Everything you need to know about No. 2 prospect Manzardo

May 6th, 2024

CLEVELAND — This is the day Kyle Manzardo has been dreaming about since he would leave baseball practice as a kid and go with all of his friends to a teammate’s house and spend the rest of the evening playing wiffle ball in the backyard in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

“To kind of see it all come to fruition has been a very unique feeling — a good feeling,” Manzardo said.

Manzardo, the club’s No. 2 prospect and No. 52 overall according to MLB Pipeline, reported to Columbus on Sunday afternoon, expecting to play first base. He was told that he needed to be kept out of the lineup because, depending on the results of Steven Kwan’s MRI, he could be heading to the Majors.

After the game, he was called into Columbus skipper Andy Tracy’s office, who informed him that the team decided to go another direction. After a brief scare, Tracy admitted that he was joking and let the 23-year-old first baseman know that his dream was about to come true.

Guardians fans have been waiting for this news since Manzardo dazzled in Spring Training, hitting .381 with a .934 OPS, two doubles and two RBIs in 13 Cactus League games. Now, everyone is anxious to see if this will translate to the Major League level.

Here’s everything you need to know about Manzardo heading into his debut as a designated hitter, batting seventh on Monday.

What kind of hitter is Manzardo?Let’s let Manzardo and his new manager, Stephen Vogt, answer that for us.

“I try to take kind of a balanced approach,” Manzardo said, “take my walks and my singles when necessary, but I’m also looking to really impact the baseball and drive it.”

“Very good hitter with power,” Vogt said. “He manages his bat well and he can hit the ball out of the yard if a pitcher makes a mistake.”

How has he done in Triple-A Columbus?The Guardians couldn’t have asked for a better start from Manzardo. In 29 games, he hit .303 with a 1.017 OPS, nine homers, 20 RBIs, 15 walks and 22 strikeouts. Eight of those home runs, six doubles and 14 of the RBIs came in the last 14 games alone.

He’s shown improvements with his footwork on defense and he has had better success against left-handed pitching, which were his two main focuses coming into the season. There were no boxes left for him to check before getting this promotion.

What are the signs that tell us his success will translate to the Major League level?Vogt has only watched Manzardo for a few weeks in Spring Training. The Guardians have only known him since they acquired him in July from the Rays for pitcher Aaron Civale. There’s no crystal ball to know exactly how this will play out, but from what the organization was able to see in Arizona this spring, the group was blown away by the maturity of his at-bats, which made everyone confident that he was ready for the Majors.

What’s the defensive plan for Manzardo?For now, Manzardo is expected to primarily DH and mix in at first base whenever Josh Naylor isn’t there. The Guardians also asked him when he last played in the outfield (to which he responded, “It’s been a while”) and are going to get him some reps out there during practices to see if that’s a possibility.

Is there concern about him losing out on development if he’s just DH’ing?“I think Kyle’s a good enough baseball player and [our infield coaches] are going to work him at first base to where he’s ready to go,” Vogt said. “… I think Kyle can handle it and he’s able to put the work in and stay sharp.”

Why now?Kwan is expected to be out for four weeks with a left hamstring strain. That opened up a roster spot to get Manzardo to the big leagues. Prior to this, the Guardians have struggled to make room for Manzardo on the active roster.

This lineup is so lefty-heavy that sending down a bat like Gabriel Arias or parting ways with Ramón Laureano wasn’t high on Cleveland’s to-do list. And the team is still learning about Estevan Florial and isn’t ready to cut ties with him just yet to get Manzardo’s lefty bat on the roster.

Does he know the fanbase has been begging for him to get to the Majors?“A little bit, yeah,” Manzardo said with a grin. “It means a lot to have that kind of support when you’re first starting out.”