Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #9 Sean Manaea

9. Sean Manaea Left Handed Pitcher

Age: 22
Position: LHP
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 235
B/T: L/L
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st Round (34th Overall) of the 2013 Amateur Draft
From: Wanatah, IN

Landon Adams (7): The Royals took a calculated risk in last June's draft and early indications are the it could pay off tremendously for Kansas City in the not too distant future. Thanks some strong strategizing, a competitive balance pick, and some good fortune, the Royals were able to who many viewed March as the top talent of the draft, as well as a third baseman that many expected to get picked in the late teens. 

After sweeping the Cape Cod awards at the end of the 2012 season, Manaea emerged as the top candidate to go 1-1 in the 2013 amateur draft. In the Cape, the Indiana State Sycamore product recorded 85 strikeouts in just 51.2 innings of work. This was the highest recorded strikeout total since the league began tracking the numbers in 2000. During that time, Manaea also led the league with a 1.22 ERA, while recording a 5-1 record. 

As the favorite for the top pick heading into 2013, Manaea suffered a torn labrum in his hip as well as an ankle injury. Despite these things, the 6'5" southpaw finished the year with a 1.47 ERA and 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings, ranking fourth in NCAA Division I. The combination of testicular fortitude, results, and the stuff he showed at the Cape empowered the Royals to grant Manaea with a $3.55 million signing bonus. The largest ever given out to a non-first round pick. 

If Manaea comes back with the stuff he showed last season at Indiana State, he's a good bet to rise quick and offer the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. If Manaea can get back to the stuff that he showed in the Cape Cod League in 2012, he has the upside of a top of the rotation starter who would blaze through the system. My scoresheet team is hoping for the latter. Manaea should open the year in Wilmington, but it is a near certainty that he'll finish the season in the upper minors. 

Paden Bennett (12): I was stoked to see that the Royals were able to snag Sean Manaea with the 34th pick in the 2013 draft.  Here is a guy who could have gone as high as 3rd overall if he wasn't dealing with a torn labrum. Manaea has the arm and the stuff to eventually become a top of the rotation kind of guy with his fastball that sits in the low to mid 90's and sometimes even reaching the upper 90's.  The pitch I am very excited to see in person is this slider I'm hearing about.  His slider is one of his plus out pitches along with his split/change.  Manaea boasts a 6-5 235 pound frame with an electric arm and some deception in his delivery.  I am pumped to see what this kid can do and I would love to see him with Zimmer and Ventura in KC very soon.

Joe Cox (9): After the draft pick of Hunter Dozier, it seemed that the Royals had a draft strategy of being able to sign a player of their slot allotment with the 34th overall pick.  They did just that, by drafting and signing Sean Manaea.  Manaea was widely regarded as a guy who could have been a top pitcher picked in the draft, but injuries derailed that allowing the Royals to scoop him up in the supplemental round of the draft.  

Manaea is a 22 year old left-handed pitcher out who played college ball at Indiana State.  Manaea has a big frame that should allow him to hold up as a starter, along with three pitches with plus potential.  He is known to have good command of the plate and has the ability to miss bats with all of his pitches.  Manaea struggled late in his college career due to hip issues but should be ready to see what he can do at the professional level in 2014. 

Dan Ware (12):  The first round of the 2013 Draft turned out even better than expected for the Royals.  Manaea was left untouched all the way to the 34th pick during the supplemental round and Kansas City took advantage, without hesitation.  Baseball America predicted he possessed the ability to go as high as 3rd overall to the Colorado Rockies, who instead chose RHP Jonathan Gray from the University of Oklahoma.  Gray was actually drafted by the Royals in 2010, but chose to enroll in a JUCO to gain more exposure to the starting role.

Manaea has a low 90's fastball that can reach mid 90's at times, an above average slider and a combination split/changeup that he will use.  Although his delivery of 3/4 arm slot can be deceitful to hitters, his secondary pitches are inconsistent at times.  

The Royals plan to take things slow with Manaea, as he had hip surgery in June to repair a torn labrum.  The initial plan I've read is they want Sean to start his pro career in a full season league, which most likely would be either Lexington or Wilmington.  GM Dayton Moore has stated that it's possible he could even stay in Arizona for an extra couple months if he's not 100%.  We'll find out soon enough.

Nicholas Ian Allen (--):  Like most everyone, I am excited to see what Sean Manaea can do in 2014. With his injury concerns, the Royals were able to nab Manaea at number 34 in the draft. If he is able to rebound, the pick may be a steal. It sounds like the big lefty will start in Lexington or Wilmington, but I would not be surprised if he moves quickly through the system. 

Total Points: 84

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