Monday, November 9, 2009

Prospect Spotlight: Tommy Manzella

This is the first in our long anticipated Prospect Spotlight series. If you enjoy this post, please email mosquito @ keeping me up half the night [dot] com.

"How about a shout out for Tommy Manzella of Tulane fame. Finally made it to the show and got a hit in his first at bat. Rumor has it that he might be Adam Everett 2.0" -- Brillian Reader Osh - Sept 17, 2009

"GM Ed Wade when asked about Tejada: “At this point, we’re prepared to commit to Tommy Manzella playing shortstop." Tejada could return at 3B" -- the Twittering thumbs of Brian McTaggart - Nov 6, 2009

More Wade, via McTaggart: "Tommy is ready to play in the big leagues, and we think Miggy is capable of playing third base. That's been discussed last year, and we didn't feel it was right to make the move at that point in time. [Geoff] Blum was playing well at third and did a good job and Miggy was doing well at shortstop. It didn't make sense to walk down that path last year." - Nov 6, 2009

The Early Story
According to the Tulane Official Athletic Site, Thomas Samuel Manzella, Jr. was born in New Orleans and sports a hometown of Chalmette, Louisiana. While Tommy was conceivably growing up in Chalmette, the town hosted what I can say with experience was one of the most unique and colorful Mardi Gras parades, Shangri-LA. The Mystic Krewe of Shangri-LA become such a hit in the late 1990's that they were invited to move the parade to New Orleans. With the tough economic times, they had to scale back this year to an "Imperial Stroll" through the French Quarter. If any of our readers have the crazy idea of attending another Mardi Gras, see if Shangri-LA coincides with your trip. The true spirit of Mardi Gras should be firmly embraced by this krewe.

Where were we? Oh yeah, well Manzella was a terrific student and he hit .360 with 3 HR's in his Senior Year. That is showing no power.

His Freshman season at Tulane produced an empty .296 batting average. He only managed 8 walks in 192 plate appearances, again flashing no power with only 6 doubles, 3 triples, & 3 HR's. Tommy did not steal bases particularly well, with 4 steals in 7 attempts.

The next three seasons at Tulane were more impressive. For three straight seasons, from 2003 - '05, NCAA pitchers could not seem to cool him down. His worst batting average those seasons was .311, and he muscled up to hit 80 extra base hits. He never raised his proclivity to walk to an acceptable level, as his college career high of 20 walks came his Senior year in over 310 plate appearances.

Minor Leagues
I want Tommy to be a good major leaguer, but minor league slash numbers of .268/.321/.374 do not lead to great hitting success in the major leagues. Other than showing more doubles power and having sporadic success on the basepaths, Manzella's numbers never suggested adjustments in his hitting approach for improved plate discipline. He even showed less ability to avoid strikeouts as a professional, with a couple of alarming campaigns with 80 and 99 strikeouts.

Next Steps
Indications scream that Manzella will be given a chance at the everyday job for Brad Mills' 2010 Houston Astros. Defensive metrics aren't so available at the minor league level, but you'd think that a guy who can't hit minor league pitching with authority would be a great defensive player. When considering that Manzella is an old rookie, at 27 years old in 2010, a projection of Adam Everett 2.0 may be considered Tommy Manzella's best-case scenario.

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