Player: Sean Manaea
Drafted by: Kansas City Royals (No. 34 Overall)
DOB: 2/1/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6'5"/235 lbs
School: Indiana State
Previously Drafted: Never drafted
A three-year starter at Indiana State, Manaea has been the best and most consistent for the Sycamores during his time at the school. He has led the pitching staff in strikeouts all three years he has been there, including a career-best 115 in 2012 when he was a second-team All-MVC selection.
Despite his success on the mound, Manaea had very little draft hype until his stint with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012. The tall left-hander dominated the best college hitters in the country, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.22 ERA and an astounding 85 strikeouts in 57.1 innings en route to being named the top pitcher and outstanding pro prospect.
Thanks to Manaea's showing in the Cape Cod League, he became the hot name to watch in this draft class as an overpowering southpaw with the ability to miss bats, command three pitches and move quickly through a system.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is average, with the current score first and projected score second.
Big, durable workhorse frame that should hold up over 200-plus innings; delivery is clean with some excess movement in wind-up, making him slow to home plate but showing no real command problems; generates velocity with solid arm speed and big step toward home plate; late release allows ball to explode on hitters; low three-quarter delivery creates some extra movement on all pitches.
One reason Manaea really came onto the scene last summer was the quality of stuff he was showing starting with the fastball; heater routinely hit 95-96 but hasn't been as good this year, dropping a full grade to the 89-93 range; despite three-quarter delivery, fastball lacks significant movement though will occasionally run in on left-handed hitters; pitch could gain velocity working with professional coaches, making it the potential plus offering it was last year.
The other knockout pitch for Manaea last summer was the slider, which has also taken a step back this season; pitch needs to be thrown more to be a consistent strikeout weapon; lacks hard tilt and break from last year; sits in the low 80s consistently; delivery diminishes shape as he wraps his arm around it rather than staying on top; if there is more velocity and consistent release point, could turn into above-average offering.
Worst of his three pitches; usually works in the 79-83 range, too similar to slider; arm speed is good, shows no noticeable difference from fastball on release; too straight; hitters can slow bat down and tee off unless pitch is being located precisely; changing grip at next level could give it some downward movement to keep hitters off balance.
Excellent control of all three pitches; throws strikes consistently with good feel for the zone; challenges hitters around the plate, changing eye levels with fastball and mixing in off-speed stuff.
Ability to spot the ball where he wants, drifts from time to time; walked 25 in 68.1 innings during the regular season; utilizes fastball well and deception in delivery makes off-speed stuff more difficult to read out of his hand; long wind-up can be difficult to maintain from pitch to pitch, but strong finish helps keep ball away from bat barrel.
MLB Player Comparison: Madison Bumgarner
Projection: No. 3 starter on second-division team or back end starter on first-division team.
MLB ETA: Late 2015
Chances of Signing: 55%
Manaea needed a strong finish to bring his stock back up after battling some hip issues and overcome the drop in his stuff over the last 10 months. It is not implausible to think of a scenario where the lefty tries to rebuild his stock as a senior, especially with Scott Boras as his representative, but considering where he has gone after threatening to be the top player in this class just 10 months ago, the odds of him turning down a million dollar contract right now and risk more diminishing returns next year are small.