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  • Twins MLB Draft Profile: Sean Manaea, SP

    Who IS This Guy?

    He might have the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in this year's draft class. A few years ago Sean Manaea was a raw high school kid with bad grades and no first-round aspirations, but now at age 21 he's in the conversation to become the first lefty pitcher drafted No. 1 overall since David Price in 2007.

    At 6'5" and 230 lbs, Manaea has the ability to reach the mid-90s from the left side, making him a rare specimen. He has progressed rapidly in three seasons at Indiana State University, adding new pitches to a repertoire that essentially consisted of onlya fastball when he first arrived on campus. He reportedly learned a split-change from a teammate late in his sophomore season, right before participating in the Cape Cod League, where an incredible showing sealed his billing as an elite draft prospect.

    Pitching in that collegiate summer league last year, Manaea struck out 85 hitters in 57 1/3 innings and walked just seven while registering a microscopic 1.22 ERA. He received the CCL's Outstanding Prospect Award, which in the past has gone to such players as Matt Wieters, Mark Teixeira and Billy Wagner.

    Manaea is following up that sterling performance with his best season yet at Indiana State. Through 12 starts, he's 5-4 with a 1.47 ERA and 93-to-27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings.

    Who Could He Be?

    With his size and velocity, Manaea offers what baseball evaluators crave. A scout quoted in one article marveled: "You really don't see lefties throw that hard. They're considered freaks and when you see someone projectable to be huge, like him, that's what you're looking for."

    He's grown so much -- both physically and mentally -- in his three years at college that it's difficult to put a cap on Manaea's upside. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve certain aspects of his game, he's got everything it takes to be a fast-tracked, top-of-rotation MLB starter.

    How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?


    The history of collegiate pitchers taken in the top five picks portends an accelerated timetable. Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen and Trevor Bauer, who were taken successively with the top three picks in the 2011 draft, are all either in the majors or knocking on the door two years later. Kevin Gausman, the LSU right-hander who went fourth overall last year, is already in Double-A and dominating.

    Then again, Manaea can hardly be described as polished. He's still refining his secondary pitches and is said to have some issues with repeating his delivery and controlling the run game. His estimated time of arrival is probably a bit further off than fellow highly ranked collegiate hurlers Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel, but 2014 is not out of the question if things shake out right.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up Because…

    Manaea has all the physical attributes needed to become a dominant big-league pitcher but there are some questions regarding his personality and maturity. He's an extremely laid-back guy who nearly missed eligibility for college due to poor high school grades, which he admits were "due to pure laziness." He's come a long way since then, but will he be able to embrace the work ethic required to become an elite player at the pro level?

    Additionally, Manaea has exhibited some issues this year that have dropped his stock a bit. Hip soreness caused him to miss some time and, while he flashed 95 mph heat in the Cape Cod League last summer, he's been clocked more frequently in the low 90s this season. Velocity drops are always somewhat alarming for a player his age.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It Because…

    The southpaw profiles as exactly what the rebuilding Twins need: a high-upside arm with the potential to be major-league ready pretty quickly. Although he isn't as advanced as some of the other pitchers available, Manaea has all the traits you'd like to see in a top draft pick and would be an excellent addition to Minnesota's suddenly burgeoning core of pitching prospects.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins MLB Draft Profile: Sean Manaea, SP started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Manaea was always a catch 22. If he dominated he wouldn't be around for the Twins at 4. If he struggled at all he became a risk for the Twins at 4. I'm hoping he really shows increase velo in his last couple starts before the draft.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Yeah, the velo drop could turn out to be a blessing in disguise because at one point it seemed there was no chance he'd fall to No. 4. Now some people make it sound like he'd be a reach there. I personally am a big fan; I think under the tutelage of pro coaches he will turn into quite a player. But any time a 21-year-old loses several ticks on his FB you've got to wonder about underlying shoulder/elbow issues.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Yeah, the velo drop could turn out to be a blessing in disguise because at one point it seemed there was no chance he'd fall to No. 4. Now some people make it sound like he'd be a reach there. I personally am a big fan; I think under the tutelage of pro coaches he will turn into quite a player. But any time a 21-year-old loses several ticks on his FB you've got to wonder about underlying shoulder/elbow issues.
      I think this logic is a little flawed. Manaea didn't have a velocity drop but more of a spike in velocity in the cape cod. Manaea never threw in the mid 90s before the cape and hasn't thrown in them since. He wasnt much of a prospect till his velocity spike. Quoting Keith Law;

      "Manaea was nowhere on the prospect map until he went to the Cape Cod League last summer and started hitting 96 with a plus slider, putting up numbers that rival those of the best pitchers in the Cape League's history, including 85 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings against just seven walks and 21 hits."

      Personally I don't think the injury is to blame but more of regressing to the mean. While you are right that he definitely has upside he also brings a ton of risk for a college guy.
    1. B Richard's Avatar
      B Richard -
      Is velocity something where a pitcher can even "regress to the mean?" To me that doesn't make sense. You can gain velocity over time and lose it gradually. Maybe a mechanical change? I just don't see a "velocity spike" as a normal occurrence. I have almost no knowledge of any pitcher whose peak velocity spiked briefly only to drop back.
    1. Brodin4Calder's Avatar
      Brodin4Calder -
      I think the Twins may draft him just because he is more ready than Stewart.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I wouldn't quit being a Twins fan if they took him. But projecting him to be here in 2014? With this team? No chance. Gibson can't even make the rotation over Hernandez.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think CMB nailed it. Add in that Boras is his agent and I think the Twins go another route. Apparently, the Twins are big on Stewart who has an amazing ceiling (arguable the highest in the draft) and has all the intangibles (competitive, athletic as hell, good character) you'd want.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      How much of the spike in velo is due to fast guns on the Cape? You rarely see a guy have that kind of a short-term spike without at least showing that velo at times afterward. Guys sometimes dial it back in college, but "touch" their former velo when needed. If that's the case now, it represents another level of maturity: don't throw harder than you need to to get guys out.

      Most of the mocks I've seen have the Rockies taking Manaea. That leaves the Twins with a choice between Bryant, Stewart, Frazier and Meadows. If that's the choice, Bryant is the best fit for this team, imho. It would be great to have this pick become part of the next wave of talent, which should arrive between now and the end of 2015.

      But Stewart has the highest upside of those four. So if they pick on upside alone, I think they'll take Stewart. The dark horse is Meadows, whom the Twins are known to be high on and might consider a better risk because of Stewart's diabetes. A Hicks, Buxton, Meadows outfield would be sick.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      They need pitching! Where will the 5 starters come from if you keep passing on (Gausmann/Appel) great pitchers in the top 5? College relievers? If Stewart is there, take him. If it is between Manaea and Bryant, you need to decide if Manaea can be a 2-3 type pitcher. If so, how do you pass on another pitcher?
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      They need pitching! Where will the 5 starters come from if you keep passing on (Gausmann/Appel) great pitchers in the top 5? College relievers? If Stewart is there, take him. If it is between Manaea and Bryant, you need to decide if Manaea can be a 2-3 type pitcher. If so, how do you pass on another pitcher?
      I don't think you draft based on need. I have no qualms with drafting Buxton last year. Think of how much pitching we were able to acquire with Revere. On a scale of 1-10, Revere is a 6 at best. But that is how desperate teams are to get young center fielders. Buxton is a 9--probably the most talented outfield prospect we've ever had.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      Personally I don't think the injury is to blame but more of regressing to the mean.
      That's not really how pitch velocity works.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      They need pitching! Where will the 5 starters come from if you keep passing on (Gausmann/Appel) great pitchers in the top 5? College relievers? If Stewart is there, take him. If it is between Manaea and Bryant, you need to decide if Manaea can be a 2-3 type pitcher. If so, how do you pass on another pitcher?
      I know you don't like it but best player available is the right method. That said, in this draft I think Bryant is the only bat that the Twins might have in their top 6 (Gray, Appel, Bryant, Stewart, Shipley, Manaea) so it's very likely you get your pitcher.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by B Richard View Post
      Is velocity something where a pitcher can even "regress to the mean?" To me that doesn't make sense. You can gain velocity over time and lose it gradually. Maybe a mechanical change? I just don't see a "velocity spike" as a normal occurrence. I have almost no knowledge of any pitcher whose peak velocity spiked briefly only to drop back.
      As a sophomore Manaea threw 105 innings and his fastball was in the 89-93 range. As a junior he has thrown about 75 innings and from my knowledge hasn't hit over 94. For the 50ish innings he pitched in the cod he was in the 92-96 range. To me that says he out performed in the cape cod league and was bond to come back to earth.

      Why was he throwing harder in the cape? That's a multi million buck question. Hot radar guns, better conditioning, passed and present injury problems, mechanical issues, or who knows. Also, the length of his outings could effect his velocity as we see with relief pitchers all the time. I just don't think it is safe to assume he will regain his cape cod form.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I know you don't like it but best player available is the right method. That said, in this draft I think Bryant is the only bat that the Twins might have in their top 6 (Gray, Appel, Bryant, Stewart, Shipley, Manaea) so it's very likely you get your pitcher.
      If you don't think Manaea is a legit 2-3 type, I'd be ok with taking Bryant. I've typed that here before. but if you never draft pitchers high, then you have to be willing to use other channels. For the first time, they dealt young players for other young players. I'm not convinced May is any good, but Meyer might be. But as long as you REFUSE to use FA to get legit pitching, you need to use your opportunities in the draft to get it.

      As much as people here love buxton, he's in low A, and years away (he's not consistent, he has to do it at least two times through the teams, he has to stay down for the good of the affilate.......). Gausmann will be starting in the majors this year, and looks like he has a chance to be better than ANY pitcher in the Twins system. Oh, and they also passed on Appel.....Are you sure that Buxton is the BPA from last year? He might be, but to say we know the BPA with such certainty that people say it is a stretch, imo.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If you don't think Manaea is a legit 2-3 type, I'd be ok with taking Bryant. I've typed that here before. but if you never draft pitchers high, then you have to be willing to use other channels. For the first time, they dealt young players for other young players. I'm not convinced May is any good, but Meyer might be. But as long as you REFUSE to use FA to get legit pitching, you need to use your opportunities in the draft to get it.

      As much as people here love buxton, he's in low A, and years away (he's not consistent, he has to do it at least two times through the teams, he has to stay down for the good of the affilate.......). Gausmann will be starting in the majors this year, and looks like he has a chance to be better than ANY pitcher in the Twins system. Oh, and they also passed on Appel.....Are you sure that Buxton is the BPA from last year? He might be, but to say we know the BPA with such certainty that people say it is a stretch, imo.
      I understand what you are saying, I really do. And I agree that a future rotation of Gausman, Gibson and Meyer would be a crap load of fun. But I do think a team should draft BPA - whoever/however they decide that. Need should be a tie breaker. In this draft, I expect we draft Stewert. Rockies seem to be in love with Bryant so he won't slip to #4.

      And yes, Buxton was clearly the BPA in last years draft. That was the nearly consensus opinion of prospect watchers. And while Gausman is killing it at AA, Buxton's even better at his level. He's 19 and the best player in low A. He'll be a top 5 prospect in baseball next year. He was worth it.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      How much of the spike in velo is due to fast guns on the Cape? You rarely see a guy have that kind of a short-term spike without at least showing that velo at times afterward.
      The Cape guns may have been fast but surely the scouts watching knew of the accuracy. Fast guns also wouldn't explain his utter dominance over the hitters. I think that was more impressive than any velocity.

      Still, I think this is a rare occurance where the HS arm is the safer pick. From the sound of it, I don't know that Manaea needs less developmental work than Stewart. Both of them may need to be broken down quite a bit to be built back up properly.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I am not saying Buxton might not be worth it, but the certainty everyone has is a bit much for me. He's in low A. And plenty of prospect watchers liked Appel more last year. Tell me how you get pitching if you refuse to draft it early.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      What does any one know about the 18 year old Salazar?
      97mph fb and 3 additional pitches..
      Not saying he should be taken #1 , but i fail to how he can be ranked so low?
      Anyone have more insight on him ?
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I am not saying Buxton might not be worth it, but the certainty everyone has is a bit much for me. He's in low A. And plenty of prospect watchers liked Appel more last year. Tell me how you get pitching if you refuse to draft it early.
      They picked JO last year at 32, Bard later in the supp round, have the 43 pick in a very deep college pitching class this year, and traded for Meyers/May. A top 5 pick should be a franchise changing player, not a big league average player. Is Manaea a franchise changing pitcher? He could be. Law agrees with Mr.Nelson in the fact Manaea could be special if people can find that Cape cod magic again:

      "Manaea profiles more as a league-average big-league starter right now, but a team that thinks he can recapture his look from the summer of 2012 might take him higher than that in the draft"

      Was the Cape Cod performance a mirage? I have no idea but you know the Twins front office has done their homework and if they take Manaea at 4 they think he is legit.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Bard? I don't drafting injured college relief pitchers fixes your system's lack of MLB starters. How's that working so far, the relievers they drafted?

      How is a 2-3 starter a "big league average player", exactly? How many do the Twins have on their roster (or did they have last year)? I'm not saying I know if Manaea is that good or not, all I'm saying is that if you keep passing on guys that might be that good, it is pretty darn hard to have 3, let alone 5, good starting pitchers. Darn hard.

      And it's great that they finally traded young players to get higher upside prospects, but I'm not exactly counting the birds yet.....as May appears to be an awful lot like last year so far. And both are in AA, and not even close to Gausmann or what Appel will be.

      I still think if you think Manaea will be no worse than a number 3 (which is not league average, but much better than that), then you take him, unless you like Stewart more, which I do. Though, I will admit to being intrigued by Bryant. But I think the choice will be between Stewart, Manaea, and HS position players.
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