In reading Nick Nelson's Twins Month in Review I saw that he highlighted Jeff Manship, a 14th round draft pick of the Twins in the 2006 draft. Manship has posted some excellent April numbers for the Low-A Beloit Snappers and I thought it would be a good idea to let Twins fans know a bit about him. If you're interested you can check out his stats here.
Manship is a 6 foot, 195 pound, 22 year old right-hander who attended Notre Dame and pitched on the same staff as the very well known football/baseball prospect Jeff Samardzija. In 2006 he was the only unamimous selection to the All-Big East team and was the Big East Pitcher of the Year. He was the highest rated pitcher ever to join Notre Dame's program but saw his career there largely derailed by injuries including reconstructive elbow surgery in 2004. Due to that injury he missed his entire freshman season and another injury to his pitching finger (which occurred when he tried to field a sharp grounder) limited his pitching in his sophomore season where he split time between the rotation and the bullpen. Overall his college stats are quite pedestrian. In his one season he pitched only 22.3 innings with a 3.97 ERA. He also had a fairly high WHIP as he allowed 34 baserunners in those 22.3 innings, but he benefited from both being a good strikeout pitcher, 20 in 22.3 innings, and from being an extreme ground ball pitcher, as he has a 2.00 GB/FB ratio.
He was listed by prestigious baseball publication, Baseball America, to be the 13th overall player taken in their 2003 mock draft (the year he'd have come out of college) He was rated by Baseball America as the third best pitching prospect coming out of high school behind only Ian Kennedy and some guy named Andrew Miller, heady company but wasn't drafted until the 50th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks because it was known around baseball that he was committed to attending Notre Dame. He also made their All-America team along with some guys you may be familiar with such as Delmon Young, Brandon Wood, Eric Duncan, Ian Stewart, Chris Lubanski, Lastings Milledge, and Adam Miller.
As for his stuff he's said to have a low 90's fastball which he spots with excellent control and a devastating, "fall-off-the-table" curveball along with an average changeup which he'll need to develop to be successful the major league level. Overall I'm excited about the kid, some people think his ceiling is higher than that of Kevin Slowey because of his absurd curve and I tend to agree. It'll be interesting to see how he continues to develop and whether or not his reconstructed elbow can withstand the abuse that it'll continue to receive. But it's clear that the Twins may have made a huge steal drafting such a high ceiling, well regarded prospect such as him in the 14th round. Pay close attention to his development.
Further reading on Jeff Manship:
-Much of the information for this article was found here.
- Beyond the boxscore
- Cotuit Kettleers
- GCL Twins