Counting down from 30, the Jays Journal has your Top 30 Blue Jays prospects this year, including who we’ve ranked at #3, Alek Manoah.
Hailing from Homestead, Florida, right-handed pitcher Alek Manoah decided to take his talents to West Virginia University where he would spend 3 years playing for the Mountaineers.
After spending two years as both a starter and a reliever, it was in the summer with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League where Manoah would become an established starter, which would transition over to his junior year.
Throughout his college career, Manoah would accumulate a 2.81 ERA with 249 strikeouts, 88 walks, and a 1.170 WHIP in 58 games (34 games as a starter). His junior season would be his best out of the three, where he would throw to a 2.08 ERA and 144 strikeouts with 16 games started.
After signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, Manoah would be sent to the Class A Short Season Vancouver Canadians to finish out the regular season. In 6 starts and 17.0 innings, Manoah would strikeout 27 while only walking 5 batters, along with an impressive 2.65 ERA and a 1.059 WHIP.
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Standing at 6’6″, Manoah uses his height to his advantage when it comes to throwing on a downward plane towards home. Baseball Savant has his fastball sitting at a 65 grade and sits in the 94-97 MPH range with late sinking action.
While Manoah does possess raw power to get his fastball sitting at the higher end of the 94-97 MPH range, there were some concerns regarding his consistency and command on the mound during his first two years at WVU. When he became a full-time starter during his junior year, he was able to reel in his fastball command, which helped add to his strikeout counts while also lowering his walk rate even though he threw twice as many innings compared to his previous two seasons.
Manoah has two other pitches in his arsenal, a slider, and a changeup. His slider is his next ‘go-to’ pitch, which has excellent movement and possesses the confidence to throw it against batters on both sides of the plate. His change-up is still a work in progress, but an interview this off-season with the Florida native confirmed that Manoah is putting in a lot of work to refine the pitch to be at the same level as his other pitches.
As of right now, Alek Manoah does project and has the potential to be an MLB caliber starting pitcher given his size and stamina. The only blemish on Manoah’s pitching record is that he doesn’t have a ton of starts under his belt heading into his first full season of professional ball. Given that he appears to have reigned in his command issues that impacted his first two years of college, Manoah does have the potential to move quickly through the Blue Jays farm system if he continues to excel as he did in 2019.
I could see the Blue Jays brass take a slower approach to his development, letting him get more starts under his belt before throwing him under the bright lights of the Rogers Centre. As of right now, Manoah’s ETA to the MLB is projected at 2022, and this does seem like a pretty realistic time of arrival given his limited amount of starts through college.
No matter when he arrives on the Toronto Blue Jays scene, Manoah is going to fit in alongside fellow 6’6″ pitcher Nate Pearson to create one of the tallest rotations in the league, as well as one with explosive fastball firepower and consistent downward action.