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Hype has followed the big lefty ever since his arrival in July in the Ben Zobrist deal, and for good reason. He posted a 1.90 ERA in seven starts at Double-A following the trade, and he's considered an option for the big league rotation at some point this year.
Standing 6-feet-7, Manaea carries around a fastball in the upper 90s -- on Friday he touched 97, Melvin noted -- and his size and delivery make for deceptive movement. All of the above were on display at Hohokam Stadium and witnessed by Manaea's parents and several cousins.
"I may have heard my mom or dad scream my name," Manaea said, smiling. "I tried to stay focused, and I know sometimes earlier in my career I would let my mind drift, and I felt like that got me into a lot of trouble, so I just try to stay focused throughout the game."
"I couldn't tell it was his first outing," catcher Carson Blair said. "He told me he had a little bit of jitters his first few pitches, but I thought his poise was great, and I thought he had a good game plan, understanding his stuff."
Melvin took note, though he was quick to add, "When you're throwing 97 mph, it's easy to have fun.
"He's got some composure and a lot of technical things that a lot of youngsters have a tough time processing."
Manaea was unhappy with an errant pickoff attempt in the second inning after he surrendered a hard-hit ground-ball single to Kyle Parker with two outs, but he responded by fanning Will Swanner to strike out the side.
"He likes to throw over," Melvin said. "He threw over a couple times when I didn't give him one, so he likes it, and if it's on the bag, he gets him. He had him off balance; he would've picked him off. When you see a young kid like that trying to perfect his game, do some of the things we talk about early in camp, some of the little things that get yourself better every day, it's doubly impressive."
Melvin said Manaea will get another Cactus League start in five or six days, depending on how the club's pitching schedule shakes out. Getting him in front of a home crowd for the first one was important, he thought.
"I was happy with it," Manaea said. "I was pretty nervous going in. As soon as I stepped on the game mound, looked down at the rubber and looked up, I was like, 'This is pretty real.' First time pitching in front of Oakland fans, so that was pretty cool."