Pro Coug Kyle Manzardo named to Futures Game in Seattle

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, native to represent Tampa Bay Rays in bout of game’s best prospects



Then-freshman infielder Kyle Manzardo waits for an incoming pitch, March 28, 2019.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

Pro Coug Kyle Manzardo will return to the Pacific Northwest with an invitation to the MLB Futures Game, a part of Seattle’s 2023 All-Star Week at T-Mobile Park. Manzardo will represent the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the Futures Game and compete against minor league baseball’s other top talent.

Structured similarly to the major league All-Star Game, the American League’s best prospects will face the National League’s best prospects in a nine-inning game at 4 p.m. July 8. 

The Rays drafted Manzardo in the second round (63rd overall) of the 2021 MLB Draft out of WSU. 

As of Thursday, Manzardo is slashing .249 /.357 /.460 with 34 RBI, 29 runs scored, 10 home runs, 18 doubles and a triple for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

His second full season in professional baseball has been his most challenging one yet. The Rays No. 4 overall prospect (and baseball’s No. 41 overall prospect) per MLB Pipeline is striking out 20% more than he did in his first full professional season.

He is on pace for a professional career-high 125 strikeouts as he is striking out just under 0.9 (0.892) times per game. In 66 games, he has struck out 58 times and walked 40 times. Between high A and Double-A in 2022, he struck out 65 times.

Manzardo’s struggles are an inevitable part of minor league baseball as he has risen in the ranks relatively fast.

At WSU, Manzardo batted .336 with a .937 OPS. He hit 16 home runs, slugged 37 doubles and one triple between two full collegiate seasons, split by a truncated 2020 pandemic season.

When the junior from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho stepped up to the plate in 2021, he had grown leaps and bounds from his freshman year on the Palouse (a perfectly respectable .272 batting season) to a 2021 in which he batted .365 with a 1.077 OPS.

An OPS north of 1.000 in a power five Conference opened the door to a professional opportunity in one of the best organizations in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays.

However, the Rays’ glowing competence means that Manzardo could not see the major league level until next season.

The Rays lead the AL East with baseball’s best record and an All-Star caliber everyday first baseman in Yandy Díaz. They also sport a solid rotation of players at Designated Hitter, resting their legs for half the inning before frequently ripping the ball deep into the outfield.

The Futures Game is an excellent opportunity for Manzardo to meet other top prospects, see family and friends in a return to the Pacific Northwest and get his head right for the second half of the season.

The Futures Game will precede the Celebrity Softball Game as part of MLB All-Star Week in Seattle. All-Star week includes the HBCU Swingman Classic July 7, the MLB Draft Sunday at Lumen Field, the Home Run Derby Monday and the midsummer classic itself, Tuesday at T-Mobile Park.

Manzardo will join Mariners prospects Harry Ford and Jonatan Clase on the AL Futures Game roster.

Coug fans can catch baseball’s brightest pro Coug at MLB Futures Game at 4 p.m. July 8 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.