TERRE HAUTE — Sean Manaea didn’t hear his name called by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig during Thursday’s MLB Draft.
Thought to be a potential top-5 pick prior to the season, the Indiana State left-hander slipped out of the first round of the draft altogether.
Manaea’s name was on the lips of the Kansas City Royals, who selected the Wanatah native with the 34th overall pick. He was the first pick chosen in Competitive Balance Round A.
Manaea is the highest-drafted Sycamore since Bill Hayes was drafted 13th overall by the Chicago Cubs in 1978.
Efforts to reach Manaea late Thursday were unsuccessful.
The wheels for Manaea’s selection by Kansas City were set in motion when the Royals made their first round selection with the eighth overall pick – Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier.
Dozier was not as highly-touted a prospect as Manaea has been since he tore up the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012 and drew won the league’s Pitcher of the Year award. He began to draw salacious interest from MLB scouts and executives and was perceived as a top-line pick.
With MLB using a draft slot payment pool system to pay draftees, the thought is that the Royals can pay below slot for Dozier (the assigned pick value for the eighth pick is $3,137,800) and use the money they save on Dozier to sign Manaea.
The assigned pick value for the 34th pick is $1,623,000. Given that Manaea’s hip and shoulder injuries that hampered him during ISU’s recently-completed season are thought by Manaea and his advisor Scott Boras to be temporary, Manaea will likely command a much-higher salary than his slot value provides.
Manaea has some leverage. He has one year of eligibility left at ISU. If the Royals can’t pay him what he feel he deserves, he can return for his senior season.
Moreover, if Boras advises Manaea that he could play a healthy senior season at ISU, he could send his draft stock soaring again.
For precedent, one need look no further than the first pick of the 2013 draft.
Boras advised pitcher Mark Appel to go back to Stanford after he was selected eighth overall by Pittsburgh in 2012. After a successful season with the Cardinal, Appel was selected first overall by Houston on Thursday.
Boras’s strategy to have Appel go back to Stanford paid off and it’s a strategy that could be applied in Manaea’s case as well.
Manaea has until July 12 to sign with the Royals. If he doesn’t, he will return to ISU for his senior season and will re-enter the 2014 draft. The signing deadline had previously been in mid-August.