Today I had the great opportunity to ask Jeff Manship a couple questions. For those of you who don't know Jeff. He is a starting pitcher for the Ft. Myers Miracle, which is the Minnesota Twins High-A affiliate. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 14th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft out of the University of Notre Dame. He is currently participating in the Arizona Fall League with the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
Kevin Lewis: Here with me today is Twins pitching prospect, Jeff Manship. Thanks for joining me today Jeff.
Jeff Manship: Thank you for having me.
KL: When you were growing up as a kid, who was your baseball idol to watch?
JM: I was a big fan of Ken Griffey Jr. when I grew up. Even though the Houston Astros were the closest team I still found myself rooting for the Mariners.
KL: I know your college career didn't start the way you would have liked. You underwent Tommy John Surgery during your freshman year at Notre Dame. What kept you so focused during your rehab? Did you get advice from anyone who had gone through that on how to deal with it? Are at the point where you have gotten your velocity back or is that still on the way up?
JM: I was able to stay focused because I was made aware that through hard work I could return to normal and even have the chance to improve. I had a great trainer at Notre Dame who helped me complete the rehab and always kept me positive. I was determined to come back full strength so I made sure to do everything correctly. Matt Macri was a junior at the time that I was a freshman and dealt with the same injury during his freshman year so it was very helpful having his support and knowledge. Another teammate of mine who is currently with the Brewers organization had Tommy John right around the same time that I had my surgery so we did everything together. We were able to push one another towards recovery. I feel that my velocity is back to normal. In high school I could top out higher, but I would say that I throw harder on average now, which I would much rather possess.
KL: If there was one person who influenced you the most from your Little League days to where you are now, who would that be?
JM: My father has been the biggest influence on me both on and off the field. He taught me how to pitch when I was 10 and continues to provide helpful advice. In addition, my pitching coach during high school and former big league pitcher, Ben Van Ryan, was a very influential person in my life. My brother, Matt, has been very important. He served as a role model throughout my life and continues to be a person that I greatly admire.
KL: What is it like being part of the Twins organiztion and knowing that they have a very good track record of developing young starting pitchers into well-known pitchers around the league?
JM: The Twins organization has been great. The pitching coaches that I have dealt with are very helpful and have taught me a great deal since signing.
KL: You utlitize for pitches and hit the low 90s. What is your best pitch? Would you also consider that pitch your out pitch? Is there one pitch that you are still trying to develop more?
JM: Last year I would have said my slider (which is more of a slurve and pretty much the same thing as my curveball), but this season I would say my curveball is my best pitch. I altered the grip on my slider so that pitch is still a work in progress. I would consider both my curveball and sinker to be my out pitches. The change-up and slider are both pitches that I am trying to fine tune. The change-up has significantly improved and I have developed so much more confidence in the pitch. As I continued to move up level by level it was made more aware how necessary and effective a usable change-up becomes.
KL: Since you will be participating in the Arizona Fall League this season, do you plan on trying to improve the pitch discussed from the last question? Or are you going there just to work on everything overall?
JM: My main focus in Arizona will be to slow down both my change-up and curveball to gain a much wider range of velocties between all of my pitches. If I can get both pitches into the mid to upper 70s I will have accomplished my goal.
KL: If you aren't on the mound and just relaxing, what are some of the things you enjoy doing?
JM: I enjoy playing video games, watching movies, and listening to music which is probably the standard with most minor league players.
KL: Well, that is all I got for now. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy baseball life to answer a few questions about your career. I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis in the very near future. Good luck in 2009 and the future years.
JM: Thanks a lot, and hopefully I will get up to Minnesota soon.