Thursday, July 3, 2008
Q&A with Jeff Manship
New Britain Rockcats Starter
Good morning to everyone! It is time for another Q&A with another top Twins Prospect. Now, Jeff Manship is not a stranger to the SethSpeaks.net Q&A. He did two last season, one in May and one in September, just after the season's completion. As you recall, a couple of weeks ago, I asked readers to send me a couple of questions for Jeff. You did, and I sent them to him. He was kind enough to respond, and as you will be able to see, he took some time and put some thought into his responses. So a big thank you to those who sent questions and another big thank you to Jeff Manship for taking the time to respond.
If you'd like a refresher, Jeff Manship was one of the best high school pitchers in baseball coming out of Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas in 2003. He was set to go to Notre Dame. Before heading to South Bend, he was playing for Team USA. While pitching, he felt pain in his elbow and forearm, and in the end, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2004 season. He came back in a limited role in 2005 for the Irish. But then in 2006, he went 9-2 with a 3.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 94 innings. The Twins drafted him in the 14th round amid rumors that he wanted to stay at Notre Dame for his senior year. But he was ready for pro ball and the Twins were able to sign him to a very nice signing bonus. He has been excellent ever since. He began the 2007 season in Beloit with the Snappers where he went 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA. He had 77 strikeouts to just nine walks in 77.2 innings. That earned him a midseason promotion to Ft. Myers. There he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 71.1 innings. He walked 25 and struck out 59.
To the surprise of many, Manship began the 2008 season back in Ft. Myers. In many organizations, a guy of Manship's talent would be pushed through the system, but because the Twins have plenty of pitching prospects, they can afford to be patient and let players work on things at levels in which they can succeed. Jeff admits below that there are some things that he did need to work on to be ready for the next level. So in 13 starts in Ft. Myers, Jeff went 7-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 78.1 innings. He walked 20 and struck out 63. Last month, he joined teammates Brian Dinkelman, Danny Valencia, Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama at the Florida State League All-Star game where he pitched a quick, scoreless inning. Then the next day, he joined Dinkelman, Valencia and Delaney on a trip to New Britain, Connecticut, to join the AA Rockcats. He has made three starts now there, and it is definitely encouraging. The first start didn't go so well. The second start was very good, and in the third start, he got his first win and again pitched well.
With that, I'm sure you're ready to just read the Q&A, so let's get to it. If you would like to see the other Q&As with Twins minor leaguers and others that have been done on this site, please click here. And hey, I know Jeff checks out the site from time to time, so feel free to drop him a note or ask him a question in the Comments section. Maybe he will have a little time to respond, and if not, I will take those questions and send them to him.
Let Your Questions Begin!
What is it like finding lodging in a mid-season call-up like to New Britain. How helpful is the team/Twins in doing such things? And, how much stuff does a player in the minor leagues live with? - Joel Thingvall
Jeff Manship: It can create some problems, but luckily I was able to find a place quickly. The day after we arrived in New Britain we traveled to Portland, Maine so it gave me time to find a roommate and think of a place to live. Finding lodging is the playerís responsibility. We are on our own to find roommates and places to live. All players are different in regard to how much they live with. Some feel it necessary to have a wide arrange of clothing and others have enough clothes to last a week. It is tough to have a lot of stuff because of the moves a player may have to make between levels..
What is it like getting requests for your autograph? Is it different when you get a major TriStar release like you did this season? Do you wait for your first Topps or Bowman card to happen? - Joel Thingvall
Jeff Manship: I always enjoy singing autographs and find it flattering when fans request them. Itís great to see the TriStar card. I like that one much better than the rookie card because it actually shows me in a professional uniform.
I still believe that the reason Jeff dropped to where the Twins selected him is that there was some concern that he would be going back to Notre Dame for another year. Can you confirm what was going through your mind at that time? Also, did coach Manieri leaving Notre Dame that summer (he went to LSU I think) have any influence on your decision? - Roger Dehring
Jeff Manship: I was a little upset on draft day because I expected to go higher. I was happy to be selected by such a great organization, but I figured I would probably be going back to Notre Dame at the time. The Twins were aware of my demands and luckily we were able to negotiate successfully. Coach Manieri actually didnít have any impact on my signing. When word got out that he was looking to go to LSU, I was already in the middle of negotiations with the Twins and I wanted to sign.
Jeff, what is favorite and least favorite road trips? - Brad from Wisconsin
Jeff Manship: So far the best road trip Iíve been on was probably to Tampa. One of my best friends from college plays within the Yankees organization so I was able to go out with him and enjoy the trip more. Plus there are a lot of things to do in Tampa versus some places, especially in the Midwest League. In addition, we stayed at a four star Sheraton Hotel, which is by far the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in on a road trip. Even though I got lit up, I also had a great time in South Bend, Indiana last season. Obviously I enjoyed the trip because Notre Dame is located in South Bend so I was able to see all of my friends from college. I never got to make the trip, but I hear Burlington, Iowa has one of the best hotels. Apparently itís equipped with an indoor water park. The least favorite trip that Iíve been on was probably to Clinton, Iowa to play the Lumberkings. The concoction of smells created in that town is unmatched. Right near our ritzy Motel 8 was a Purina dog food plant, an animal by-products rendering plant, and a sewage treatment center. In addition, we made the trip very early in the season so it was ridiculously cold outside.
In a previous interactive Q&A I asked if you kept in touch with Jeff
Samardzija, comparing notes on how your careers were going. You said yes.
At the time the numbers suggested you were doing better than he was. But
you were one level lower and the data was very thin, so it didn't mean
The difference in level was still true until your recent promotion. (Congratulations!) But the data is no longer thin. You each have 240 IP. That's more than a full season. It's time to draw some comparisons. To establish a baseline, let's see how each of you did in 2006, your last year at N.D.
Category Jeff M. Jeff S. Relativity
ERA 3.26 4.33 133
WHIP 1.13 1.41 125
BB/9 2.68 3.41 127
SO/9 10.63 5.62 189
Note: For convenience, the relativities are all calculated so that a score
over 100 indicates how much better you did. Thus, for the first 3 stats the
ratio is JS/JM; for the last one it is JM/JS.
Comment: I remembered your numbers were better than his in college, but not how much better. 25-33% is big. 89% is HUGE. I realize numbers don't tell the whole story; "stuff" matters. Still, looking at them now, I can't believe he was drafted 9 rounds ahead of you. (That's not a question, but feel free to comment.)
Now let's look at your pro careers to date.
Category Jeff M. Jeff S. Relativity
ERA 2.41 4.55 189
WHIP 1.08 1.51 140
BB/9 2.12 3.53 167
SO/9 8.22 4.67 176
Your numbers have improved dramatically in every category except SO/9. His have gotten a little worse in each. As a result, I would now call the differences HUGE in every category except WHIP (40%), which I would call Very Big.
So here (at last) is the question: do you feel your superior results are
partly due to the Twins conservative approach toward advancement through
their system? Do you feel their agenda for you was too slow, too fast or
- James Mohl
Jeff Manship: I donít know if the comparative results are necessarily correlated to my slower advancement through the system. Samardzija has gone through the Cubs system quickly, but I feel that he is a guy who can continue to improve. He has had it a little rough, but he has great stuff and the toughness to fight through it. Personally, I feel that the Twins agenda has been great. As much as I would like to fly through the system it is very beneficial for me to see each level and learn as much as possible while there. I want to be the best pitcher that I can be if/when I make my debut. I donít want to go up there ill-equipped and get sent back down because I wasnít ready. My goal is more to stay in the majors for as long as possible versus just making it up there
You gave up 7 HR's to his 3 in 2006 at N.D.. But that has turned completely around in the minors. He has allowed 24, you just 9. He's giving up nearly one per 9 IP; you allow one every 3 games. And none at all so far in 2008. So the question is, have you changed anything to become more of a ground ball pitcher? - James Mohl
Jeff Manship: I actually altered my grip on the two-seam fastball during the summer after my junior year at Notre Dame. During negotiations with the Twins I played on a college summer ball team called the Delaware Cows (near Columbus, Ohio) in the Great Lakes League. I was fortunate to work with a great pitching coach in Delaware who taught me to create more sink with the two-seam. My confidence in the pitch has significantly risen as a result and there is no doubt that it has made me a better pitcher..
How much influence does the catcher have on what you throw, and how you pitch? - Mike Wants Wins
Jeff Manship: The catcher can have a good deal of influence on what I throw. I still like to call my own game, but if the catcher sees something that I donít in regard to a hitterís weakness, itís always nice to have help from his end.
What kinds of things does a pitching coach really work on with you, and how much difference can the coaching make in how you pitch compared to your natural ability? - Mike Wants Wins
Jeff Manship: Mechanics are the main issues addressed by the pitching coaches. Usually they wonít try to change too much if things are going well, but if there is a glaring problem in someoneís mechanics they will address it. A coach can make a world of difference with some pitchers. You have to able to listen to the coach and try to implement what he is teaching into your game. I am still a student of the game and have much to learn so I take all the help that I can get from the coaches, especially with the mental aspects. I have been very fortunate to work with some great pitching coaches in my life. Each coach has taught me something different and molded me into the pitcher that I am today.
Have the Twins changed your approach much since you joined the organization, and if so, how hard was it to make that change natural? - Mike Wants Wins
Jeff Manship: The Twins approach is very similar to the approach we learned at Notre Dame so the transition was easy. They both stress the importance of getting ahead of hitters early and staying ahead. A pitcher should try and get a hitter out in 3 pitches or less. I also try to establish the fastball early in the game by throwing both inside and outside to keep the hitter honest.
How many pitchers ahead of you have to get traded before there is any room for you on the Twinsí starting staff? - David T
Jeff Manship: Ha ha I have no idea, but hopefully I can make it up to the Twins on my own without everybody getting traded away. Hopefully I can get up there sooner than later
I heard your curveball is fantastic and I canít wait to see it, what makes it so good and when/how did you develop it? - Nathan P
Jeff Manship: It has been a pitch that I began developing at the age of 10. There is no doubt in my mind that I started throwing that pitch too early and that it lead to surgery. The only positive is that Iíve been able to work with it for a long time now. I feel that the speed of the pitch and its sharpness are factors that make it good. I usually throw it anywhere from 78-82. Sometimes it has a little tilt and other times it is more 12-6. Iím going to try and work on slowing it down at times just to create a better speed differential compared to the other pitches in my repertoire.
Jeff since you went to Notre Dame are you Catholic? - Nathan P
Jeff Manship: I am actually an Episcopal so pretty close to Catholic.
How long until you felt that you were back to "normal" after your Tommy John Surgery? - Josh Johnson, of Josh's Thoughts.
Jeff Manship: I began throwing in games about a year after having the surgery but didnít feel great until about a year and a half. It was a fairly slow progression getting back to normal. I would say that I started feeling ďnormalĒ when I played in the Cape Cod League. I was finally able to throw 5+ innings without tightness or inflammation. I was extremely relieved when I reached 7 innings and felt comfortable throughout the game. As much as I disliked the rehabilitation process, I feel that it taught me so much mentally. During the rehab I was well aware that through hard work I could return back to normal or even improve. I was able to develop a better work ethic and prove to myself that through hard work come good results.
The Devil is
tired of Faustian deals (trade in souls) and wants to try a Faust-Ball deal.
And he finds you.
The devil wants this: when you retire you have to become a White Sox fan for life. In exchange, he offers, either:
(A) You can make it the majors before the end of 2008 and remain in the majors for at least the next 10 years
(B) You can
make it to the majors before the end of 2009 and the devil guarantees you
make at least 3 MLB all-star teams
So my question: Is being a White Sox fan really all that bad?
Jeff Manship: Ha ha with options like that I donít think it would be too hard to be a White Sox fan. I would probably have to choose B, but A is a very compelling choice.
Jeff ~ As early as last July, some Twins fans were advocating for you to be called up at least to AAA, if not the majors. What surprised me about this is the fact that almost everyone that I talked to knew who you were even that early. What is it like being part of an organization where even rather casual fans have enough passion to know the names and stats of A-to-AA-level prospects? - Eric Olson
Jeff Manship: I think itís great that fans are aware of players in the minors. It makes the transition from a minor leaguer to the majors that much better knowing that the fans already have some idea of who you are.
Can you discuss the adjustments that you have had to make as you move up various levels in the minors so far? - Andy D
Jeff Manship: With each increased level obviously come better hitters. Iíve had to mix up my pitches better and get ahead of hitters early. Pitching to hitters in 1-0, 2-0, and 3-1 counts is not the ideal situation. At this level you will get absolutely slaughter if you canít get ahead and stay ahead. I have also seen that as you move up your margin for error is far less. Mistake pitches are hit much harder and much more often.
Any thoughts yet on the differences between the Florida State League and the Eastern League? - Andy D
Jeff Manship: I have already noticed a lot of differences between the two leagues. The hitters are much better as expected. They are more patient and not afraid to hit with two strikes. They also swing at less garbage outside of the strike zone. You have to be able to throw your off speed pitches for strikes, otherwise they will just sit on fastballs and spit on all the slower stuff. I was made well-aware that you canít miss over the plate or it will get crushed during my first game against Portland. That game was a great learning experience for me. It taught me to mix my pitches up better and not to be afraid to throw any pitch in any count. I carried over what I learned into my next start against New Hampshire and produced better results. I threw fewer pitches over the middle and used off speed pitches in counts where I was behind the hitter. The atmosphere is also more energized in this league. I love the towns we play in, and the games attract great crowds. The weather is completely different. While it does rain all the time, the temperature has been very favorable. Iím just glad that the humidity hasnít been too bad up here yet. I left Florida just in time to avoid the sweltering heat, torrential downpours everyday at 5 pm, and brutal humidity. One thing I am going to miss about the Florida State League is the length of the bus trips.
Again, a huge thank you to Jeff for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions. Do you have any thoughts or questions for Jeff Manship or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me.
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