– More than 500 people braved the harsh Minneapolis temperatures on Friday night to watch baseball in the warm cocoon of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. All those in attendance were treated, not only to a respite from the frigid cold, but to a hot matchup bewteen a pair of left handed pitchers in what ended as a
2-1 victory for the visiting Indiana State Sycamores. At least 50 of the attendees represented Major League Baseball's scouting community as the seats behind home plate included numerous cross-checkers and scouting directors.
game pitted Indiana State's Sean Manaea, currently ranked No. 1
among Perfect Game's top draft-eligible prospects, against Tom Windle
(ranked 44th) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. This contest has been circled on the calendar since the 2013 schedules were released last
fall with hopes that the two pitchers would face one another. Needless to say, both players stepped up to the big stage with impressive, complete
was the first complete game in Manaea's college career, who was
coming off an impressive performance over a hard-hitting Mercer team
the week before in which he struck out eight batters in six innings
of work. In that game, Manaea peaked at 95 mph with his fastball in
cold and damp conditions, allowing only two runs on three hits, two
of which were described as “bleeders” by the Perfect Game scouts
hate pitching in the cold,” Manaea said after the game about
pitching in the cozy confines of the Metrodome. “It's probably the
worst thing. Coming here and having nice conditions, and actually
sweating while pitching, was big for me.”
at 6-foot-5, 235-pounds, looks every part of a future staff ace. In
this particular game he once again peaked at 95 mph, working at 92-94 in the
early innings before settling in around 91 mph in the later frames.
He did peak at 94 in the eighth inning, proving that he has the ability
to reach his top velocity deep into games, even if he doesn't
currently sustain it.
his low three-quarters delivery, somewhat reminiscent of Randy
Johnson's, makes his fastball look even harder out of the hand while
pitching on a downhill plane and getting full extension from his
low-80s slider didn't look its' best, but it was still a very
effective pitch with short, sharp break in on the hands of
right-handed batters. He also threw a handful of changeups in the
early innings, but decided to stick to his fastball-slider combo
which led to nine strikeouts.
threw (my changeup) the first couple of innings and they hit two
pretty high fly balls, so me and Coach (Rick Heller) decided not to
throw it,” Manaea said. “I was leaving it up a little bit. I
felt that there wasn't as big of a speed differential between my
fastball as it has been, so I went fastball, slider the rest of the
his changeup wasn't at its' best on this day, the progression of his
secondary stuff, and increased velocity on his fastball, led to
Manaea's eye-opening performance on the Cape last summer which led to
him being named Perfect Game's Summer Player of the Year.
There, Manaea posted “video game” numbers: 5-1, 1.22 ERA, 85
strikeouts, 7 walks and 21 hits allowed in 51 2/3 innings of work.
stuff matched the results, working regularly at 93-96 and peaking at
98 mph, mixing in his sharp slider and usually polished, fading
changeup. He was named the top prospect
in the league, the same distinction he had the year before in the
overall progression has been particularly impressive. In July of
2009 at the 18u National Championship he peaked at 86 mph pitching
for the Hammond Chiefs while in high school. The size was there, as
was the easy arm action, so it was simply a matter of growth and
commitment to improvement.
didn't work out in high school,” Manaea said in answer to the reason for his
dramatic improvement. “Coming to Indiana State they had a workout
regimen that was really big for me. Throwing a lot more, I didn't
throw long toss in high school, I just threw 90 feet. The long-toss
program and working out has been the big reason for the jump in
best part about his development is that it's easy to envision him to
continue to improve given the ease of his delivery. And he doesn't
have hurdles like bad command to overcome, as he pounded the strike
zone and attacked the Minnesota hitters in this game. 87 of the 111
pitches he threw were for strikes, which also allowed him to go the
felt like I was getting a lot of quick outs in this game,” Manaea
said. “The first couple of games I thought I was laboring a
little, like everybody (early in the season). Today I was getting
one pitch outs and it felt really nice (to finish the game).
(Heller) came out and he told me (he was sticking with me) and my
adrenaline shot up and I was ready to go after the next guy. I'm
just glad he let me finish out the game. It was a nice team win.”
first hit Minnesota recorded off of Manaea was a bunt single by Dan
Olinger. The second hit he allowed was a weak tapper off the bat of
catcher Kurt Schlangen that knocked off of Manaea's glove and away
from the second baseman behind him.
was clear the Minnesota team as a whole decided to take as many
pitches early hoping for an early exit for the fire-balling southpaw.
With Manaea pounding the strike zone, the Gophers had to alter their
approach, and were only able to scratch one run across the plate, an
unearned run in the seventh inning.
run scored when Olinger was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a
bad pickoff attempt, and scored on a soft flare to right field off
the bat of third baseman Ryan Abrahamson. All of which occurred with
hardest hit ball hit off of Manaea was a fly out hit deep to left-center
off the bat of shortstop Michael Handel in the fourth inning.
did get interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning. Down
2-1, Minnesota loaded the bases after catcher Kurt Schlangen and Dan
Olinger hit singles that found holes in the infield. Designated
hitter Alex LaShomb drew the only walk Manaea would issue in the game
with two outs, putting Schlangen 90 feet away from tying the game.
After no strike was called with two strikes on a check swing by right
fielder Troy Larson, Manaea skipped a slider in the dirt. Both
Manaea and Schlangen charged home, with the home plate umpire calling
Schlangen out after Manaea received the throw at the plate from his
own catcher, Mike Fitzgerald.
was a controversial way to end the game, as Schlangen appeared to be
safe, but Indiana State fans would argue that game should have been
over the pitch before. Manaea recorded the win, but didn't walk away
ninth inning. I jumped up and down in celebration and rolled my
ankle a little bit. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.”
injury isn't serious as Manaea walked in the tunnels of the
Metrodome with ice wrapped around his ankle.
was a little nervous at first because I haven't really been in that
situation before,” Manaea said of the trouble he ran into in the
ninth inning with a one run lead. “After I got that first out I
kind of calmed down.
second out was really big for me. When the runner got on second
after I walked a guy it kind of got under my skin, but I told myself
to put it back in my head and go after the next guy.”
pickoff move is one noticeable area of his game that needs work. He
holds his leg for an extended period of time as part of his windup,
and it can be argued that when he brings his leg down on throws to
first base his body is moving toward home plate. This was most
evident late in the game as the fans, and Minnesota Head Coach John
Anderson, loudly lobbied for a balk call.
exaggerated leg raise alone is effective, as it prevented the
Minnesota base-runners from getting good leads off of first base.
And if this is the biggest problem with his overall game, he's in
pretty good shape.
was coming off an even more impressive performance
as he took the mound opposite the highly touted Indiana State hurler.
The week prior Windle tossed a no-hitter against Western Illinois,
issuing only one walk while striking out eight batters.
picked up where he left off, once again going the distance against
the Sycamores using an impressive three-pitch repertoire that
included a 91-93 mph fastball in the early innings, a sharp,
short-breaking low-80s slider and an improving changeup. His
velocity dipped to 87-89 in the mid- to late-innings, but he did peak
at 90 in the seventh.
command was impressive, as he too threw a lot of strikes (74 of 114
I'm happy with how I pitched,” Windle said after the game. “Coming
into games like these you just have to take it like another game.
Going up against Sean Manaea that was a battle, but it was just
another game. If any pitcher pitches to their strengths than they
can have a good outing.”
to contact seems to be an area of strength for Windle. Fourteen of
the outs he recorded were on ground balls, as he showed the ability
to pitch in on the hands of right handed batters to induce weak
contact. He only struck out one batter in the game, something that
could change once he continues to grow confidence in his fastball.
Tom Windle nearly matched Sean Manaea pitch-for-pitch.
pretty comfortable throwing (my slider) at any moment,” Windle said
of his three-pitch repertoire. “Sometimes I felt I was throwing
(it) a little low today, but I made some adjustments. I felt
comfortable with my changeup too. That's a feel pitch and that felt
good. Just being confident is probably the biggest key to pitching.”
year Windle entered the season as the team's Saturday starter behind
ace T.J. Oakes. A shoulder injury early in the season caused him to
miss significant time, and when he regained his health later in the
spring he was placed in the team's bullpen.
going 3-5, 3.27 in 18 appearances a year ago, four of which were
starts, Windle is now 2-2, 1.69 on the year, striking out 20 in 32
innings of work while allowing only 19 hits and 8 walks.
did finish the 2012 season strong, and carried that success to the
summer, being named PG's No. 14
prospect on the Cape. He was named the No. 11 prospect in
the Northwoods League the summer before.
think I'm just throwing to my strengths,” Windle said of his
progression from 2012 to this year. “Getting healthy helped a lot.
I always knew I was throwing well, but (toward) the end of the
spring I was throwing well and I took that to the summer. I think I
have the confidence and the ability to pitch.”
in the 28th round by the White Sox coming out of high school in the 2010 draft,
Windle wasn't fully committed to baseball prior to stepping onto
Minnesota's campus. The 6-foot-4,
Windle was also an accomplished hockey player, whose two-sport
schedule made it difficult for him to participate and be seen on a
Manaea, his athleticism is evident on the mound. Windle employs more
of an over-the-top delivery, with clean, repeatable mechanics. He
changes speeds well and is able to move the ball around the zone. On
this day, Windle's slider was sharper than Manaea's, and was the main
reason we was able to induce so many ground balls. It's not a true
swing-and-miss offering, but it is one hitters have difficulty
State scored single tallies in both the fourth and sixth innings.
the fourth, center fielder Landon Curry was hit by a pitch to lead
off the frame. He moved to third on a flare to right field off the
bat of designated hitter Cody Zimmerman, and came home to score on a
sacrifice fly by Fitzgerald.
State's second run came in the sixth on a throwing error by Schlangen
on a double steal, allowing Curry, who reached on a fielder's choice,
to score again.
didn't labor through either inning, and none of the balls were hit
particularly hard off of him. And just when it seemed as though he
may have been running out of steam, he demonstrated his perseverance
by getting out of a pair of late inning jams.
giving up a hard, leadoff single to Indiana State shortstop Tyler
Wampler to open the eighth, Windle struck out the next batter
swinging on a slider, then induced a weak ground ball to Olinger at
first base to begin a 3-6-3 double play.
the ninth he induced another double-play ball after walking the
leadoff batter, Fitzgerald.
allowed only two runs, only one of which was earned, off of four base
hits and a walk.
think that was the limit for today,” Windle said of him taking the
mound in the ninth. “I think they trusted that I could keep the
team in the game for that last inning to get that run in the ninth.
Anderson) just asked how I felt and I said I felt good. I didn't
want to come out of the game.”
taking the hard-luck loss, Windle recognized the intensity on the
was a good game and just a good battle out there.”