Royals, Manaea Agree On $3.55 Million

By starring in the Cape Cod League last summer, Indiana State lefthander Sean Manaea put himself in position to go at the top of the 2013 draft. While that didn’t happen–he slid to the 34th overall pick after battling a hip injury–he’ll get paid as if it did.

Baseball America has learned that Manaea and the Royals have agreed on a $3.55 million bonus that should become official by the end of the weekend. It’s more than double the assigned value for his slot ($1,623,000) and slightly more than the value of the No. 6 pick ($3,516,000).

Sean Manaea

Sean Manaea (Photo by Tony Campbell)

Manaea’s bonus eclipses the record for a supplemental first-rounder previous held by Nick Castellanos, who got $3.45 million from the Tigers in 2010. Manaea’s bonus also is the second-largest ever outside of the first round, trailing only the $5 million that the Pirates paid second-rounder Josh Bell in 2011.

Manaea dominated Cape competition with his explosive mid-90s fastball, setting a modern league record with 85 strikeouts in 52 innings. Though he wasn’t as electric this spring, when he mostly pitched at 88-93 mph, he still had enough movement and deception on his fastball to set an Indiana State record for ERA (1.47) and rank third in NCAA Division I in strikeouts per nine innings (11.4).

Manaea also flashes a quality slider and employs a splitter/changeup, though neither qualifies as a consistent plus pitch. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder works from a low three-quarters angle, which adds life to his pitches without costing him command.

His physical problems began March 15, when he rolled his right ankle while celebrating a dramatic win over Minnesota ace Tom Windle. Manaea’s hip began to bother him shortly afterward, but he ignored the pain and didn’t miss a start until May 21, when he felt shoulder stiffness while warming up for a Missouri Valley Conference tournament game. He didn’t get another chance to pitch before the draft.

Teams received a copy of Manaea’s medical records a couple of days before the draft began on June 6. Those reports revealed a labrum tear in his hip that will require surgery but isn’t expected to hinder him in the long term, and also indicated no structural damage in his shoulder. One Royals executive said the team strongly considered taking Manaea with its No. 8 overall pick after reviewing his medical records.

Instead, Kansas City opted to take Stephen F. Austin State shortstop Hunter Dozier at No. 8 and hoped that Manaea or California high school righthander Phil Bickford would be available at No. 34. For more on the club’s thinking behind that strategy, read this column.

Though teams face the forfeiture of a future first-round pick if they exceed their bonus pools for the first 10 rounds by more than 5 percent, the Royals are in no danger of crossing that line. They came in $937,800 under Dozier’s pick value by signing him for $2.2 million, and have saved a total of $1,766,100 versus pick values thus far.

Kansas City will get another discount when it signs North Carolina senior first baseman Cody Stubbs, an eighth-round pick who’s still active at the College World Series. The Royals will have to pay a 75 percent draft-tax penalty if they exceed their overall $8,290,700 bonus pool, but there overage likely will be less than $15,000.

–Jim Callis