The top pitching prospect in the Oakland Athletics farm system, and No. 48 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects, Manaea maintains and outside chance at making the Opening Day roster. Even if he opens his season in the minors, however, the 2013 first-round draft pick (No. 34 overall) of the Kansas City Royals will make his grand entrance in the majors this season.
The 6-foot-5, 24 year-old came to Oakland as part of the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals a season ago. Now, in the midst of a strong spring performance, Manaea has at least forced the A’s management to consider placing one of just five rotation spots in his willing hands.
A Valparaiso, Indiana native, he has spent just two seasons in professional baseball’s minor league systems at five separate stops.
In 25 starts over two stints at High-A ball, with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Manaea posted an 8-8 won-loss record with a 3.18 earned run average (ERA) and 168 strikeouts in 141.1 innings.
In nine starts at Double-A, the lefty was an impressive 6-1 with an even more impressive 2.36 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 49.2 innings.
While Manaea’s success at Spring Training — his 4.40 ERA is the lowest among all prospective starters — has thrust him into consideration for a spot, a hip injury all but disqualifies him. Some time in Triple-A, though, would do far more good than harm.
Once he has fully healed, and pitched well at the Triple-A level for an extended period, A’s fans should be prepared for the long-haired hurler to make his first Oakland appearance. The target date for his arrival should be set at June 1.