St. John's of Shrewsbury catcher Scott Manea was taken in the final round of the Major League Baseball Draft tonight, by the Seattle Mariners. And with it, history was made.
Manea, a Shrewsbury resident and North Carolina State commit, was the seventh high school prospect from Massachusetts selected in this year's draft, joining Springfield Central shortstop Isan Diaz (2nd, Diamondbacks), former Xaverian righthander and Salisbury (Conn.) post-graduate Austin DeCarr (3rd, Yankees), St. Sebastian's first baseman Justin Bellinger (11th, Cardinals), Case righthander Zach Correll (13th, Reds), Barnstable resident and Salisbury (Conn.) third baseman Will Toffey (23rd, Yankees) and Billerica righthander Chris Murphy (29th, Blue Jays).
That is the most Massachusetts high schoolers taken in a single MLB Draft since 2003, when eight Bay Staters were selected. That class was led by Peabody High righthander Jeff Allison, who went 16th overall to the Florida Marlins.
"That's a lot of credit to northeast kids," Manea said. "They usually don't get that much attention because they're up in the cold weather and people don't think their skills are as developed as well as they should be. But scouts are starting to open their eyes up here. There's a lot of scouts that do a lot of great work around here."
Similar to Springfield Central's Isan Diaz, or Case's Zach Correll, Manea is a prospect who has seen a sharp spike in his stock over the last year. Late last summer, he put on an impressive hitting performance at the Area Code Games, and gave a commitment to NC State soon after; prior to that point, his only other Division 1 interest was from Maine and New Mexico State. One American League scout told ESPNBoston.com earlier this spring that Manea was "kinda lying in the weeds a little bit", his name known but unproven.
"He has a tool set that you can see having success in the ACC," the scout said. "He can catch and throw at a high level, and he’s got a little bit of a bat that you can use at that level. I think the question is which direction does the body go, because he’s a little bit stockier kid. But he’s put a lot of work into staying in shape, and he's definitely going in the right direction on that."
One of his best attributes is his ability to call a game. Manea calls all the pitches for the Pioneers, and caught two no-hitters this season, both from Notre Dame-bound junior Shane Combs.
"I think it definitely showed my maturity and experience behind the plate," Manea said. "That's definitely gonna be a positive in the long run. That something I've worked on ever since I started catching when I was younger and learning the game."
Manea plans on honoring his commitment to the Wolfpack, and will be eligible for the draft again in 2017. He said he fielded an offer from the Mariners to be taken in either the fifth or sixth round, but the offer was "underneath the number I had in mind."
"NC State is a really great option," Manea said. "The college experience is not that easy to turn down."