DETROIT -- For the second consecutive January, the Tigers have a pitching prospect on the pre-spring version of the MLB.com Top 100 list. This time, however, their pick is a long way from making an impact in the Major Leagues.
Matt Manning, Detroit's top pick from last year's Draft, ranks 74th on the list heading into the 2017 season. No other Tigers prospect made the rankings.
The situation looks somewhat similar to last January, when Michael Fulmer was the Tigers' only ranked prospect at 53rd. Fulmer, then the reigning Pitcher of the Year in the Double-A Eastern League, went on to take the Majors by storm, winning American League Rookie of the Year honors and nearly becoming the first rookie in 40 years to win the AL ERA title.
Manning has a long way to go before he can even enter the conversation for a big league callup. But in his brief time as a pro, the lanky right-hander has shown signs of that potential.
The son of former NBA center Rich Manning, Matt Manning was a two-sport star in high school and had a scholarship offer to play basketball and baseball at Loyola Marymount. The Tigers selected the 6-foot-6 hurler with the ninth overall pick, hoping to focus his athleticism and arm on the diamond, enticing him to turn pro with a $3.5 million signing bonus. He immediately became Detroit's top-rated prospect, ranking 66th on MLB.com's midseason top 100 list.
Manning went 0-2 with a 3.99 ERA over 10 starts in the Gulf Coast League, but he struck out 46 over 29 1/3 innings, showing off a fastball in the mid to upper 90s along with a power curve. His next logical step would be Class A West Michigan, where 2015 first-round pick Beau Burrows pitched last season.
The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.