After the Royals surprised most by selecting shortstop Hunter Dozier with their first round pick, the picture got a little clearer once their second selection of the draft came around.
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Royals were one of the teams entered into a competitive balance lottery and received a pick right after the compensatory picks between the first and second rounds. That meant they would select 34th overall, then again at 46th overall in the second round.
With the 34th pick, they selected left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea out of Indiana State University. Manaea is a 6’5″ southpaw who tore up the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 85 batters in 51.2 innings and allowing just 28 baserunners. He has a fastball that can hit the mid-to-upper 90s and also throws a slider and changeup. His slider was particularly wicked in the Cape Cod League, but since hasn’t been as effective.
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.
Law’s first ESPN mock draft had Manaea going to the Royals at #8 overall and grades him with potentially above-average control and feel for pitching.
Baseball America pointed out that his fastball has to be his best pitch since his secondary stuff isn’t consistent. He’s shown problems holding his velocity up as he gets deeper into games and will have hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. The Royals say he’ll be in spring camp and fully recovered after rehabilitation. He also suffered shoulder tightness in his last start at Indiana State. Regardless, Baseball America had the 21-year-old Manaea as the #18 draft prospect going into the draft.
The combination of Dozier and Manaea points to the Royals using the strategy of selecting a lower-bonus player (Dozier) with a higher slot value pick, then moving the savings to their second draft selection (Manaea). The #8 overall section carries a slot amount of ust over $3.1 million. The #34 overall slot amount is $1.623 million. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America also pointed out that if Manaea doesn’t sign, the Royals lose less available money out of their bonus pool cap. Connor Moylan at Royals Review has a more detailed explanation, but the basic idea is that if Manaea was selected at #8 and didn’t sign, the Royals wouldn’t just get to use that slot money for other players, but would lose the $3.1 million amount from their overall cap.
Their 46th pick landed Cody Reed, another big left-hander. Reed is a 20-year-old 6’5″ pitcher from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Baseball America’s scouting report credits him with a clean delivery that should help him maintain velocity. He currently works from 92-95 mph with his fastball, usually fading a bit in velocity as he goes. His secondary pitches – a slider and changeup – need some work but “he’s athletic and coordinated and has shown enough ability to spin it to get scouts to believe in him in a down draft year” according to Baseball America. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com called him a project, but conceded that a lefty who can hit the mid-90s is going to get attention.