Photo by Kimberly Contreras

Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Evan Manarino, LHP

Our Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect Evan Manarino. Manarino dominated in his first full pro season. Can this finesse lefty continue to prove people wrong?

NameEvan Manarino
Position: LHP
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 195
Bats/Throws: L/L
Age: 23
How Acquired: Selected in the 25th round of the 2015 draft

He didn’t receive many headlines, but lefty Evan Manarino made a strong claim for top pitcher in the Oakland A’s system in 2016. In his first full season as a professional, Manarino dominated Midwest and Cal League hitters with fastball command and solid secondary offerings. What is next for this finesse lefty? Manarino has been proving scouts wrong for his entire career. A lightly recruited pitcher out of high school, Manarino spent two years in community college before transferring to UC-Irvine before the 2014 season. With the Anteaters, Manarino played a big role in the team’s 2014 College World Series appearance. Serving a swingman role, Manarino posted a 2.66 ERA in 64.1 innings. He made 11 starts and 12 relief appearances and posted a 56:9 K:BB. Despite those numbers and his role on a CWS team, Manarino did not hear his name called on draft day in 2014.

He returned to UCI for the 2015 season and stepped into a full-time starter’s role. In 94.2 innings, Manarino posted a 3.80 ERA and a 76:25 K:BB. He allowed only three homeruns and pitched two complete games. The A’s called Manarino’s name in the 25th round of the 2015 draft and assigned him to short-season Vermont to make his professional debut. He had underwhelming numbers with the Lake Monsters. In 38.2 innings, Manarino had a 5.59 ERA and he allowed two homeruns, although his K:BB was 28:6. 

Manarino had a strong spring training, but one would have been hard-pressed to predict how much he would dominate in 2016. Originally part of a tandem starting rotation in Beloit, Manarino was one of the Midwest League’s top pitchers from the beginning of the year. He threw 121.2 innings for the Snappers and put up a 2.15 ERA and a 103:20 K:BB. He allowed just one homerun and held opposing batters to a .246 average. His GO/AO was 1.63. Manarino would make the Midwest League’s mid-season and post-season All-Star teams. 

Despite his strong year with Beloit, Manarino didn’t jump up a level until the final month of the season thanks to a backlog of starters in the A’s system. When he did join High-A Stockton, he quickly showed that he belonged against the more advanced competition. In six outings (three starts and three extended relief appearances), Manarino posted a 1.27 ERA and an 18:8 K:BB in 28.1 innings. Cal League batters didn’t hit a homer off of Manarino and batted just .230 versus the left-hander. All told, he finished the season with an organization-best 1.98 ERA and a 121:28 K:BB in 150 innings.

Evan Manarino Stats

Beloit 2016 121.2 2.15 112 20 103 1.63
Stockton 2016 28.1 1.27 23 8 18 1.33
Career 188.2 2.72 181 34 149 1.39

Manarino is a lefty from the Mark Buehrle mold. He has a solid frame and an easy delivery that should allow him to be durable throughout his career. Manarino’s fastball tops out at 88 MPH, but he locates the pitch well on both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to challenge hitters with the pitch. The fastball has some late downward action that allows him to induce groundballs at a good clip (his groundball rate was 55% in 2016).

Manarino features three secondary pitches: a curveball, a slider and a change-up. There is a difference of a opinion as to which secondary pitch is his best – several members of the A’s Player Development Department cited his change-up as his best secondary pitch, while others pointed to his slider. Manarino himself indicated that his curveball was his most consistent offering this year. In any case, his repertoire is deep enough that he is able to find something off-speed that works for him in any given start, even if not all of his pitches are firing on all cylinders. Manarino can throw all of his pitches for strikes and he is often ahead in the count, allowing him to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. He mixes his pitches well and does a good job executing his game plan in-start.

Manarino’s pure stuff isn’t eye-popping and he was old for the Midwest League, so he will always have to prove himself at every level, like he did when he reached Stockton in August. The A’s have done well with finesse pitchers like Manarino in the past – A.J. Griffin, Dallas Braden and Tommy Milone come to mind – and if he continues to perform, he’ll get plenty of opportunities to move up. Manarino could settle into a role as a lefty specialist in the upper levels if he eventually struggles as a starter. He held lefties to a .190 average this season and struck-out 49 of 174 lefties he faced this year while walking only six. Righties hit .244 against him.

“With someone like that, lefties kind of create their own roles,” A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens said of Manarino late in the season. “He’s got to keep on performing. As he climbs that ladder, his role will be determined by how much success he is having. It’s a breath of fresh air over here. The Oakland A’s, we reward performance on the field. He keeps pitching well, he’ll get opportunities.”

Manarino will compete with a number of pitchers this spring for a spot in the Double-A Midland RockHounds’ rotation. Even if he doesn’t make that rotation out of spring training, he should see plenty of time in Double-A if he continues to perform in Stockton as he did with them this August.

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