Rays Prospect Kyle Manzardo Continues to Mash

Rays Prospect Kyle Manzardo Continues to Mash
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Manzardo was once one of the vital easiest hitters within the minors this yr. Among avid gamers with a minimum of 300 plate appearances, simplest San Francisco Giants prospect Vaun Brown logged the next wRC+ (175 when compared to 173) or wOBA (.464 when compared to .450). A 22-year-old first baseman within the Tampa Bay Rays machine, Manzardo publish his numbers over 397 PA, a hamstring damage having saved him out of motion from mid-April till mid-May. Playing with High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery, he slashed a mixed .327/.426/.617 with 22 house runs.

Manzardo started honing his hitting talents in a state that has produced simply 32 main leaguers. Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound left-handed hitter went on to play faculty ball at Washington State University, the place he did what he does easiest: sq. up baseballs. In 3 years with the Cougars, Manzardo batted .330 with an OPS north of one.000. That he lasted till the again finish of the second one spherical of closing yr’s draft was once each positionally predictable and surprising.

“I was a little surprised that it was the Rays,” admitted Manzardo, who went 63rd total. “I hadn’t had a ton of contact with them, although I did do a Zoom meeting right before the draft. I was kind of expecting to go towards the end of the third round. That’s kind of what I’d been hearing.”

Three years previous, Manzardo heard from precisely one crew. An space scout from the San Francisco Giants reached out to him in highschool, however not anything got here of the dialog. It wasn’t till he’d punished pitchers within the Pac-12 that he started attracting consideration, however even then his profile integrated a caveat. As the sweet-swinging teen stated, “When you’re drafting a first baseman, you’re kind of just betting on the bat.”

But once more, the facility to rake has all the time been there. Moreover, so has the boldness. Asked if he concept that he may publish such gaudy numbers in his first complete skilled season, Manzardo mentioned that he did. He’d carried out it in faculty and in a 13-game Florida Complex League cameo closing summer time, so why now not? It’s now not an issue of vanity — Manzardo comes off as humble — but if all you’ve carried out is hit, smartly, you are expecting to hit.

The Lake City High School product pointed to his background when requested about his exemplary bat-to-ball talents.

“A lot of it has been training and repetition,” defined Manzardo, whose trip ball enjoy comprised summers with the Spokane Expos and a small selection of make a selection tournaments. “Being from North Idaho, there wasn’t any glove work during the winters, it was all just hitting in the cage. At some point in my life I realized that baseball was what I really wanted to do, so I kind of sold out to be as good a hitter as I possibly could be.”

His stroke is designed to pressure balls up gaps. Manzardo described his swing as easy and repeatable with a flatter bat trail, including that he likes to get his foot down early to see the ball so long as conceivable. From there he desires to be “short and direct, working inside the baseball.” And whilst he does have the option to transparent the fences — his 22 taters had been tied for third-most within the Tampa Bay machine — he’s now not precisely a Statcast darling. When Eric Longenhagen put in combination our Rays Top Prospects checklist prior to the beginning of the season, he wrote that Manzardo “had among the highest average exit velocities in college baseball at a whopping 98 mph, though that came with what would constitute 40-grade max exit velocities.”

“I’d say it’s the same story now,” stated Manzardo, whose disciplined way ended in him strolling just about as repeatedly (59) as he struck out (63) this yr. “I didn’t hit any balls over 110 [mph], although I did hit some 105 to 107. I think that’s just the way my swing is set up mechanically; it’s not built for big-time pop or a ton of super high exit velos. I’m mostly just striving to be on time and get the barrel to the ball.”

He’s additionally striving to sign up for make a selection corporate. Harmon Killebrew is through some distance the best Idaho-born participant in main league historical past, and whilst others have made their mark — Larry Jackson, Vance Law, Vern Law, and Jason Schmidt are notable — simplest Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming have produced fewer giant leaguers. The selection of avid gamers drafted each and every yr from The Gem State stays anything else however massive.

“I think there are maybe four or five of us in professional baseball right now, so it’s a pretty small group,” mentioned Manzardo. “A lot of teammates I’ve had since getting to pro ball a year and a half ago have told me they’ve never even met anybody from Idaho. I feel like I’m kind of the representative for the state of Idaho in the Rays organization.”

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