Alek Manoah, West Virginia Baseball’s Friday night ace, has pitched himself into first round status for the upcoming June draft in Major League Baseball. Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, Manoah went 9 strong innings, striking out 15 Jayhawks and allowing just 3 hits as he shutout the visiting Lawrence baseball team. The shutout continued Manoah’s scoreless streak, which has now reached 31 consecutive innings.
If it seems like Manoah has come out of nowhere, you aren’t totally wrong. In his first two seasons with the Mountaineers, Manoah worked as a reliever and spot-starter/long-reliever. He flashed some brilliance; you will when you have the ability to throw 97 MPH, but he hadn’t shown he was first round material. The perception around Manoah changed over the summer when Manoah spent time in the Cape Cod League.
Manoah, who struggled with command at West Virginia, found his groove and located his fastball with precision and use his slider as a punch-out pitch as he lead the league in strikeouts. In 33.1 innings, he struck out 48 batters and walked only 11. He went 3-2 in the summer league with a 2.70 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. That record and those stats are in stark contrast to what Manoah did as a freshman and sophomore for West Virginia, where Manoah struggled with an ERA over 4 and allowed nearly as many hits as he did strikeouts.
Now, firmly entrenched as the Mountaineers’ Friday night starter, Manoah has settled into what many scouts thought he could - an imposing front-line ace. Alek stands a 6’-7” and weighs 270 pounds. C.C Sabathia, the former Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees ace was 6’-6” and 300 when he played.
I spoke to a source who covers the MLB Draft and he told me that Manoah was “absolutely a first round guy at this point.” TCU left-hander Nick Lodolo is likely the top college arm of this year’s draft but my source told me that he wouldn’t be surprised if Manoah passed him for top collegiate arm by end of the year.
Through the Fence has Manoah slated at #24 to Cleveland
Alek Manoah is an imposing figure, who stands 6’6″ and weighs 260. He lives in the 93-95 range with his fastball that has touched 98 at times. He uses his long limbs and frame to get good extension and the perceived velocity should be even higher. His secondary pitch is a nasty slider that should generate heavy swing and miss. The Indians need to replenish their organization with pitchers
Draftsite has Manoah at #21 to Tampa Bay
In case you were wondering, the Mountaineers have not had a player selected in the first round since right-hander Chris Enochs was selected by the Oakland Athletics in 1997. Overall, the Mountaineers have seen 90 players taken in the draft, including 20 during Randy Mazey’s tenure as head coach/manager. Last year four players were taken in the draft with Michael Grove highlighting the class with his second round selection.