Manning flashes promise, fastball in debut

June 18th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- If 's Triple-A numbers this season were of any concern to the Tigers heading into his Major League debut, the rookie put them to rest with a strong showing on Thursday against the Angels.

Manning, the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect and the No. 18 prospect in MLB Pipeline's Top 100, lit up the radar gun with a fastball that reached 96.6 mph and completed five innings in a 7-5 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium.

Playing in front of around 50-70 friends and family watching him at the Big A, the Sacramento, Calif., native gave up two runs and a total of four hits against the Angels before his exit.

“It was definitely fun,” Manning said. “A lot of emotions, and it was just good enough to where I feel good about it, but there are some things that I need to clean up for the next one and I'm gonna go to work in these next couple of days and get it right."

Manning gave up back-to-back two-out RBI singles to Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher in the second frame. Fletcher’s RBI single prompted a mound visit from Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter, which immediately showed its impact as the rookie managed to get out of the inning by freezing Justin Upton with a 95 mph fastball to collect his first Major League strikeout.

“I think once I got hit a little bit I knew I didn't want to end there and I wanted to keep going,” Manning said. “The way our staff is going, I wanted to get five innings. Give the guys some rest and just save the bullpen arms a little bit, so I didn't want to stop there. I wanted to keep on going.”

Manning relied heavily on his fastball, which made up 69% of his 77 pitches and was the putaway pitch for all three of his strikeouts. He also settled down after the second inning, holding the Halos scoreless and limiting them to one hit and one walk over the next three innings.

In his final inning, the righty collected strikeouts of Upton and Taylor Ward, leading manager A.J. Hinch to remove Manning from his debut outing on a high note.

“I just wanted him to exhale,” Hinch said. “You know, he had done his job and he put so much stock into this. His first impression in his first game. I know he was nervous. He should be nervous. It's the big leagues and he's a young man that's trying to find his way, so I wanted him to smile a little bit, take a deep breath [and] tell him he'd done his job, everything that we could have expected.”

Manning got the call to the big leagues during a tough stretch for the Tigers' pitching staff, after injuries to Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull left them short-handed heading into the series in Anaheim.

He had the highest ERA (8.07) among Triple-A qualifiers while with Toledo, but is a former ninth-overall Draft pick by the Tigers who posted a 2.56 ERA in his last full Minor League season with Double-A Erie in 2019, the same year he was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.

Hinch said the debut outing for Manning showed what the organization likes about the 6-foot-6 righty.

“I didn't know how he was going to feel,” Hinch said. “How much he was going to command and stuff, and as the night went along, he got more and more comfortable and showed us a lot of things that we like moving forward.”