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Why the Red Sox wound up not considering Sean Manaea in the 2013 draft

Sean Manaea played college ball at Indiana State.John Hefti/AP

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The 2012 season was a horrible one for the Red Sox, the team’s first last-place finish since 1992, but it came with a potential saving grace. The 69-93 atrocity gave the Sox the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, the team’s highest draft position since taking Trot Nixon at that pick 20 years earlier.

As the team discussed potential early first-round candidates in the fall of 2012, lefthander Sean Manaea — who on Saturday became the first pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox since Chris Bosio in 1993 — was among the names on that list. Yet by draft day in 2013, when the Sox ended up selecting high school lefty Trey Ball, Manaea was no longer a remote consideration.


What happened?

Manaea, who attended Indiana State, vaulted to top-of-the-first-round consideration after a dazzling Cape Cod League summer with Hyannis. In nine games (eight starts) spanning 51⅔ innings, he forged a 1.21 ERA with 85 strikeouts and just seven walks, earning recognition as both the league’s top pitcher and top prospect.

Related: A closer look at Sean Manaea

But in his junior year at Indiana State, Manaea dealt with knee, hip, and shoulder injuries that led evaluators to consider him a high-risk pick — with the sort of medical issues that are rarely present for players taken at the top of the first round. Although he performed well for Indiana State that season, forging a 1.47 ERA while striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings and showing impressive command, the fact that he was limited to 13 outings (about 73 innings) raised yellow and red flags.

Manaea’s final scheduled predraft start occurred in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. With roughly 90 scouts in attendance, one evaluator recalled, he warmed up, went out on the field, and threw two pitches before having to leave due to injury.


By the time of the draft, Manaea wasn’t in consideration for the Sox’ top pick. Instead, the team plucked another lefty out of Indiana in Ball, who is now trying to reestablish his prospect credentials out of the bullpen with the Sox’ Double A Portland affiliate. Manaea slid all the way to the No. 34 pick, where the Royals, who’d taken Hunter Dozier with the No. 8 overall pick, one slot behind the Sox’ selection of Ball, took what was seen as a bit of a risk on a pitcher with a high ceiling.

Kansas City took Manaea and turned him into a key piece of their 2015 title, trading him as the centerpiece of a package to the A’s for Ben Zobrist that summer. With Oakland, Manaea is now flourishing, with his no-hitter against the Sox representing the realization of the potential that had been on display in the summer of 2012 but that seemed too much of an uncertainty for virtually any team in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Related: For A’s Bob Melvin, it’s nice being on right side of no-hitter

Alex Speier can be reached at Follow him on twitter at @alexspeier.