You know you’re showing some promise as an MLB pitcher when your nickname is “Samoan Randy Johnson.” This is what catcher Bruce Maxwell has been calling Sean Manaea, who impressed everyone on Sunday during his first pitching session of Spring Training.
“He’s a Samoan Randy Johnson. He has the long delivery, he’s got the size and the angle for everything. It makes things very, very tough,” Maxwell said of Manaea, per Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area.
At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he sure looks the part.
Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Indiana State University, Manaea was landed by Oakland last year in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City. And while the youngster is still a work in progress, he has the A’s quite excited about what he can bring to the table in the future.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was one of many top team officials who came away from Manaea’s first pitching session of the young season quite impressed.
“There’s a lot to him,” Melvin said. “There’s funk in his delivery, there’s extension. There’s the hair, the movement. There’s a lot with this guy to be excited about. You could understand what all the hoopla is about based on the fact that he looks to be a very talented guy with an assortment of pitches.”
Stiglich reports it is unlikely Manaea will break camp and head straight to the team’s major league club, but he does say it’s “very possible” the Samoan star will be called up during the upcoming season.
After a rough first season with the A+ Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals) in which he went 7-8 with an ERA of 3.11, Manaea showed promise last year playing on four different squads as he worked his way up the ladder after being traded to Oakland’s organization. He went 6-0 playing on Oakland’s AA Midland RockHounds team to close out the year, posting an impressive 1.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.148.
In 23 career minor-league starts, Manaea has posted 236 strikeouts to just 80 walks, showing the Randy Johnson comparison to be apt. If he can continue his upward trajectory the next year or so, he’ll soon be a mainstay in Oakland’s big-league rotation.