As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Tigers camp, it was No. 1 prospect Matt Manning (MLBPipeline.com's No. 74 overall prospect).LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matt Manning was the Tigers' top pick in
As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Tigers camp, it was No. 1 prospect Matt Manning (MLBPipeline.com's No. 74 overall prospect).
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matt Manning was the Tigers' top pick in the 2016 Draft, going ninth overall and signing for $3.5 million. The 19-year-old right-hander impressed during his professional debut in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, posting a 3.99 ERA with 46 strikeouts and just seven walks in 29 1/3 innings while making 10 starts.
MLBPipeline.com: Where were you/what were you doing when you learned that the Tigers had taken you with the No. 9 overall pick?
• Tigers' Top 30 Prospects list
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Manning: I was at home back in California with my friends, family and coaches, just having a get-together for the Draft. I knew there was a good chance the Tigers would take me if it all worked out like we projected it would, and I could feel it kind of playing out that way as it happened. It was really exciting.
MLBPipeline.com: As the son of a former NBA player (Rich Manning), what were those pick-up games like growing up?
Manning: Actually, it was more me and my older brother playing, because he's more my age, about 2-3 years older than me. He's about 6-foot-6, too. I was a little shorter for a while, but by my junior and senior year I started to get the better of him. My dad had surgeries, so he'd more sit and watch and urge us on. It was always fun.
MLBPipeline.com: With March Madness now underway, does it make you think about what your basketball career might have been like?
Manning: I don't regret anything and am very happy with the decision I made. Seeing the tournament going on right now has been exciting, especially seeing all of these teams and the coaches who recruited me to play. It's fun to watch, but I definitely like where I'm at now.
MLBPipeline.com: What was the transition from high school to the Rookie Gulf Coast League like for you last summer?
Manning: It was tough, but I was really excited by it. I got hit around a little bit in my first game, but I remember going home and telling my friends and family just how fun and exciting it was to pitch all three innings against some of the better players around here.
• Tigers Spring Training report
MLBPipeline.com: What has been your biggest developmental focus this spring?
Manning: Cleaning up my delivery a little bit and making it more consistent so I can be more consistent in the zone and throw more strikes. I want to have all three of my pitches there to throw for strikes when I need them, and that starts with brushing up my mechanics. I've been trying to work in my changeup when possible in bullpens and against left-handed hitters.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.