Jeff Manship is currently in the Arizona Fall League playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. He also has a blog hosted by MLB.com. I’m sure he is insanely busy, but he took the time to answer a few of my questions, for which I am extremely grateful.
I was set on going to college out of high school instead of signing a professional contract. Getting drafted by the Diamondbacks was more of a courtesy pick than anything. They were well aware that there was no chance that I would sign. I felt that going to college before signing a pro contract was in my best interest. It allowed me to mature both physically and mentally and better prepare myself for the grind of pro ball. Its also nice to have a college degree in case something happens where my career with baseball comes to an end.
When I was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round I was ready to sign. The Twins were aware of what I wanted and were willing to negotiate with me.
Notre Dame actually came into the picture late. I didn’t know too much about the program, but after I went on my official visit it was clear to my parents and I that Notre Dame was the right fit for me. Since graduating, I am so happy that I chose Notre Dame. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I really don’t think I had an ideal situation in mind. I was mainly looking for a school with great academics and a solid baseball program.
Pro baseball is unlike any other baseball that I have played. The season is much longer and much more demanding of your body and mind. I didn’t play for too long after signing because I went back to school so I didn’t receive the full experience of pro ball until the next season. I was very happy that I did get a small introduction because I felt it better prepared me for my first full season. It was great getting to meet numerous players within the organization along with members of the Twins’ front office. Going into spring training the next year was much easier since I wasn’t considered the new guy anymore.
The difference between Beloit and Ft. Myers was not as noticeable as the difference between Ft. Myers and New Britain. In A ball there are a couple really good hitters in each line-up, and you can afford to make more mistakes. In AA, mistakes get hit often and get hit hard. You have to have confidence in throwing any pitch in any count, otherwise the hitters will just sit on fastballs.
I began pitching when I was 10 because our little league all-star team needed a pitcher. I had been a middle infielder up until then, but once I got a taste of pitching I knew that was what I wanted to do. I still split time between pitching and playing infield up until college, but never really enjoyed myself in the infield. I never felt completely comfortable like I did on the mound. I’ve pitched in both relief and starting roles, but would much rather be a starting pitcher. I like being on my own timetable to get ready before games and knowing which day I will throw during the week.
I would much rather have started in New Britain, but I completely understood why I was back in Ft. Myers. The Twins feel that each pitcher should get a solid number of innings in at each level and experience success. It allowed me to build up my confidence going into AA and improve my change-up, which was very necessary for the transition. It was also nice starting the season in a warm environment versus the cold of New Britain.
I feel that I have a solid ability to throw all of my pitches for strikes. My curveball has always been my best pitch, but I feel that my change-up and slider have greatly improved. In addition, I feel that I have a good mound presence and keep my cool even when things are going bad. My dad has had the greatest impact on me. He was the person who taught me to pitch and there is no doubt in my mind he is the reason I’m where I’m at today.
I play a lot of video games and enjoy hunting and fishing.
After the Arizona Fall League is done, I plan on returning to Texas to begin my off season workouts.