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"He's been outstanding. I can't ask for anything more from Charlie. Sometimes I have to stop myself from using him too much," said Trenton Manager Bill Masse. "I put Charlie out there in any situation and have complete confidence he'll get the job done."
Charlie Manning is in his second stint with the Yankee organization. The team originally drafted him in 2001 before sending him to Cincinnati in the Aaron Boone trade in 2003. After his short stay in the Reds organization, he was dealt back to New York in 2004 along with relief pitcher Gabe White.
Manning has become a Double A veteran of sorts spending the last three seasons with Norwich (former AA affiliate of the Yankees) and Trenton. But for Manning, things have finally started to click this year. As of May 13th, Manning is sporting a 1.11 ERA in just over 24 innings of work.
"I really worked hard in the off season to sure up my mechanics. That's made a world of difference," said Manning. "Since my mechanics have been so good, I've been able to throw a bunch of strikes and my confidence has skyrocketed."
Manning and Masse agree that the development of his slider has been key to his early season success and growth as a pitcher.
"Dave (Thunder pitching coach Dave Eiland) and I worked hard on my slider in the spring and since we broke camp. It has been ridiculous how much it has helped me," said Manning.
"He's got a good cutter and his slider has really gotten good. Last season he actually struggled against left-handed hitters but this year with the slider ,he's been really good against the lefties," said Masse.
His growth as a pitcher has really shined through this year, making many believe he may very well have a future in the majors as a left-handed specialist. So far this season he has baffled most lefties he's faced, posting a 0.71 ERA against Eastern League lefties.
"I think this season I just went back to a very basic approach when I face lefties," said Manning. "I just try to work the outside of the plate and let them try to get themselves out by rolling over or popping up a pitch."
Along with his strong work against lefties, Manning has been 'Mr. Clutch' for the team. He has held opponents to a .158 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .111 batting average with runners in scoring position with two outs.
"The biggest thing is to throw the first strike," said Manning when asked about his performance when inheriting runners. "The biggest thing in baseball is to get ahead of hitters. If you're ahead in the count it makes everything a lot easier because you have the option of throwing any pitch you want."
If there's one knock on Manning it is his velocity. The reliever's fastball usually tops out in the mid 80's. Masse believes if Manning had about three more MPH on his fastball he could be in the majors as soon as today.
"The only thing I could name as a weakness is his velocity," said Masse. "He only throws around 86 mph. If he threw 89 mph he could be in the big leagues tomorrow. All the velocity aside though, he gets bad swings. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a guy's stuff by looking at the opposing players' swings and Charlie gets a lot of bad swings."
Manning realizes he will never resemble hard throwing lefty relievers like Billy Wagner, but he feels if he can continue to develop his off speed pitches, he will contribute at the big league level one day.
"I'm working on a changeup, and my slider is still a work in progress so hopefully it will just continue to get better and better," concluded Manning.
With his mental makeup, and uncanny knack to excel in any situation, the future looks nothing but bright for Charlie Manning and maybe one day he'll be known as the Yankees' 'Mr. Everything'.
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Mr. Everything, Charlie Manning
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