Manuel preaches team first at States Play tourney

Former White Sox, Mets manager coaching youth from Texas, California; Witt Jr. stars in Game 2

August 26th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- Jerry Manuel is hoping he can help shorten the learning curve for some of baseball's top amateur prospects during this weekend's inaugural States Play tournament.

The tournament will showcase some of the top rising seniors from Texas and California in a three-game series this weekend. Manuel -- who managed the White Sox from 1998-2003 and the Mets from 2008-10 -- is among a coaching staff that includes Homer Bush, Royce Clayton, Ken Hill, Gerald Laird, Darren Oliver and Andy Stankiewicz, all of whom have big league ties and have lived in the two states.

Manuel said he's excited about the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the participating players, especially since the event is in a big league setting. All three games will be played at Globe Life Park.

"The thing that excites me about more than anything is that we're in an era where it's basically showcase baseball, and if it's showcase baseball, that means that the individual becomes bigger than the game," Manuel said. "In this situation, we put it back into perspective to where the game is bigger than the individual, and then you begin to teach how this game is played, and, hopefully, how you can impact and be ready to go at the next level in a sense that you understand what's expected, as far as the strategy goes."

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Manuel said focusing on teaching strategy will be one of his goals during the tournament, and he added that the team atmosphere should give the players a better feel for the game as they continue to develop. Showcase events often focus solely on individual performances.

"We're trying to teach them how to compete in a team atmosphere versus an individual atmosphere," Manuel said. "I think that's what's going to be exciting for them. Hopefully, we can impact and open their minds to, 'Look, this is not a game of checkers, it's a game of chess. If you want to win, you've got to be playing chess. You've got to know what to do and when to do it.' Certain things in a game count versus certain things in a showcase that might not count."

Many of the players in the tournament have had a grinding summer participating in other MLB/USA Baseball development-focused events, such as the Tournament of the Stars, the Breakthrough Series, the Elite Development Invitational, the DREAM Series and the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP).

Keeping the players focused and energized will be another goal for Manuel and the coaching staff.

"I think when the umpire says, 'Play ball,' and the other team shows a little bit more energy, all of a sudden you get that excitement," Manuel said. "That blood starts flowing and it gets competitive, and you're on a team, not as an individual -- hopefully these are the kind of guys that we bring to the next level, guys who want to compete."

Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. had another strong showing in Team Texas' 9-1 win over Team California on Saturday, the second game of the series. Witt blasted a three-run home run in the ninth inning and finished 2-for-5 with a double.

Witt is 5-for-10 with two home runs and five RBIs in the first two games of the series. He's committed to Oklahoma and is regarded as the top prospect in the 2019 Draft class.

Arlington native Kadon Morton hit a two-run double in the fifth inning for Texas. He attends Juan Seguin High School and is also committed to Oklahoma.

Texas took a team no-hitter into the sixth before right-handed reliever Jared Southard allowed a single to Garrett Frechette, California's only hit on the night. Frechette, a San Diego State commit, has four hits through the first two games.

California first baseman Joseph Naranjo got the scoring started on Friday with a two-run home run in the first inning, and he made an impressive play on defense in the first inning on Saturday.

With a runner on first and one out in the inning, Witt hit a popup near first base. Naranjo bumped into second baseman Kyren Paris and fell to the ground, but he recovered to make the catch on his back and throw out Trey Faltine III at first.

Texas has won the first two games of the series. The series finale will start at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday at Globe Life Park.