Matt Manning accomplished what most teenagers desire.
He graduated from Sheldon High School, took a few days to unwind and found immediate employment.
Manning, however, is not your typical teen making minimum wage bagging groceries or painting fences. The 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher with a fastball that regularly reaches 96 mph was drafted by the Detroit Tigers with the ninth overall pick June 9.
On Wednesday, Manning arrived in Lakeland, Fla. – spring training home of the Tigers – where Thursday he is expected to sign a contract that will pay him a $3.5 million bonus, a record for area prospects.
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77 Matt Manning’s strikeout total in 401/3 innings this year
That sum will top the $2.5 million bonus former Elk Grove High outfielder Derek Hill received when he signed as a first-round choice with Detroit in 2014.
And to think Manning nearly gave up baseball after his freshman season to focus on basketball. Manning decided to stick with both sports, though he never envisioned baseball fame. He burst onto the national scene last summer, wowing scouts in showcase events with his fastball and athleticism.
“I still can’t believe all of this has happened,” he said. “I’m really excited to get started.”
Manning also didn’t realize his place in history.
He is just the second area pitcher picked in the first round out of high school, joining Butch Edge of El Camino in 1974. Edge signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, who took him sixth overall, and he played one major-league season, with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979. Manning is the third highest-drafted player locally out of high school, behind Edge and outfielder Leron Lee of Grant. Lee went seventh overall to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1966 and played eight major-league seasons.
Manning eventually will play in the Gulf Coast League, where the Tigers field two teams, after workouts and pitching instruction that will acclimate him to pro ball.
In the Gulf Coast League, Manning can expect to face a rival and friend, outfielder Dylan Carlson, The Sacramento Bee’s Player of the Year from Elk Grove. Last week, Carlson signed his first-round deal with the Cardinals.
I still can’t believe all of this has happened. I’m really excited to get started.
Manning, 18, intrigued scouts and general managers for his ability to reach the mid-90s with his fastball, topping out at 99 mph in a predraft workout with the Tigers. He did not begin pitching seriously until his junior season at Sheldon, and as a Bee All-Metro basketball player, Manning did not pitch year-round, sparing his arm from overuse.
As a senior, Manning was 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA and was named to The Bee’s All-Metro team. He struck out 77 in 40 1/3 innings, often throwing in front of 25 or more scouts armed with radar guns. He helped the Huskies reach the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time since 2004.