KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Royals knew they'd uncovered something special when they saw Sean Manaea pitch in the Cape Cod League last summer, uncorking a pinpoint fastball that baffled some of the best amateur players in the country.
They kept their eye on him this past college season, too, and when a hip injury popped up that could have hurt Manaea's stock, the Royals viewed it as an opportunity to make a splash in this month's draft.
The Royals' keen eye and perseverance paid off when they announced Friday they had agreed to terms with the big left-handed pitcher.
The 34th overall pick agreed to a $3.55 million bonus, more than double the recommended slot value of $1.623 million, and more in line with the sixth overall draft pick.
"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 his injury," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "That really solidified our judgment in who he is."
Manaea will have surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his hip. He'll need three or four months of rehab but should be ready to pitch by spring training.
"I couldn't ask for anything better than what's happening right now," Manaea said.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound Manaea has a fastball that pushes into the upper 90s and a developing change-up and slider that made a mockery of hitters in the Cape Cod League. He struck out 85 while walking just seven in 52 innings, and was widely considered the summer league's top player.
This spring, he went 5-4 with a 1.47 ERA for Indiana State. Despite pitching through his hip injury, he still was third nationally with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Many believe the hip injury is what caused Manaea to slip from the first round to the the competitive balance portion of the draft.