Kyle Manzardo was once one of the vital best possible hitters within the minors this 12 months. Amongst avid gamers with no less than 300 plate appearances, simplest San Francisco Giants prospect Vaun Brown logged a better wRC+ (175 in comparison to 173) or wOBA (.464 in comparison to .450). A 22-year-old first baseman within the Tampa Bay Rays machine, Manzardo publish his numbers over 397 PA, a hamstring harm having saved him out of motion from mid-April till mid-Would possibly. Taking part in with Prime-A Bowling Inexperienced and Double-A 1st viscount montgomery of alamein, he slashed a blended .327/.426/.617 with 22 house runs.
Manzardo started honing his hitting talents in a state that has produced simply 32 primary leaguers. Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound left-handed hitter went directly to play faculty ball at Washington State College, the place he did what he does best possible: 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 12 months’s draft was once each positionally predictable and surprising.
“I used to be slightly shocked that it was once the Rays,” admitted Manzardo, who went 63rd general. “I hadn’t had a ton of touch with them, despite the fact that I did do a Zoom assembly proper earlier than the draft. I used to be more or less anticipating to head in opposition to the tip of the 0.33 spherical. That’s more or less what I’d been listening to.”
3 years previous, Manzardo heard from precisely one group. A 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. Because the sweet-swinging teen stated, “Whilst you’re drafting a primary baseman, you’re more or less simply making a bet at the bat.”
However once more, the facility to rake has all the time been there. Additionally, so has the arrogance. Requested if he concept that he may just publish such gaudy numbers in his first complete skilled season, Manzardo stated that he did. He’d executed it in faculty and in a 13-game Florida Advanced League cameo closing summer season, so why now not? It’s now not a question of conceitedness — Manzardo comes off as humble — but if all you’ve executed is hit, smartly, you are expecting to hit.
The Lake Town Prime Faculty product pointed to his background when requested about his exemplary bat-to-ball talents.
“A large number of it’s been coaching and repetition,” defined Manzardo, whose go back and forth ball revel in comprised summers with the Spokane Expos and a small selection of make a selection tournaments. “Being from North Idaho, there wasn’t any glove paintings all the way through the winters, it was once all simply hitting within the cage. Someday in my lifestyles I spotted that baseball was once what I truly sought after to do, so I more or less offered out to be as just right a hitter as I in all probability might 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 loves to get his foot down early to look the ball so long as imaginable. From there he desires to be “brief and direct, operating throughout the baseball.” And whilst he does be capable 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 Most sensible Potentialities listing previous to the beginning of the season, he wrote that Manzardo “had some of the best possible moderate go out velocities in faculty baseball at a whopping 98 mph, despite the fact that that got here with what would represent 40-grade max go out velocities.”
“I’d say it’s the similar tale now,” stated Manzardo, whose disciplined way ended in him strolling just about as repeatedly (59) as he struck out (63) this 12 months. “I didn’t hit any balls over 110 [mph], despite the fact that I did hit some 105 to 107. I believe that’s simply the best way my swing is ready up routinely; it’s now not constructed for big-time pop or a ton of tremendous prime go out velos. I’m most commonly simply striving to be on time and get the barrel to the ball.”
He’s additionally striving to enroll in make a selection corporate. Harmon Killebrew is through some distance the best Idaho-born participant in primary league historical past, and whilst others have made their mark — Larry Jackson, Vance Legislation, Vern Legislation, and Jason Schmidt are notable — simplest Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming have produced fewer massive leaguers. The selection of avid gamers drafted every 12 months from The Gem State stays anything else however huge.
“I believe there are possibly 4 or 5 people in skilled baseball presently, so it’s a sexy small crew,” stated Manzardo. “A large number of teammates I’ve had since attending to professional ball a 12 months and a part in the past have informed me they’ve by no means even met anyone from Idaho. I believe like I’m more or less the consultant for the state of Idaho within the Rays group.”