Royals sign supplemental pick Manaea
Lefty taken No. 34 overall; ranked 13th-best prospect before Draft
KANSAS CITY -- Sean Manaea, the Royals' Competitive Balance pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, will have a pretty different first month than most of his fellow draftees.
The 21-year-old left-handed pitcher from Indiana State, who was the 34th overall pick, signed for $3.55 million on Friday. But he's not headed for a baseball field; he's headed into hip surgery on Monday.
Manaea sustained a torn labrum earlier in the season. He doesn't remember exactly when it happened, but he started feeling sore during a game in Minnesota. Manaea will go to Dr. Marc Philippon of Vail, Colo., for his surgery and the recovery time is estimated at approximately three to four months. Royals left fielder Alex Gordon went through the same surgery with Philippon in 2009.
"It's relatively minor and routine as routine surgeries can be," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Our medical people feel very secure in the outcome."
Manaea is hoping to be pitching by Spring Training.
"I really want to go out and pitch, and I am going to do the best that I can, but I know I'm going to have to take my time in rehab to get back to 100 percent," Manaea said. "I'm going to take my time and not rush things and trust the people in front of me that things will work out all right."
The Royals signed their first-round pick, Hunter Dozier, last week for less than his slotted $3,137,800 at $2.2 million. Manaea was originally slotted for $1,623,000, and the Royals used the extra funds from Dozier to sign Manaea to his $3.55 million, which made him the highest-paid Competitive Balance pick ever.
"This is an unbelievable experience," Manaea said. "I couldn't ask for anything better than what is happening right now."
At Indiana State, he was 5-4 with a 1.47 ERA in 13 starts for the Sycamores. He ranked third in the NCAA with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and struck out 93 batters in 73 1/3 innings.
He was the No. 13 prospect in MLB.com's pre-Draft Top 100, but he dropped out of first-round consideration for many teams because of the impending hip injury. When he was still available after the first round, the Royals decided to take the jump and draft him themselves with their Competitive Balance pick.
"We're glad that he fell to us and that we were able to get a deal," Moore said.
Though his play was limited after the injury, the Royals saw his persistence and desire to play as a promising sign for his future in the organization.
"One of the things that really solidified our judgment in Sean is the way he persevered this spring through the ups and downs and really, to his credit, tried to pitch through this injury because of the teammate he is and the high expectations he has for himself and the winner that he is," Moore said.
Manaea described himself as a guy who works hard and one who still needs work on his offspeed pitches -- changeup and slider -- but has a good head on his shoulders.
He thrived in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he was 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA and 85 strikeouts in just 51 2/3 innings. He was named Cape Cod League Pitcher and Player of the Year.
Between his college statistics and success in Cape Cod, Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said Manaea was a great pick-up.
"You can see why he was high up on our board coming into the season," Goldberg said.
Manaea's mother, Opal, said the family hosted a small watch party of Draft night and when his name was announced, the house went wild. She said she even saw tears in her son's eyes.
"It's a dream come true," Opal said. "He's been working so hard through the years."
Opal said her son has always loved baseball. She said he started T-ball when he was five or six, and he's never stopped playing.
His father, Faaloloi, said he tried other things growing up like skateboarding, but always came back to baseball. Manaea was joined by his mother, father and brother when he signed, and Opal taped it all on her iPad.
"It's a heck of an experience, everyone should go through something like this," Faaloloi said.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.