Manship Happy to be Irish

<P>The Notre Dame baseball team picked up a gem in San Antonio, TX prospect Jeff Manship. Manship is a 6-0, 170-pound flame-thrower with a curveball that keeps hitters up at night. Manship is widely considered the top prospect in Texas and one of the top prospects in the entire country. </P>

Jeff Manship is having the kind of season that placed him atop the ranks as one of the best high schools players in baseball. The right-hander is 13-1 with 77 innings pitched. He has allowed 33 hits and has recorded 133 strikeouts. He has only issued 18 walks and boasts a 0.64 ERA for the season. He has also thrown a no-hitter.

As a junior, Manship had another outstanding season. His junior season included an 0.66 ERA, 159 strikeouts, 19 walks and just 19 hits allowed in 74 innings - for nine-inning averages of 19.4 Ks, 2.3 walks and 2.3 hits (8.4 K-to-walk ratio). His 9-1 record included three no-hitters and one perfect game.

Manship knows he has talent and quite a curveball. "I throw in low 90s with my fastball, " said Manship. "I have a pretty good curve. I've developed that over many years and that is probably my best pitch."

Jeff Spellman serves as the editor of TeamOneBaseball.com. Spellman thinks the sky is the limit for Manship. "The centerpiece of the class is Jeff Manship. He could prove to be one of the top-10 players in the country and has the best curveball out there. He is very polished and could make an immediate impact," said Spellman.

Manship is so good many think he has the talent to land in the first round in the major league amateur draft, June 3-4th. Manship was rated 13th by Baseball America in its 2003 projected amateur draft which included college players.

Playing professional baseball is a dream of Manship's but he has his sights set on Notre Dame. "I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity", said Manship. "I want the chance to get that college experience. I want to get my degree and I want to play for Notre Dame. The money just doesn't seem to be there this year so I'm planning on going to Notre Dame."

Manship started having that feeling last September when he took an official visit to Notre Dame for the Notre Dame/Michigan football game. "It was a great game," said Manship. "The fan support was overwhelming and I loved all the guys on the team. I liked everything about Notre Dame. They have a great coaching staff. Knowing Coach O'Connor is one of the best pitching coaches in the country, I know he will take care of me. I loved the school itself. The only drawback is the weather but I know I can handle that."

Pitching coach Brian O'Connor is thrilled to have signed Manship and he thinks he will be something special. "I don't know if there has ever been a pitcher that Notre Dame has signed that has had more accolades than Jeff Manship," said O'Connor. "Jeff has an unbelievable amount of ability. He needs to get stronger but Jeff was pitching between 90 and 94 miles per hour when I scouted him and he has the best breaking ball that I have seen in all my years of scouting."

O'Connor says the professional scouts agree with him. "A lot of professional scout's opinions are that Jeff Manship has the best breaking ball people have seen in 15 years of high school scouting. This kid has an unbelievable breaking ball."

O'Connor feels that Manship can contribute to the Irish pitching staff right away. "This is a kid that I think can come in and have a major impact in our program. He throws strikes; he's pitched at a very high level in high school. He's got velocity, he's got an off-speed pitch, he's got a real working knowledge of what he's trying to do on the mound and I think the sky is the limit for this kid."

The Reagan high school prospect first became interested in Notre Dame while playing for a summer team in Ohio--the Ohio Thunder. "Greg Lopez was my roommate for the team. He told me a lot about Notre Dame and their coaching staff and got me very interested in them. He told the staff that they should look into me so that is how I became interested in Notre Dame."

Manship eventually chose Notre Dame and he's excited about his decision. "I really liked the coaching staff. Coach Mainieri is just a great guy and Coach O'Connor is one of the best pitching coaches in the country. It just felt right and I wanted to be a part of their team. I'm excited about playing for Notre Dame."

The summer is going to be very busy for Manship. He will likely be playing all over the country and the world. "I'm trying out for Team USA," said Manship. "I made the 16 and under team before so I should have a good shot. They take the top 30 players in the nation and build a team. They play a few games here in Florida and then we head overseas to play the top teams in the world. I'm also playing the All-American game in New York City in June." Manship won a gold medal playing with Team USA as a 16-year old as a relief pitcher for Team USA.

Reagan high school will face their toughest challenge of the season on Friday as they face Corpus Christi Moody. Manship will be on the mound for Reagan and he looks forward to the opportunity. "It's a win or go home situation. If we win, we go to the state tournament. If we lose, we go home. I love the challenge and I can't wait for Friday."

Moody also has a budding pitching prospect in sophomore Luis Flores. Flores is 12-0 and Manship will face him as the team's designated hitter. "He's a good pitcher," said Manship of Flores. "He's got best change-up I've ever seen so it should be a good game."

The Irish certainly signed a great prospect in Manship. They also signed a quality kid. He is a National Honors Society member and has a winning personality. Hopefully Irish fans will get to see him on the mound in Eck Stadium very soon.

Notre Dame Sports Information contributed to this story.


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