Evan Petzold | Detroit Free Press
Assuming the 23-year-old doesn’t break spring training on the Opening Day roster, expect him in Triple-A Toledo to begin the season.
“I got to believe at some point during the season, and I’m not going to predict when,” Avila said Tuesday, “but Matt Manning might get his chance this year at the major-league level. That’s going to be an exciting thing to watch.”
DEBUT ON HIS MIND: Matt Manning is ‘ready to go’ for Tigers this season
He has been healthy since October and will report to spring training Wednesday with the team’s pitchers and catchers. The first full-squad workout with position players is scheduled for Monday in Lakeland.
“I’ve done more this offseason than I ever have before,” Manning said in late January. “I’m ready to go. Every day has been very focused. I have one goal, and it’s to get to the big leagues and (then) pitch well there and win a World Series.”
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Manning last competed in an organized game for Double-A Erie in 2019. That year, he posted a 2.56 ERA, 0.980 WHIP, 148 strikeouts and 38 walks through 133⅔ innings in 24 starts. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, but he can turn it up a notch and increase his velocity.
Through four seasons in the minors, Manning has a 3.04 ERA, 1.122 WHIP, 410 strikeouts and 121 walks in 331⅔ innings.
Lefty prospect makes ‘tremendous progress’ in TJ rehab
Left-hander Joey Wentz underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2020 to reconstruct a ligament in his throwing elbow. The 23-year-old is making “tremendous progress,” according to Avila, and is throwing up to 120 feet.
“He’s going to be working out with the club because he’s able to do everything physically,” Avila said. “I’m excited to see him make a full recovery at some point and pitch for us.”
The Tigers acquired Wentz from the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 Shane Greene trade. He made five starts for Double-A Erie that year, logging a 2.10 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 37 strikeouts and four walks in 25⅔ innings.
It’s unclear when Wentz will be able to pitch in games, and Avila won’t put a timeline on his big-league debut. He has a 3.22 ERA, with 395 strikeouts and 144 walks, in 371⅓ innings during his four-year minor-league career.
“It’s a little bit too early to say,” Avila said. “I’m just excited that he’s making great progress. He has not had any setbacks. He looks good, feels good. The trainers are pretty pumped about his progress. But I really can’t predict, and won’t predict, when he’ll be pitching for us. I’m just excited that he’s making good progress and hoping for the best there.”