We’ve seen many of the top prospects for the Detroit Tigers perform at elite levels as we enter the midway point of the minor league season. We’ve also seen one soon-to-be Tigers’ prospect continue to deliver promise while still in the college ranks.

Monday marks another bright moment for the Tigers and big step forward for both the organization and one of their highly-touted prospects. 19-year-old Matt Manning — the club’s No. 1 overall prospect at the start of the season, is slated to begin his 2017 campaign and start for the Class-A short-season Connecticut Tigers.

While it has not been officially announced by the club (still says ‘TBD’ on the official website), all signs point to Manning starting Monday night, or this week at the very least.

The No. 9 overall selection in the 2016 MLB Draft was assigned to extended spring training down in Lakeland shortly before Opening Day, rather than begin the year with Class-A West Michigan. The club opted for the 19-year-old two-sport athlete to continue fine-tuning his mechanics and repertoire before officially starting the season.

Connecticut officially released its Opening Day roster on Monday, and Manning was among the more notable names listed. Also on there is Detroit’s second-round pick from last week’s MLB Draft, Reynaldo Rivera, and first-year manager and former Tigers catcher, Gerald Laird.

The teenager has gradually continued to adjust since signing his professional contract last summer instead of going to play basketball and/or baseball at Loyola Marymount University. But he says the stay down in extended spring training has done wonders for him.

“Yeah, I thought I’d be ready to go, but I also knew they had a plan for me and they knew what they were doing,” Manning said during a Saturday phone conversation (with Lynn Henning of The Detroit News), a day after he arrived at Norwich.

“I thought it was good, a really good time,” said Manning, who would have been off to Loyola Marymount on a basketball/baseball scholarship had he not signed with the Tigers last June for $3.5 million. “I was able to pitch and work on my pitches, just kind of mature as a pitcher. I had time to learn and to get better.”

Manning made 10 starts for the Tigers’ rookie level club last summer after signing his pro contract. He allowed 18 runs (13 earned) in 29.1 innings, good for a 3.99 ERA. He compiled a pretty solid K:BB ratio as well, better than 6 to 1.

As is the case with almost all prospects, Detroit will be extra careful with Manning’s development. But they do like that given he was a dual-sport athlete in high school and not just baseball-heavy, there is not as much wear-and-tear on his arm early on, leaving more room to durability and finesse, even for the hard-throwing right-hander.

The Norwich, CT-based Tigers club begins their New York-Penn League play on Monday.

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