Truthfully I never intended to write this post. Over the past few weeks I’ve tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to plan my content a few weeks out. My original intention was for this 800+ words to cover Bobby Bradley. Why Bradley? Because it ain’t just chicks who dig the longball, it’s fantasy nerds, and prospect geeks too. Then something happened, increasingly over the last several months, Oakland A’s lefty Sean Manaea has become a hot topic of conversation. All of a sudden all the cool kids are talking about him, and wearing his jeans. Manaea couture to be exact. I’ve transitioned. Wait, what? No, not like that! – Not that there’s anything wrong with it – No! not “it” like that…..I’m painting myself into a corner here….. Any the who, I’ve transitioned from writing Manaea off as a hyped up yet oft-injured lefty with devastating stuff, to being intrigued by the possibility of acquiring him in dynasty formats. So this intrigue has led me to a deeper dive into the increasing hype of his prospect status this offseason, and whether it is real or mirage.

 

Sean Manaea, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats:
74.1 IP, 2.66 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9

First let’s begin with the track record and background, shall we? The 6’5 lefty wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school, despite winning the 2010 Indiana state championship with Andrean High School. In fact he wasn’t even drafted -which seems completely mind boggling to me considering there’s like 23,000 rounds in the MLB draft –  Manaea then enrolled at Indiana State University. From there things took off. After a relatively pedestrian freshman year where he struggled with control, the lefty took a major step forward in his Sophomore season. Over the course of his second year he scaled back on the walks and saw an uptick in k’s, which in turn saw his K/Bb nearly double from 1.71 his freshman year to 3.11 his sophomore year. In the process Manaea made 17 starts and dropped his ERA a full run (okay .98) to a respectable 3.34. Things were definitely coming together for the tall lefty.

Following his strong 2012, Manaea was invited to participate in the Cape Cod League that summer and proceeded to build his rep, winning the most outstanding prospect award with a 5-1 record, a 1.22 ERA and 85 k’s to just 7 walks in 51 2/3rds innings. Yup you’re seeing that correctly, that’s a 14.5 K/9 paired with a 1.2 Bb/9. The following year Manaea returned to Indiana State with many believing he could be the top pick in the June draft. For the most part he delivered, posting a 1.47 ERA, a WHIP of 1.04, and a K/9 of 11.41. Leading many to rate Manaea as the top pitching prospect available, but a hip injury and the certainty of looming surgery, saw him drop all the way to pick 34 and the Kansas City Royals. Upon signing a well above market deal Manaea elected to have surgery to fix a torn acetabular labrum, delaying the start of his professional career until the following spring.

Healthy and ready to go for Spring Training in 2014, Manaea spent the season at high class A Wilmington of the Carolina League. There he made 25 starts and led the league in strikeouts while also putting up a respectable ERA of 3.11. More than anything he proved he could make it through a season unscathed….kinda…

His 2015 got off to a late start, missing most of the first half with a pair of injuries – abdominal and groin – that sound like they were the product of a non-stop 18 hour love making session. Though they were probably from baseball. (Psssst they were…) So upon returning to Wilmington and making 4 starts to mediocre results, our hero was promoted to AA Northwest Arkansas, and then swiftly traded to the A’s for Ben Zobrist. Upon arriving in Oakland, Manaea was assigned to AA Midland of the Texas league, and went absolutely bonkers going 6-0 in 7 starts with a 10.8 K/9 and a 1.90 ERA. Following the minor league season he headed to the Arizona Fall League where he continued to dominate.

So what good is all this info what can we learn Ralph? Well, young Fantasy Baseballa’ there are a few things we can deduct from all this information.

1. He’s been successful at every level.

2. He’s struck out batters at a high rate at every level.

3. He’s also struggled at times with his command.

4. Throughout college and through three levels of the minors Manaea has kept the ball in the ballpark, never averaging more than .60 HR/9.

As for the arsenal, he mixes a plus-plus fastball, with a plus slurvy slider, and an above average change. Though at times his offspeed offerings can look pedestrian in his bad starts. There’s also a huge fluctuation in velocity, sometimes hitting 96-98 wiht the heater, while at other times being clocked at 89. But all of this pails in comparison to the elephant in the room, his health. With injuries being a huge part of the package with Manaea it can’t be ignored. The hip injury is the scary one, because he’s 24 and not 84. It’s also not exactly ideal that it FLARED UP again this spring. Okay, I’m freaking myself out a bit again. Needless to say no one would blame you if you were scared away, and it’s something you must be cognizant of before acquiring him in dynasty formats. The upside on the other hand is tempting, a lot of scouting reports limit his upside at a 3 or 4 starter, but that seems extra cautious. Based on the numbers he looks like a potential fantasy number 2 starter with huge K upside in a pitchers park. If he gets over his current injury early in the first half of the season, a call up to the bigs should, and could be in short order. At that point he’s a player that should be tempting in all formats, including RCL’s. My guess for an ETA range would be sometime in mid-late July if all goes well.

 

 

   
  1. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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    Great writeup, definitely interested. Would you pay $1 to have him ride your reserve until he’s up in a weekly lineup keeper league? I already have Urias and Berrios there, with Cobb and Ryu in 2 of my 3 DL spots. All of those guys are either $1 or $0.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: I would make a move for him. Especially with Ryu still a pretty big question mark IMO

  2. OaktownSteve says:
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    Great post.

    Need to add they’re calling him The Samoan Randy Johnson.

    His path is probably clear. Just a service time call.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @OaktownSteve: Thanks OTS!

      Haha yeah the Randy Johnson comps are all over place. The Samoan from Indiana part kind of cracks me up too. I’m not sure his ceiling is Randy J level though. That’s heady company.

      Yeah I was talking to J-FOH about this earlier, I think he gets delayed by service time plus the hip flare up. My expectation is that delays him into July sometime. A couple months at AAA wouldn’t hurt him. A’s can use an arm like that though, so you’re 100% right about the clear path.

  3. Bread n Mustard says:
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    Great post. I wasn’t going to read it but I’m glad I did.

    What is the ceiling for Kendall Graveman?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Bread n Mustard: I wasn’t going to read your comment and then I said “what the hell”! Just kidding

      I think he’s just a BORP. Maybe I’m wrong but outside of a depth guy in deep dynasty I don’t want any part of him.

  4. Baskets says:
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    2 n/a players allowed —Judge, Colin Moran and Wilson Contreras available. How do you rate these 3?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Baskets: Judge, Contreras, Moran.

      I don’t think much of Moran.

  5. EazyE says:
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    Awesome post, Ralph! Would u drop Daniel Norris for him?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @EazyE: Probably, I don’t trust people who choose to live the van life. Riddle me this how does he get a good nights sleep in that thing? All the pillows and blankets in the world can undo the very van-ness that you’re sleeping in.

      End rant….
      As for your question, Sean Manaea doesn’t live in a van.

      • CMUTimmah says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: My sister and brother in law just moved into van life a few months ago. She’s an engineer making 6 figures. He’s a carpenter so he gutted a mercedes van and did an incredible job making it “nice” on the inside, while pulling in a respectable salary.. so, like Norris, it’s far from out of necessity. However, I live in a 1,700 square foot house with my wife, without kids, and I can sometimes feel the walls closing in on me! Clearly minimalist lifestyle would not be ideal for me. They seem to make it work.

        Crazy people aside, Norris is guaranteed a spot in the rotation for a team that puts up runs, Manaea might not even get called up (ok, it’s likely, but if it’s not until August… is it worth it?). I like Norris’ floor and upside for this season far better than Manaea’s upside.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @CMUTimmah: my van life comments were obviously tongue-in-cheek. My greater concern is the latest Noris injury. Both have a checkered past healthwise but I think Manaea could start for the A’s this year before Norris does for the Tigers.

  6. Jerry says:
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    Hey, Ralph! Do you like We-Yen Chen, Aron Sancez or Juan Nicaso for the season? Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jerry: I like Sanchez for the upside.

  7. Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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    you sharing magoo’s idea that turner is very likely to be called up later than arcia. for dynasties i went turner (ranked higher by you), and at this point i’ve also stashed turner earlier, but can reverse course if you agree with this. it seems neither is blocked by anybody good (espinosa or hill)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Eli Man Penguin Boy: I think Turner is up first. I’ve heard he could be up as early as May 1st. I don’t think we see Arcia until sometime in June.

      • Five-On-One says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Turner or Arcia worth stashing in a 12 team league if Odor, Dozier and Castro are my Middle Infielders (with Semien sitting on the bench)?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Five-On-One: No you’re rather flush at MI

        • Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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          @Five-On-One: better off stashing power guy (cough cough, reed) in that one.

      • Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: yeah i had no idea where from or why he thought that. neither has a block, only thing i could think of is sources like BA think arcia’s D is much better, so turner could need more “salt” (or other seasonings), this is really only reason i could imagine anybody would claim that, and he didn’t reference that. most places have their tools very very close as far as we care about though, with arcia having a little more hit/power (5 pts in most spots), but turner having even higher speed upgrade. arica is called better defender pretty much everywhere. only other thing i could think of is that MIL has no chance of competing whereas WAS (at least thinks) it does.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Eli Man Penguin Boy: I actually think the fact that Washington will compete should push Turner up quicker. His ability to score runs and be a dynamic offensive force at the top of the lineup should have him up shortly. The Brewers have zero reason to start the service clock. I assume Magoo was thinking Baker would keep Turner down. You’d have to ask him.

          • Eli Man Penguin Boy says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: Grey debunked that one citing votto brought up early by dusty so long ago. of course these days he’s likely got aphasia or alzheimers as he twice called harper “royce harper” during preseason, this could of course leading to him forgetting even what players he has at his disposal unless they are right in front of him. later in year whole team will have to be moved into same hotel as dusty to alleviate this, just watch. it’ll eventually devolve (or evolve if you’re NYM fan i guess) into him having Memento man disease.

  8. Jerry says:
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    Thanks, Ralph! What about Nola? He’s available too. Or would you still stick with Sanchez?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Jerry: I prefer Nola

  9. dom says:
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    hey good stuff i like your prospect work

    which of these guys do you like as a stash for this year? 18 teams and categories are OPS, R, RBI, HR, XBH, H, BB, SB and IP W L QS ERA WHIP K SV

    Orlando Arcia
    Sean Manaea
    Joey Gallo
    Nomar Mazara
    Trea Turner
    JP Crawford
    Jose Peraza

    thanks

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @dom: Turner and Arcia to contribute this year. Mazara as the best overall player, but less likely to make an impact this season.

  10. David says:
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    Ralph, I was offered C. Davis for Jose Fernandez in a dynasty league wit Xbh and slg are categories. I have no chance to win this year with my inherited team, but will compete in a couple of years. If I trade Fernandez, my best shortly down the road will be Corbin, Urias, Glasnow, and Espinosa. Hitters are: Correa, Springer, Puig, Reed, Devers, DeShields, Benintendi. Thoughts? Thanks

  11. David says:
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    Oh, and obp replaces avg

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @David: You have a really nice young core with some guys like Springer, Correa, Puig, Fernandez, DeShizzle, and Corbin that are already contributors, plus some top 20 type specs in Devers, Espinoza, Urias, Benintendi and Glasnow. I’d hold off on any moves this year. Other than adding from the wire or trades for good young major leaguers.

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