Kyle Manzardo: Rays 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year

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The Rays felt pretty good about drafting Washington State first baseman Kyle Manzardo in the second round in 2021.

They feel even better seeing what the sweet-swinging lefthanded hitter did in his first full pro season.

In 93 games this season, split between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery, Manzardo hit .327/.426/.617 with 22 home runs, 59 walks and 65 strikeouts.

“Our group evaluated Kyle as one of the more advanced hitters in his class when we drafted him, and that certainly helped him progress (to Double-A) as quickly as he did,” said Carlos Rodriguez, Rays vice president of baseball operations, overseeing player development.

“Since then, Manzo has built on his strong foundation by learning when to take chances early in the count and make quick adjustments from one at-bat to the next, or even pitch to pitch.

“His willingness to challenge himself, be coachable and make adjustments give us confidence that he will keep getting better.’’

Though the Rays’ focus is on Manzardo’s bat, he continues to work to get better at first base.

“He wants to be a complete player and he has been committed to putting in the time to improve his defense,’’ Rodriguez said. “Over the course of the season, we saw meaningful gains with his hands, range and mobility around the bag.’’

An early August promotion to Montgomery didn’t slow him down. In 30 games in the pitcher-friendly Southern League he hit .323 with five homers and 26 RBIs, drawing 14 walks against 19 strikeouts.

The Rays think Manzardo, who signed for an under-slot $747,599, can do a little more.

And they can’t wait to see him show it.

“He still has room to get stronger and more explosive,’’ Rodriguez said of the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Manzardo. “And this is something we feel will continue to elevate his ability on both sides of the ball.’’

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