’s hoping to look back at the Spring Breakout game as the start of a healthy, exciting season.