The only way Matt Manning was going to last in baseball, and the only way to hold his attention in a sport that has plenty of lag time, was to give him an active position.
Manning might have dozed off in right field or at first base, his parents figured years ago. Now, baseball is about to become a livelihood for the recently graduated 6-foot-6 power pitcher from Sheldon High School.
On Thursday night, the right-hander was selected ninth overall in the major-league draft.
A house party pulsating with family and friends erupted at the news. The mob included members of his baseball and basketball teams. As soon as it was announced that Detroit picked Manning, a friend yanked off his own Tigers hat and tossed it to the pitcher.
A player who nearly gave up the sport following his freshman season is now so into this gig that he names his baseball gloves. Now he’s about to become quite wealthy. Manning could receive a signing bonus upward of $4 million.
“Matt is not a very patient kid,” said Rich Manning, a Center High graduate and a second-round NBA pick in 1993 by the Atlanta Hawks. “He’s an action kid who needed to play shortstop or catcher or pitcher. His mom always sensed it, always said he’d wind up playing baseball. Mom’s instincts were right.”
Manning continued to play basketball, averaging 19.4 points this past season and earning Bee All-Metro honors. Manning expects to sign with Detroit. If not, he will attend Loyola Marymount to play basketball and baseball.
Manning is the second area player in three years to go in the first round to the Tigers. Elk Grove High outfielder Derek Hill went 23rd overall in 2014.
And Manning is the second area pitcher to go in the first round out of high school since the modern-day draft started in 1965. El Camino pitcher Butch Edge went sixth overall to Milwaukee in 1974. The area’s highest-drafted position player is Grant slugger Leron Lee, who went seventh to St. Louis in 1966.
“I’m really excited,” Manning said. “It’s really a special time. I’m really relieved, and I’m comfortable with Detroit, especially knowing Derek Hill is there, and I know him and his dad (Orsino Hill). It’ll be nice knowing someone from home and working together to take our game to the next level.”
Manning started to blossom as a pitcher as a Sheldon junior. He soared on the prospect list over the summer during showcase events, in which he regularly hit the mid 90s with his fastball.
Throughout the spring, the Manning home was a haven for MLB executives and scouts who stopped by to talk baseball, learn about him, ask him questions and field questions.
Manning, in front of a sea of radar guns this spring, struck out 77 in 40 1/3 innings as he helped the upstart Huskies reach the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Now that one waiting game is over, another begins. When will he sign? Will he sign? The process could take weeks, per the norm.
“We’re just sitting and waiting now, but we’re enjoying this time,” Manning said. “We’ll let it settle down and take it from there.”
Dylan Carlson, a slugger for Elk Grove and a Delta League rival of Manning’s, was picked 33rd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Carlson hit nine home runs for the Herd. His stock soared this spring, and at 17, he's one of the youngest players to be drafted.
The A’s selected A.J. Puk, a 6-foot-7 left-hander from the University of Florida, with the sixth overall pick.
The Giants surrendered their first-round choice (26th) to the Chicago White Sox as compensation for signing free-agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija.