An Oakdale High School graduate in 2016, Austin Manning was selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft earlier this month. The team that selected him was the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City won the World Series in 2015.
Since graduation Manning has been pitching for the University of Southern California Trojans.
“USC has been great to me. I’ve learned a lot in the classrooms, had some great teammates and built lifelong friendships with them,” said Manning.
He has been studying business at the southern California school.
It was in the 19th round that Manning was selected in the draft.
“Honestly my mom told me that I was drafted. I was at work when I got the news. A few minutes later the Royals contacted me and then the Southern California Area scout reached out to me. It was a surreal moment, and one that I will treasure forever.”
Manning did not have much time to reflect on his future as he boarded an airplane out of Sacramento bound for Arizona to join the team’s player development program.
“The last five days have been crazy,” he said last week. “I flew here (Surprise, AZ) and it has been non-stop; but very fun and exciting. It’s been a weird ride.”
Manning drew interest from multiple teams including Oakland and Seattle. The ball clubs have been pursuing Manning for a while but it was the Royals who grabbed the USC product.
“Teams approached me and said ‘We are going to be drafting you’ but you could never be too sure about it. The Royals were one of the teams to scout me and I am very grateful for the opportunity.”
While in Oakdale, then-varsity baseball head coach Nate Gregory noticed Manning’s potential.
“What an accomplishment,” said Gregory, now coaching at Modesto Junior College. “He is a great young man that always put others before himself. I just got off the phone with him and he is so humble about having this opportunity. He is a testament to believing in yourself. He understands his strengths and always works on his weaknesses as a player.”
Although Manning lived in Brentwood, he returned to Oakdale for his senior season of high school.
“He was a giver, still is. When he was attending USC he would visit Oakdale and help the high school kids, no matter what level they played. He loves Oakdale. I am grateful that he moved back from Brentwood because of the kind of character he brought to his team every day,” said Gregory.
Manning also reflected on his time with the Mustangs: “I was truly blessed to be a part of the Mustang program. That was a special group of guys and we all had the love of the game.”