The Kansas City Royals continued their hard charge to the post-season this afternoon, trading pitching prospects Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks to the Oakland Athletics for veteran Ben Zobrist along with an estimated $2,000,000 in cash. Here's a quick look at the two newest members of the Athletics farm system.
Aaron Brooks, RHP: Aaron Brooks was drafted by the Royals in the ninth round in 2011 out of Cal State San Bernadino. He moved through the farm system on the basis of his strike-throwing skills, reaching Triple-A in 2014 (3.38 ERA for Omaha, 97/25 K/BB in 139 innings with 151 hits) and returning there in 2015 (3.71, 92/21 in 107 innings, 118 hits. He received brief cups-of-coffee in both '14 and '15, combining for a total of seven major league innings pitched, giving up a total of 18 hits and 16 runs for an unsightly 20.57 ERA.
That's a tiny big league sample of course and Brooks' ability to pitch well in the difficult Pacific Coast League will get him a look with a new system.
Brooks is listed at 6-4, 220, born April 27, 1990. As you would expect from his profile he is not a hard-thrower, topping out at 93 MPH and averaging around 91. He relies heavily on his change-up and will mix in some sliders. Control is his best attribute and he does a good job eating innings in Triple-A, though his margin for error is thin. He is generally seen as a Quadruple-A pitcher but under the right conditions he could be useful as a fifth starter or bullpen option.
Sean Manaea, LHP: Manaea was drafted by Kansas City in the supplemental first round in 2013 from Indiana State University. He was viewed as perhaps the best pitcher available in the draft class until late worries about a torn hip labrum knocked back his draft stock. He was healthy in 2014 and generally pitched well, with a 3.11 ERA and a 146/54 K/BB in 122 innings for High-A Wilmington, allowing 102 hits.
Manaea was slowed this spring by an abdominal injury but has held his own in 32 innings between rookie ball rehab, four starts in High-A and two in Double-A, posting a 3.69 ERA in 32 innings with a 39/11 K/BB and 33 hits allowed.
Listed at 6-5, 234, Manaea was born February 1, 1992. His command is still inconsistent but there are few doubts about the stuff: his fastball can hit 95 and both his slider and change-up flash plus. He's overpowering at his best and if everything comes together he could be a number two starter. "Ifs" to resolve before that happens include developing more consistent command and proving that he can stay healthy under a full workload. The ceiling is quite high here but a few skeptics think he might wind up in relief like Drew Pomeranz.