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Player Outlook
It was a roller coaster of a 2023 season for Kyle Manzardo, but the dust has settled and he has a chance to compete for a spot in Cleveland's Opening Day lineup. The 23-year-old first baseman/designated hitter came into the year widely considered one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He set new career exit velocity highs (112 mph), but through his first 73 games Manzardo logged an unlucky .238/.342/.442 line that was below average (95 wRC+) in the International League. He was dealing with an off-field issue related to the health of a family member, so his mind understandably may not have always been on baseball. Manzardo, who missed time in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury, was traded at the deadline from the Rays to the Guardians in exchange for Aaron Civale. It was a positive move for his fantasy value, as he pretty clearly profiles as Josh Naylor's long-term 1B/DH counterpart, whereas Tampa Bay is still crowded. Manzardo mashed after the trade (six home runs, .333 ISO, 15.2 K%) in 21 games at Triple-A and also slugged over .500 in the Arizona Fall League. As things stand, Manzardo figures to compete for the big-league roster this spring. He is traditionally much better against righties than lefties, so whenever he makes his big-league debut, it could be on the strong side of a platoon.
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  • Guardians' Kyle Manzardo: Misses out on Opening Day roster

    The Guardians reassigned Manzardo to minor-league camp Monday, Mandy Bell of reports. Manzardo is one of the Guardians' top prospects and was given the chance to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster, but despite slashing .381/.458/.476 over his 13 Cactus League appearances, the Cleveland brass determined that he could use some more development time in the minors. After coming over from the Rays last summer in a deadline deal that sent right-hander Aaron Civale to Tampa Bay, the 23-year-old got on base at a .348 clip at Triple-A Columbus and slugged six home runs in 92 plate appearances, showing the blend of power and on-base skills that could make him a mainstay at first base for the big club for years to come. However, against lefties, Manzardo slashed just .161/.269/.330 between his Triple-A stops with Columbus and Durham, so mastering same-handed pitching may be the final box that he needs to check before getting his first taste of the big leagues.
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  • Guardians' Kyle Manzardo: Could be ticketed for Triple-A

    Manzardo seems likely to begin the season with Triple-A Columbus, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic reports. Josh Naylor is slated to be the Guardians' primary first baseman, but Manzardo seemingly could receive plenty of starts between designated hitter and first base. However, it would appear Cleveland is leaning toward sending the 23-year-old back to Columbus initially. Manzardo is coming off a relatively disappointing season in the minors, although he finished strongly at Columbus (.938 OPS) after arriving via trade from the Rays and carried that over into the Arizona Fall League (.905 OPS). Guardians officials have reiterated how difficult it is to hit in Cleveland in April and how that can hurt the confidence of a young hitter. Perhaps that's factoring into the front office's thinking regarding where Manzardo will begin the season.
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  • Guardians' Kyle Manzardo: Active at Columbus

    Manzardo (shoulder) was activated from Triple-A Columbus' 7-day injured list Wednesday. Manzardo went 0-for-8 with a walk, one RBI and a run scored over three games while rehabbing with the Guardians' Arizona Complex League affiliate. He's now clear to make his Columbus debut following a trade that sent him from the Rays organization. A strong showing with the Clippers could make him an option for a late-season call-up to Cleveland.
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  • Guardians' Kyle Manzardo: Begins rehab assignment

    Manzardo (shoulder) went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored for Cleveland's rookie-level Arizona Complex League affiliate on Friday. Manzardo is beginning a rehab assignment after he had been out of action for over six weeks after sustaining an injury with Triple-A Durham while still in the Rays organization. The Guardians acquired Manzardo in the July 31 trade that sent Aaron Civale to Tampa Bay.
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  • Guardians' Kyle Manzardo: Traded to Cleveland for Civale

    Manzardo (shoulder) was traded from the Rays to the Guardians in exchange for Aaron Civale on Monday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. This one-for-one deal is final, as Manzardo goes from the 64-44 Rays to the 53-53 Guardians. Manzardo has been on the 7-day injured list since July 6 due to a sore left shoulder, per Topkin, but he is expected to return to action soon. He hit .238/.342/.442 with 11 home runs, a 20.8 percent strikeout rate and a .269 BABIP in 73 games for Triple-A Durham before landing on the shelf.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Goes on Triple-A IL

    Triple-A Durham placed Manzardo on its 7-day injured list Monday due to an unspecified issue. Manzardo was recently deactivated after he was selected to play in Saturday's All-Star Futures Game, but he ultimately went unused in the exhibition. The Rays haven't provided an explanation behind why Manzardo didn't play in the Futures Game, though it's worth noting that he exited in the third inning of his most recent game with Durham last Thursday, which may be when he sustained an injury. The first base prospect finished the first half of the season with a .238/.342/.442 slash line and 11 home runs across 313 plate appearances with Durham.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Treading water at Triple-A

    Manzardo is slashing .243/.346/.449 with three home runs and a 28:18 K:BB over his last 30 games for Triple-A Durham. His line for the season (.261/.360/.489) is more impressive than this recent run, but Manzardo's wRC+ is down to 110, which is not an impressive mark for a Triple-A first baseman. He is still one of the better pure hitters in the minors, but given that Manzardo is not yet on the 40-man roster, a promotion to the majors does not appear imminent.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Strong hard-hit rate at Triple-A

    Manzardo is slashing .262/.333/.548 with three home runs and a 10:5 K:BB in 48 plate appearances for Triple-A Durham. The Rays didn't mess around, sending Manzardo to Triple-A this year after he dominated in 30 games at Double-A to close last season. Manzardo also set a career high in exit velocity (111.9 mph) on one of his home runs this season, and his 42.4 percent hard-hit rate is up from the 33.5 percent mark he logged in 2022.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Off to Triple-A

    Manzardo is opening the year at Triple-A Durham, reports. While Manzardo is widely considered to be one of the best hitters in the minors, the Rays had cover to send him back to Double-A for a month or two since he only played 30 games there last season, but they didn't mess around with this assignment. Manzardo's Triple-A teammate Curtis Mead is on the 40-man roster already and likely ahead in the promotion hierarchy, but it's possible Manzardo kicks the door down sometime this summer.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Slugs second homer of spring

    Manzardo went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, four RBI and two runs scored in a Grapefruit League game against the Mets on Sunday. Manzardo wasn't in the lineup with the Rays' regulars, but he did take Carlos Carrasco deep to account for his second homer of the spring. As he has at every stop in his minor-league career, Manzardo has hit well this spring, maintaining a 1.207 OPS across 21 plate appearances. He won't start the season in the majors, but there's a strong possibility Manzardo makes his big-league debut at some point in 2023.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: Bumped up to Double-A

    The Rays promoted Manzardo to Double-A Montgomery on Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 23-year-old first baseman has been a fast climber through the organization, as he'll now move on to his third affiliate since being drafted in the second round of the 2021 first-year player draft. Manzardo decimated South Atlantic League pitching over the first four months of the season, slashing .329/.436/.636 with 17 home runs and a 45:46 BB:K in 275 plate appearances.
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  • Rays' Kyle Manzardo: On power binge in High-A

    Manzardo has hit six home runs while batting .444 over his last 10 games for High-A Bowling Green and is now up to 17 long balls with a .326/.429/.633 batting line on the season. Manzardo came into this season with concerns about his power potential, especially relative to the expectations at first base, but he's been quieting the naysayers. The combination of power and plate discipline is fantasy gold, and that's exactly what Manzardo has offered this year, as his walk rate (16 percent) isn't far behind his strikeout rate (17.2 percent). The 22-year-old will need to maintain this sort of performance at the higher levels of the minors, of course, but he could conceivably get that opportunity soon.
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