Oakland Athletics’ Prospect to Watch: Pitcher Sean Manaea

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The Oakland Athletics’ prospect pool this year is definitely stronger than it has been in previous seasons. Thus, it is expected that some of the A’s minor leaguers are going to make an impact in the big leagues in 2016. One of these prospects is left-handed starting pitcher Sean Manaea.

On Wednesday, Baseball America slotted Manaea as the Athletics’ overall No. 2 prospect behind shortstop Franklin Barreto. Despite only joining the A’s organization in July of 2015 via the Ben Zobrist trade, Manaea was one of the key starters that helped lead Oakland’s Double-A Midland RockHounds to the 2015 Texas League championship. 

While with the Midland RockHounds during the second half of the season, this lefty starter was able to post some impressive numbers. He earned a 1.90 ERA, had a 1.15 WHIP, and struck out 51 in just 42.1 innings pitched. Out of his seven starts with the RockHounds, Manaea was able to earn a W in six of those games.  

Additionally, Manaea had the opportunity to represent the Oakland Athletics in the Arizona Fall League in 2015. Even though his ERA jumped to 3.86 over his six starts this fall, Manaea still impressed coaches and fans alike. He was named to the Fall Stars Game, was appointed Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Week in mid-November, and made the Arizona Fall League’s 2015 Top Prospects Team in December.

Manaea is expected to be promoted to Triple-A this year and was recently invited to spring training as a non-roster invitee. This is the first time he will attend a Major League spring training camp. If he performs well both in spring training and during the first half of the minor league season, it is expected that he will take the mound at O.co Coliseum sometime in 2016.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the Oakland Athletics’ starting rotation, Manaea could make his Major League debut before the roster expands in September. With Rich Hill pretty much unproven as a successful everyday starter and some other pitchers having questionable health and injury histories, Manaea may be called up mid-season if he pitches well in Triple-A. It will really depend on how the starting rotation pans out over the first few months of the 2016 season.

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As opposed to some other A’s prospects, there could be a legitimate spot on the roster for Manaea this season should injuries plague the starting rotation again or numerous starters fail to perform. As long as he continues to pitch well during his time in Triple-A and avoids injuries, fans will definitely see Manaea in an Oakland uniform later this year.

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