The Blue Jays decided to select a college pitcher with their first-round pick in 2019, just as they had the previous year. This time they drafted and signed Alek Manoah with the 11th overall pick, and he’s already making them look good because of their decision.
The 6’6 right-hander is an imposing figure on the mound, and he impressed while in his junior year at West Virginia, finishing with a 9-4 record and a 2.08 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 144 in 108.1 innings. After being drafted, Manoah made six appearances for the Vancouver Canadians and posted a 2.65 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched.
I’m sure that he showed enough that he’ll start the 2020 campaign in at least Low-A with the Lansing Lugnuts, and the hope is that he’ll be another college pitcher that can quickly move through the ranks, just as Nate Pearson has done. That’s not to say that Manoah is supposed to live up to Pearson’s hype, but there’s a good chance that his skills will prove to be fairly advanced in minor league baseball, and his ETA shouldn’t be that far from now.
Could that come as soon as 2020? My guess is likely not, for all the same reasons that we didn’t see Pearson make the jump last year. If the Blue Jays were contending late in the season and Manoah tore through the minor leagues then MAYBE, but that’s a lot of ifs that would have to line up, and I don’t think it’s in the cards.
That said, I think it’s entirely possible that Manoah could make the climb by the following season, depending on the state of the Blue Jays’ rotation by then. If the options they currently have at the MLB level all develop then perhaps he’ll have to wait another season, but don’t be surprised if his power arm carries him into a big league rotation by 2021. He has plenty of developing yet to do, but I like the idea of pairing him with Pearson in the rotation as this rebuild continues, and I think Blue Jays fans are going to like him more and more as they get to know him in the future.