TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #14: Seth Maness

At Springfield, the right-hander was the Cardinals organization's 2012 Pitcher of the Year. How does that translate to the future?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NR RHS 10/14/1988 6-0 184 R R 2011 11th

School: East Carolina University

Selected 2012 stats

PB 3 1 2.15 3.42 7 7 0 46.0 45 13 5 1 29 2.29 0.256 0.282
SPR 11 3 3.27 3.59 20 20 0 123.2 122 50 13 9 83 1.57 0.253 0.278
Total 14 4 2.97   27 27 0 169.2 167 63 18 10 112 1.73 0.253  

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (12): Maness is the type of pitcher everyone likes to root for. Despite not having overwhelming velocity or a nasty breaking ball, he has been immensely successful in his short minor league career. This type of performance secretly feeds the Walter Mitty dreams in many us that we to have the talent to be successful big league pitchers.

Hold those dreams just a minute! Maness hasn't made it to the major leagues yet, but many think he is well on his way. Maness has impeccable control. Did anyone really think he would improve on his 8:1 K:BB ratio of 2011 as he moved up to higher levels and more advanced hitters? Well he did. In 2013, his K:BB ratio exceeded 10:1. His ground ball rates also continued above average. The only blip on the statistics side for Maness is his tendency in 2012 of giving up a significant number of home runs (a strange anomaly for a ground ball pitcher). His home runs usually don't hurt him much as there is seldom anyone on base.

I expect Maness to open 2013 back at Double-A Springfield as the Cards try to teach him how to keep the ball in the park (not the ideal place to do it, but if he can master it there he should be able to do it anywhere). Maness should easily see Triple-A Memphis during the year and with a little luck (and some good pitching), Maness can possibly do what Walter Mitty never did - realize his dreams and pitch in the major leagues.

Message board community (14): Maness was the Cards 11th round pick in 2011, but he did not make the community's list last year despite a 1.53 ERA across three levels. He picked up this year where he left off, escaping Palm Beach after just 46 innings pitched.

Maness has a remarkable ability to not walk batters, having allowed only 10 free passes in 169 2/3 minor league innings. And he gets ground balls, with a 2.29 ratio at Palm Beach and 1.57 for Springfield. He throws a sinker, slider, curve, and change, though he is not a particularly hard thrower. One downside is that his ERA rose from 2.87 in June to 4.04 in July to 4.40 in August. But he managed a 1.94 ERA at the bandbox that is Hammons Field compared to 6.08 on the road.

With 123 Double-A innings, it will be interesting to see where the Cards start him this year. He had the most innings for Springfield, so if anyone moves up, he could easily be the first, with perhaps Martinez, Wacha and Siegrist remaining behind. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (20): Here I am, the party pooper who brought down Maness' composite score. A simple reality in ranking is that for every player more aggressively placed compared to others, another moves down the list. The latter is the case with Maness for me.

Maness makes his initial placement in this top 40 in his third year of eligibility and holds the distinction of having the best prospect list debut of any one on the list not drafted this past summer.

No one can dispute his fine 2012 season, which culminated in his being named the Cardinals organization's Pitcher of the Year. Maness was an all-star in two leagues and was also selected as the top pitcher at Springfield by The Cardinal Nation. However, those awards are about one season, not the potential of the best major league future ahead.

As I rank prospects, I find that after the 12-15 easy names are down on the page, differentiation is much more difficult. At that point, it is more of a consideration of what the player might become if he fully harnesses his tools.

I asked one scout about Maness who scoffed, "Every organization has a guy like that." That may be an exaggeration, but his underlying point is that Maness is a control pitcher, lacking a standout physical tool that makes his projection more comfortable.

The question for me is how much growth is ahead for Maness. Currently, I ranked starters Jordan Swagerty, Seth Blair and Kevin Siegrist ahead of him, with John Gast and Boone Whiting behind. Others will see it differently. Time will tell.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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