2013 draft pick Sean Manaea moved up in the KC Royals prospect rankings, up to third on MLB.com’s list.
The lefty struggled in his first professional season, at least in the first half. The Royals sent him to High-A Wilmington, where he was 2-5 with a 4.84 ERA in 12 first half starts. With the Blue Rocks, opponents hit .288 against him. Oh and he walked 25 in 48.1 innings (compared to 67 strikeouts).
Those struggles made Manaea a better pitcher (it was the first time he ever struggled). In the second half with Wilmington, he was a completely different pitcher. In 13 starts, he was 5-3 with a 1.96 ERA. In 73.1 innings, he walked 29, but struck out 79. Opponents only hit .180 against him.
The Royals hope that the second half Manaea is the Manaea they get for the long haul. His fastball and slider are both above-average pitches.
Fans will love him because he is personable and approachable. Plus, he is a great interview.
Now fully healthy, I expect Manaea to start in Double-A as their Opening Day starter. If he continues his success, he should see Triple-A Omaha by midseason. A September callup is not out of the question. I believe Manaea will be in the Royals 2016 rotation if he pitches like he did in the second half with Wilmington.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a look back at #2.