Timmy Manning was off to a strong start to begin his high school senior season this spring.
The left-handed pitcher from Cardinal Gibbons High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was nearly unhittable through his first four starts until the coronavirus caused the season to be suspended.
He threw a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and one walk allowed in his season debut. He then carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his second start. He threw shutouts in his final two starts before the season came to a halt.
His high school team featured seven seniors in its starting lineup this spring after finishing as the state runner-ups last year. Manning was hoping to win a state championship in his final season.
Having the season suspended was a frustrating and heartbreaking outcome, Manning said.
If Manning doesn’t throw another pitch in a high school contest this spring, the next time he will take the mound for a game will be either at the University of Florida or in the professional ranks.
Manning currently is working out and refining his skills at the Florida Baseball Ranch in Lakeland, Fla., in anticipation for his next step in his baseball career.
Pro scouts project Manning as a likely early-round selection in this year’s MLB draft.
“It would be an honor to have a team call my name on Draft Day,” Manning said. “It’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid. But the way I see it, I just have to keep getting better.
“I honestly can’t go wrong with the situation with either playing professional baseball, which is my dream, or going to the University of Florida, which is my dream school. You always know you are going to go to Omaha when you play for Florida.”
Manning is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed pitcher who throws a fastball, curveball and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot. His smooth, low-effort delivery allows him to consistently throw strikes.
He spent the offseason adding 15 pounds to his frame and refining his changeup in preparation for his senior season.
His top pitch is his mid-70s curveball that has excellent spin and depth to it. He effectively throws the pitch against right-handed and left-handed hitters and generates a high percentage of strikeouts with the offering.
His fastball sits 88 to 91 mph and touched 93 mph this spring. He believes his fastball velocity will increase over time as he adds more strength.
“I would say pitchability and competitiveness,” said Manning on his strengths. “I really like to think I have the best stuff in the class. I obviously don’t throw the hardest in this class, but I think I still have the best movement on my fastball. I think I have the best curveball and once that changeup comes around, I think I have the best pitchability in the class. I’m also a total competitor. I hate losing.”
His changeup was an effective offering this spring after he worked on the pitch in the offseason. Before this season, he struggled to trust and have control of his changeup, he said.
This spring, Manning threw his changeup about 33 percent of the time. It allowed him to gain confidence in the offering, especially since opposing hitters didn’t always expect to see the pitch.
“It’s a pitch that not a lot of people have seen from me,” Manning said. “It’s new and a lot of people just sat fastball, curveball with me. Now, I mix in that changeup and they have that third pitch in the back of their head. It just really throws them off, so it’s a pitch I like to be aggressive with.”
If the MLB draft doesn’t work in Manning’s favor, he’s more than content to join the Florida Gators in the fall. It was the second school he visited during the recruiting process. He verbally committed to Florida in the fall of his freshman year in 2016.
“They win,” Manning said. “I love to win. The Gators always seem to end up in Omaha. I’ve been watching the College World Series since I was a kid. Also, growing up I played quarterback, and with being a lefty, I liked Tim Tebow. So, Florida was always my favorite school.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.