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Brushing Up On Jeff Manship

From Manship to Masset

Prior to the '08 season, Kevin Goldstein ranked Jeff Manship 3rd in the Twins solid-at-the-time system and had this to say:

Manship’s control surpasses anyone's in the system, and that’s saying quite a bit. His fastball has good enough (90-91 mph) velocity because of its sink and location, and his curveball is a true plus pitch, with both offerings generating plenty of ground balls when contact is made at all. He works very efficiently and quickly, and pitches with a fearlessness that borders on arrogance.

An 14th round pick out of college, he was getting all that he could out of his limited upside.  Fast forward to the '09 Twins list, and it turns out it wasn't enough.  He struggled in the upper levels and dropped to 11th in the system.  And instead of a potential mid-rotation starter, KG spoke of him as a back-end type:

Manship is a strike-thrower who uses his 89-91 mph sinker to generate ground balls and set up his plus curveball, which he'll throw at any point in the count. He's aggressive within the strike zone, and brings an intensity to the mound that scouts love.

A right handed pitcher who merely touches 91 mph needs either pinpoint control or a variety of offerings.  Manship appears to have neither and he projects poorly as a result.  He's had success in the minors by limiting walks and home runs, but the latter will likely be the problem in his transition to the majors.  Nick Blackburn comes to mind as a similar arm and he stopped the anemic White Sox offense anyway.  But Manship is limited further still with a lesser fastball and, likely, lesser control.  A curve will normally work to either handed batter, but his minor league K-rate doesn't back up KG's suggestion that it's a plus pitch.  His change is less relevant against a Thome-less White Sox team, but Goldstein still listed it as needing development.  Good command of a below average fastball and an average curve likely means future reliever.  His upside is Nick Blackburn.

Blackburn, of course, and a myriad of other fairly untalented right handed pitchers have had their way with the White Sox this year.  On the year, the Sox have managed a .250/.319/.404 (~.321 wOBA) mark against all righties faced and now they must soldier on without a Hall of Fame lefty.  I'd like for this to go well and maybe even finish strong in September.  Then again: draft pick!  That is to say, what's good for the team may not be good for our eyeballs.