TERRE HAUTE —
Once the stress and hang-wringing over where Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea might get drafted was over, the angst subsided and was replaced with a happier emotion.
Manaea became the highest-chosen ISU player since 1978 when the Royals tabbed him with the 34th pick overall which was the first pick of Competitive Balance Round A late Thursday.
“It really is a proud day. To have Indiana State and Sean’s name on the ticker and to have MLB Network talking about Sean and our program. It was a good thing,” ISU coach Rick Heller said. “It was a bit stressful for all of us when he didn’t go in the first 25 picks, but I’m proud of him.”
Efforts to reach Manaea for this story were not successful, but the Wanatah native reacted to his pick on Twitter shortly after he was drafted.
“I cannot thank the @Royals enough for the opportunity that they are giving me right now. Im still in shock! And also to all my family and friends, there is no way that I could have done this without you guys. Thank you so much!” said Manaea in a pair of Tweets.
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 was after he tore up the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2012 and 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. Dozier was not projected as a first-round pick by most experts.
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 to be temporary, Manaea will likely command a much-higher salary than his slot value would indicate. The Royals total draft allotment is $8,290,700 for all of its picks.
“When the Royals drafted the shortstop, I figured they were hoping to get Sean on the back end. I thought it was a really good thing for Sean. Maybe he didn’t get the glamour of the top 10 pick, but maybe it works out where he gets top 10 money anyway,” Heller said.
If Manaea cannot negotiate a contract with the Royals — he has until July 12 to do so — he can return to ISU for his senior season.
Manaea’s advisor — Scott Boras — used the strategy with Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, who was the top overall pick on Thursday. 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 by Houston.
That option is open to Manaea, but it seemed that the Royals were earnest about bringing him into the fold.
“I’m a bit out of the loop on that. I don’t know if [signing or not signing] has even been discussed with him yet,” Heller said. “It’s just speculation on my part, but I felt with how it went down that the Royals that they are sincere about signing. They were trying their best to get Sean signed.”
The Royals intend to have Manaea undergo surgery on injured hip. The hip didn’t scare the Royals off, but it’s something that needs to be dealt with.
“It’s something that I would consider minor in the sense that it’s a common injury that can occur in a hip, and it’s something that I’m comfortable with in assessing the Draft medical,” said Royals head team physician Dr. Vincent Key to MLB.com, as reported from a press conference in Kansas City on Thursday night.
“He’s going to most likely need a procedure on the hip but … there are numerous athletes that have had this procedure and have done very well,” Key added.
Key’s assessment is in harmony with what Heller was told by ISU’s doctors this season.
“The doctors told us all along that by pitching through it is that he wouldn’t hurt it anymore. Obviously, if there was a risk of him damaging his hip further, and if he had to be shut down, we would’ve shut it down. What we were told was that he could pitch through it, it’ll be painful, but the damage is done and wouldn’t get worse,” Heller said.
The Royals’ brass said that Manaea was at the top of their draft board earlier this year.
“This guy coming into this year was at the very top of our board,” Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said in a Thursday press conference, as reported by MLB.com. “He had an outstanding summer at the Cape, our reports were top-notch. Early reports this season were top-notch.”
Manaea is the highest-drafted Sycamore since Bill Hayes was drafted 13th overall in the first round by the Chicago Cubs in 1978. He was also the highest-chosen Missouri Valley Conference player since Missouri State’s Ross Detwiler was chosen sixth overall by the Washington Nationals in 2007. Detwiler was a member of the Nats’ starting rotation in 2012 when they won the National League East division title.
No other Sycamores were chosen in the first 10 rounds of the draft which were completed on Friday. Missouri State pitcher Nick Petree (9th round, Cardinals), Bradley outfielder Michael Tauchman (10th round, Colorado) and Missouri State pitcher Grant Gordon (10th round, Arizona) were the only other MVC players chosen so far.
Rounds 11-40 take place today.