Future Stars Series 2025 Grad Class Profile: Manny Dorantes

January 2, 2024

There is some serious buzz surrounding Manny Dorantes right now.

He’s earned every bit of it.

Recently named to the inaugural Future Stars Series Showdown as a replacement for a Main Event player who will be unable to attend despite being in the 2025 grad class — fellow NorCal standout Peyton Olds was also selected for the event — the six-foot-two, 220-pounder has never seen his trajectory be any higher than it is right now.

And there’s still room for plenty more.

First, it starts with his development with NorCal, a legendary program that has helped produce some of the top talent in the game right now, as well as a lengthy list of FSS alums who have advanced to pro ball like Brock Jones, Henry Bolte, Robby Snelling, Pete Hansen, Cooper Hjerpe, Glenallen Hill, Jr. and others.

It’s an impressive legacy, one largely created by program founder Rob Bruno, both outside of the Future Stars Series and within it, and Dorantes is eager to add his name to that list one day.

“Playing with Rob, we don’t feel pressure,” Dorantes told FSS Plus. “Rob’s always got our backs, and we have no pressure…we just let our game do the talking. We do well on the field, we don’t have to talk so much for ourselves. Rob knows a ton of people, and they know him to be a great man and a great coach, so having him by our side, he’s got the connections and he’s the one who’s helped me get to the places I am right now. He’s not going to lie to us, he’s going to tell us straight up whether it’s good or bad, so being able to have him tell us when we need to step up, his passion gives us that motivation to go be aggressive and go do the right things.”

Little has gone wrong of late for the personable Dorantes, a legitimate two-way player who is now up to 92 miles per hour on the mound and continues to impress with the bat and his overall athleticism. While certainly not diminishing what he can do at the plate in any way, FSS scouts have previously said they believe Dorantes’ biggest upside likely is on the mound, but he remains hopeful that he can continue to show enough on both sides of the ball to let any potential decisions there play out of as long of a period of time as possible.

“Before, I honestly thought pitching was a hobby,” Dorantes said. “I always thought hitting was my go-to, that’s where my passion is. But, I definitely want to two-way as long as I can. I love the aggressiveness on the mound, the challenge. Whoever is in that box, you’ve got to face me, I’m not facing you. I’m going to come at you. Being able to be that two-way, I want to do that as long as I possibly can.”

When it comes down to it, the big righty still believes that hitting is where he’s currently better, and that’s where he can truly perform and have all his faith in for now. But it’s hard to ignore what he’s doing on the mound.

Dorantes used mostly a fastball-slider mix to deliver a sharp showing at the Underclass Elite, one in which he allowed just two hits and struck out four at Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, and followed that up with another big outing down in the Dominican Republic at the Caribbean Classic where he touched 92 on the gun. But he also knows that to continue to be taken seriously as a two-way player, he’ll need to continue developing his secondary offerings.

“Seeing those jumps in numbers is giving me some motivation to keep going,” he said. “When I throw that slider, I’m trying to throw it hard. When I’m trying to throw it hard and get it out front, that’s when it’s going to move the most, and it’s going to come at you a little harder too. It plays off the fastball; it’s just slow enough to catch them off guard with the movement, and I don’t think anyone can really hit it.”

That mentality on the mound is also something that Dorantes feels like benefits what he’s able to do at the plate, as his efforts as a pitcher have given him a better understanding on how his counterparts might want to try to go after him at the plate.

“I know people are going to want to challenge me with the fastball, so that’s the pitch I’m sitting on and looking for,” he said. “You throw a fastball over the plate, I’m going to smash it.”

That brings us to another significant element of Dorantes’ game, his strength. It’s something that’s obvious upon seeing him, and noted in nearly every scouting report out there on him.

“My strength has always been a plus all throughout my baseball career,” he said. “Being able to manage that the more I play is really important. I had to have plus strength for being able to hit baseballs far, hit them hard, throw the baseball hard, throw it across the diamond on a line. That motivates me.”

Dorantes says he focuses on lifting and stretching a lot, getting his work in at a place about 20 minutes from home called “The Lab” where he works with an Angels minor-leaguer who serves as a coach there. Between the work he’s put in there, with NorCal, at Future Stars Series events and elsewhere, it seems obvious that he’s committed to getting to live out his dream.

“I’ve always dreamed of being a pro player,” he said. “Those are my expectations at this point. I’ve seen how far I can go, and how far I can get, so pro ball, I feel like, are my expectations. But college, I feel like that’s my next step. I’m focused on that more right now. Once I get to college, that’s when I can really focus on my actual dream.”

Currently uncommitted, Dorantes says he’s received several offers already, but says he hasn’t really stressed over that just yet, knowing that he has plenty of time before he needs to sign a national letter of intent. As he continues to progress and develop, the list of schools interested should only grow both in length and caliber, and he surely wouldn’t look out of place at a major program.

Opportunities to continue to show he deserves that will continue to come, starting with the Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington later this month, but he couldn’t help but reflect on his recent experiences, including that recent run at the Caribbean Classic.

“Being able to play there was an amazing experience, once in a lifetime,” he said. “The competition over there was good, I loved playing against them. That was something I’ve honestly never seen before, their talent is much different than the talent we have over here, so being able to go against different kinds of players, it was a heck of an experience. But, they were a challenge. It was no cakewalk. We had to grind it out, grind out some wins. Being able to be faced with that challenge was the most fun I’ve had, honestly…these kids don’t have the privilege that we have, so that motivates me a lot. I have a head start because I’m privileged with these things that I have access to, so if they can get there, I can get there for sure.”

“There,” of course, remains pro ball, and Dorantes got a taste of what that might be like at the Underclass Elite, where he got to play in professional stadiums like his aforementioned experience in New Hampshire and Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford.

“That was honestly a dream come true,” he said. “It was like I was a pro player for a whole weekend. I got to play on the big fields. I was starstruck at first, to be honest. When I first stepped on that field, I’d never been on a field that pretty. I couldn’t even explain the feelings that I had. It was an amazing time. When I got back, I was into the lab right away. I was like, ‘this is where I want to be.’ I know I belong here, so I need to keep putting in the work, keep grinding, and it’ll come true.”

This upcoming summer for Dorantes? It’ll be huge. So, what does he do to make sure he not only remains on the radars of those making the decisions on life-changing things like college offers and even the 2025 MLB Draft?

“Honestly, just getting the work done,” he said. “When I got back from both of those trips, I was in the cages and getting swings in, I was playing catch, I was getting my weights in, I was in there every day, all day. I could live in there, to be honest. That’s what I have to do to get to the next level, and that’s what I have my full faith in, because I believe that it’ll all bring me to where I need to be.”

Mike Ashmore
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