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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. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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.
      May 2012: ERA 4.87, WHIP 1.45, HR/9 1.3
      May 2013: ERA 3.96, WHIP 1.36, HR/9 0.6

      If you don't want to count birds on a AA arm, why would you count them on a couple of draft picks?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Because Appel and Gausmann were much more likely to be good than May or Meyer. Sometimes scouting indicates things, and in this case, scouting indicated that for Appel and Gausmann. But it is not that sure for Manaea, so I'd be more ok with taking Bryant if Appel and Gray are gone, and maybe, though only maybe, if Steward is there.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      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 ?
      Carlos Salazar was relatively unknown up until about a year ago, had a foot injury and missed exposure time. Has a huge fastball but is still pretty raw. Shows a feel for a breaking ball, but doesn't really have a changeup or other offspeed pitch. Starter vs reliever question. Heard comps to Javy Guerra. High ceiling/low floor, makes him a risk before Round 2.
    1. Wanklenuts's Avatar
      Wanklenuts -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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)
      A number 3 starter is the definition of league average. If 1s and 2s are above average and 4s and 5s are below average, then number 3s are league average.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wanklenuts View Post
      A number 3 starter is the definition of league average. If 1s and 2s are above average and 4s and 5s are below average, then number 3s are league average.
      Welcome to the board!

      Not true at all, not even close. That's not how averages work at all. The majority of starters are 4s or 5s, there are only about 10 number 1s in all of MLB, and probably 20-30 number 2 starters at most, I have not counted lately. There are a like number of number 3 starters. But compared to other starters, number 3 starters are well above the "average" starter. For example, I'd say the Twins have zero number 3 starters on their MLB roster right now, Diamond might be, but I don't know if that is so or not over the long haul.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      "Below-average starters" are better known as "relievers". (i.e Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing... and Pedro Hernandez)
    1. Wanklenuts's Avatar
      Wanklenuts -
      I guess it is basically an argument of semantics. Your definition of a 1 is my definition of an ace. I would say a 1 is pretty much what you describe as a 2. And I would agree that Diamond is a borderline 3 in a contending rotation. Based on your definition, I would say Manaea is worth the number 4 pick, but I think you need to draft best player available. If it doesn't fill a need then you can always trade someone to get what you need.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wanklenuts View Post
      I guess it is basically an argument of semantics. Your definition of a 1 is my definition of an ace. I would say a 1 is pretty much what you describe as a 2. And I would agree that Diamond is a borderline 3 in a contending rotation. Based on your definition, I would say Manaea is worth the number 4 pick, but I think you need to draft best player available. If it doesn't fill a need then you can always trade someone to get what you need.
      You can do that, but will they do that? That's the question.

      Great, logical post, though. Post more please. I like logic.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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.
      Exactly why BPA doesn't exactly fit how you would like it to with the Twins. The only way they are EVER going to build a good pitching staff is through the draft. And if you never use your high picks on high-talent pitching, you're never going to have an above average rotation unless a miracle happens with a guy you didn't see coming. You can talk about trades, but the Twins likely won't ever trade the type of talent that brings no-doubt frontline starters back either (guys like Sano/Buxton).

      Guys like Berrios/May/Meyer are great, but their odds of being frontline ACE types are not. Berrios has some good stuff, but lacks any projection, and because of that he won't be a frontline type when he gets to the majors. May has swing and miss stuff but lacks control, so he's a mid-rotation-peak or power bullpen arm. Meyer has #1 potential, but the odds of him harnessing everything to get there isn't particularly high (he'd be regarded even higher if it was).

      So I think out of our future rotation guys, we have a #2 (Meyer), maybe a couple #3's (Gibson, Berrios), and whole mess of back of the rotation guys (Scott Diamond might be a #3, but he looks a lot like a lefty Nick Blackburn to me) ...Which is still not the rotation of a contender in my book.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      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.
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Exactly why BPA doesn't exactly fit how you would like it to with the Twins. The only way they are EVER going to build a good pitching staff is through the draft. And if you never use your high picks on high-talent pitching, you're never going to have an above average rotation unless a miracle happens with a guy you didn't see coming. You can talk about trades, but the Twins likely won't ever trade the type of talent that brings no-doubt frontline starters back either (guys like Sano/Buxton).

      Guys like Berrios/May/Meyer are great, but their odds of being frontline ACE types are not. Berrios has some good stuff, but lacks any projection, and because of that he won't be a frontline type when he gets to the majors. May has swing and miss stuff but lacks control, so he's a mid-rotation-peak or power bullpen arm. Meyer has #1 potential, but the odds of him harnessing everything to get there isn't particularly high (he'd be regarded even higher if it was).

      So I think out of our future rotation guys, we have a #2 (Meyer), maybe a couple #3's (Gibson, Berrios), and whole mess of back of the rotation guys (Scott Diamond might be a #3, but he looks a lot like a lefty Nick Blackburn to me) ...Which is still not the rotation of a contender in my book.
      So drafting a pitcher who, in Keith Law's words, profiles as a league average pitcher helps fix our ace problem? Manaea has upside to be much more than a league average pitcher but he has significantly more question marks than normal college pitchers do to. Just because we want/need top of the rotation pitching doesn't mean it is there.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      My response in no way was for or against drafting Manea specifically, only about how the Twins must build a pitching staff through the draft with the way they operate. If you can't get a potential ace, you might be best served by loading up with #2's/#3's (which are still guys who go in the 1st round).

      But I'd rather have Bryant in this draft over Manea.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I really dislike how the draft guru's project starters. Manaea will be a three? I've heard the same thing about Meyer and May and plenty of other supposedly high strikeout arms. Number threes aren't generally high strikeout arms. High strikeout guys likely end up as front of the rotation arms, or bust out to the bullpen or not make it at all.

      For some reason the experts seem to think that the fair way to peg their potential is to settle on the halfway point bewteen these scenarios even though the halfway point is the least likely outcome.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I think there are two totally realistic comps for Sean Manaea:

      Ceiling - Francisco Liriano when he's on his game. Swing-and-miss fastball, wipeout slider. Ace potential.

      Floor - Francisco Liriano when he's off his game. Frustrating to the point you wish he'd get sent down or just go away... but really you just want him to be the old Frankie.

      (I actually think Manaea has a slightly lower floor. Maybe Jonathan Sanchez at his worst... but the point remains, his range is somewhere between "ace" and "so frustrated I want to scratch my eyes out.")
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      I think there are two totally realistic comps for Sean Manaea:

      Ceiling - Francisco Liriano when he's on his game. Swing-and-miss fastball, wipeout slider. Ace potential.

      Floor - Francisco Liriano when he's off his game. Frustrating to the point you wish he'd get sent down or just go away... but really you just want him to be the old Frankie.

      (I actually think Manaea has a slightly lower floor. Maybe Jonathan Sanchez at his worst... but the point remains, his range is somewhere between "ace" and "so frustrated I want to scratch my eyes out.")
      This is a decent post, though the "headcase" situations are different. Manaea was just a lazy student, there is nothing about his work as a baseball player since joining ISU to suggest that this is still a problem.

      I have Manaea as ranked third behind Appel and Gray.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I have a little problem with this labeling of pitchers as 1 through 5. Realistically, even very good pitchers, often vary from year to year. In truth, Carlos Silva was actually a number 3 almost a 2 a couple of years with the Twins. He also had a year where he wasn't even a 5. As good as Bert was he really only had one year where he was a 1. Very few pitchers are like Johan Santana who had 5 or 6 straight years where you could really call him a 1.

      What you are really saying about most of the "potential no. 1" pitchers, whether they are draftees or minor leaguers, is that if they are lucky and healthy and figure things out, they may be a number 1 some year in their career. You hope they will fill the rotation year after year as a "good" pitcher. Very few are Verlanders.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Here, here, Jim H. Good point. And besides, the Twins simply need big league-caliber pitchers right now anyway!
    1. 30whales's Avatar
      30whales -
      I don't have any reason why but I am against the Twins drafting him. Maybe its because of the Liriano comps being thrown around.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      This is a decent post, though the "headcase" situations are different. Manaea was just a lazy student, there is nothing about his work as a baseball player since joining ISU to suggest that this is still a problem.

      I have Manaea as ranked third behind Appel and Gray.
      I'm using the word "frustrating" more as a "I-know-you-have-better-stuff-than-that-why-aren't-you-better-than-this" sorta way.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Buxton is a 9--probably the most talented outfield prospect we've ever had.
      Ever is a long time, especially when it includes a certain hall of famer outfielder.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      Im sure glad I dont have to make the decision. Thhe risk with pitchers is so high. I would have taken Appel last year at 2. After about a year I am very happy with buxton. Do we need pitching? Yes. Does everyone need oitching yes. But if you can draft an impact bat who will be around for 10 years in your system...dont you have too.

      On another note, I dont know how I like the laid back demeanor of Manaea.
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