Oakland Athletics: Five Factors for a Successful 2016 Season

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3. Promote Sean Manaea no later than July 1:

Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Since the Athletics decided to go “all-in” circa 2014, they temporarily financed their future and lost several of their highly-touted prospects including shortstop Addison Russell, second baseman Daniel Robertson along with promising outfielders Billy McKinney and Boog Powell.

If there is any bright side to the green and gold’s dreadful 2015 campaign, it’s that they’ve added a surplus of young hurlers and sluggers to not only revamp their farm system, but have the potential to contribute to the ball club as early as this season.

Sean Manaea, LHP:

Manaea is only 23-years-old, but on the mound he looks like a seasoned veteran — exuberating both confidence and poise against the opposition, with a high-90s swing-and-miss fastball incorporated with a respectable change-up and slider as his go-to strikeout pitch.

After being acquired by the Oakland Athletics in July, the six-foot-five, 235-pound lefty from Indiana State immediately put up video game numbers for Oakland’s Double-A affiliate team, the Midland RockHounds. In Manaea’s first start, he tossed seven innings of shutout baseball, while striking out nine and surrendering just three hits against the Corpus Christi Hooks on 87 pitches (62 for strikes).

From that moment on, the southpaw put up quality start after quality start for the ‘Hounds, going 7-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his last 10 appearances of the regular season. Fast-forward to the 2015 Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game, and Manaea proved to be the real-deal — even on national television. The 2013 first-round pick had an electric-fastball and hit his spots with ease. Even though he had some control issues with his change-up, the majority of his four strikeouts came via the slider, whether it was low-and-in or away-and-in.

By the end of the night, the 23-year-old pitched two clean innings without allowing a single run, and tallied 20 strikes out of the 31 pitches he threw. Obviously, Manaea needs to work on his command and control with his off-speed pitches. Nonetheless, expect Manaea to join the Athletics some point in 2016.

If the A’s are projected to be a .500 ball club as of now, the lefty would only put them over the top, and at the very least, increase their chances of being in the playoff hunt come July or August. At this moment, who knows how much of an impact Jesse Hahn and Rich Hill will have in an Athletics’ rotation with their extensive injury histories.

The time to call-up Manaea — if not out of Spring Training — is by July 1, which would give the A’s an extra year of team control.

Next: Gray and Reddick are Here to Stay

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