Breaking Down Sean Manaea

by Greg Lowder in

Hyannis' Sean Manaea (Indiana State) went undrafted out of high school and now, as one scout I spoke with told me, "I'd be shocked if he wasn't named the Pitcher of the Year," for the 2012 CCBL.  The scout's comment came as we watched Manaea's start against Harwich on June 30th, during which he struck out 11 across 5.1 innings, including the first two hitters of the game on 6 consecutive fastballs and 5 over the first 2 innings.  More recently, on Friday night, Manaea struck out 9 Bourne Braves in 6 innings without issuing a free pass. Sean Manaea is a rising junior for the ISU Sycamores.  He had a mediocre freshman year, starting all 15 games he appeared in while sporting a 4.32 ERA along with 82 strikeouts, 48 walks, and 6 home runs allowed in 83.1 innings.  Manaea followed that up with a solid sophomore season that saw him start 17 games.  His ERA dropped almost a full run to 3.34 thanks to a spike in his strikeouts to 115, a drop in his walks to 37, and a reduced home run rate in 105 innings.

Manaea uses every inch of 6-foot-5 frame extremely well as his extension to the plate practically carries him into the batter's box.  He has a smooth, athletic delivery, with a high leg kick and throws from a low 3/4 arm slot.  Early on, his fastball sat at 92-93 but he was able to juice it up to 95 during the first couple at-bats.  His fastball had good arm-side run and was a true swing-and-miss offering while showing excellent command and deception.

His arm slot creates problems for his secondary pitches.  I think he wants to throw a curve but because he's coming from a lower arm slot, he frequently gets around the pitch and the result is a slider/power curve without much tilt.  Manaea's arm slot prevented him from getting on top of his change-up as he consistently left the pitch up and, thankfully for him, out of the strike zone.  The few times he got on top of his change-up, it showed good depth and sink.  This is not uncommon for young pitchers and he'll need to work hard to develop these pitches like everybody else.

Manaea is deliberately slow to the plate with runners on base.  To limit a baserunner's effectiveness, pitchers are considered quick to the plate in the 1.20-1.25 range if not quicker.  At his quickest, Manaea went to home at about 1.51 seconds, but he also employs another move where he'll raise his right leg up high over the rubber and pause before coming to the plate in about 2.25 seconds.  It worked when I saw him but I don't think he'll be able to use his slower move as he progresses his career and faces better base-stealers.

Manaea's velocity quickly tapered off during the start I saw.  As I said, he sat 92-93 and bumped to 95 in the first inning but his second time through the order Manaea's fastball ticked down to 90/91 before finishing around 87/88 by the end of his start.  What's impressive is that his fastball still misses bats even at such a reduced velocity thanks to his height, long levers, and fastball command.  The scout I spoke with mentioned that Manaea's future role on the mound will be determined by his ability to sustain his velocity and the development of his secondaries.