Erik Manoah Jr., brother to Toronto Blue Jays 4th ranked prospect Alek Manoah, is looking to play affiliated ball this year and is receiving some help from his brother to get another shot.
Last year, Alek Manoah was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round, 11th overall out of West Virginia University. He would spend the rest of the season playing in the Short-Season Class-A league with the Vancouver Canadians, where he would pitch to an impressive 2.65 ERA with 27 strikeouts, five walks, and only five earned runs.
The Homestead, Florida native has been pretty outspoken about how his family and his faith have helped him throughout his baseball career, which is why he came to his brother Erik’s aid the other day on social media.
Erik Manoah Jr. posted a video to his twitter account, @Erikjr05, of him throwing a bullpen session where he throws a fastball, slider, and a changeup off the mound in an attempt to land a spot on an affiliated team to keep playing baseball. Alek Manoah retweeted his brother’s tweet in an attempt to help him land somewhere with a team, which gained some traction due to Manoah’s Blue Jays followers.
Manoah Jr. does have experience in professional baseball, as he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 13th round of the 2014 amateur draft and would spend parts of six seasons playing in MiLB baseball. The highest level he would reach was Class A+ with the Los Angeles Angels organization and would go on to finish the 2019 season playing in independent ball after being released by the Angels earlier in the year.
For his minor league career, Manoah Jr. owns a bit of a blemished record, going 18-34, and posting a 5.68 ERA with 347 strikeouts and a 1.572 WHIP. Not the most impressive numbers given his minor league career, but its the chip on his shoulder and the scenario he could create is what really is the difference-maker.
After watching Manoah Jr’s bullpen session, he does seem to have some pretty impressive movement on his off-speed pitches and a consistent throw towards home. He doesn’t stand as tall as his younger brother (6’2″) but he has a long extension towards home plate, which adds some force behind the ball. He has been used as both a starter and in the bullpen, so he does have the flexibility to be utilized in different roles as well.
At 24 years old, Manoah Jr. would be on the older side if he was to join any of the Blue Jays Class A leagues, but it would be interesting to see both Manoah brothers on the same team trying to make their way up the farm system together (where Manoah is most likely going to begin the 2020 season). Brotherly competition can usually be used to bring out the strong competitor in any of us, and having these two try to make each other better over the course of the season could do wonders for not just Alek, but also Erik as well.
In a game that takes analytics to the extreme, one might be quick to outcast Manoah Jr. given his age and previous stats, but players like Rich Hill have resurrected their career by stints in independent ball, only to become established and useful MLB caliber players further down the line.
Considering signing Manoah Jr. isn’t going to deplete the Blue Jays payroll by any means, why not give the right-hander a chance to play some affiliated ball and see if playing with his brother Alek could do something for his game. If anything, you give him another chance to keep playing ball and can release him later down the line if the stats don’t improve. A real, “you have to earn your keep” kind of scenario, which Manoah Jr. seems keen to prove given his social media presence.
In this scenario, I am asking you to look past the stats and embrace the feel-good story of having two brothers play baseball side by side just like the old days. The risk associated with signing Manoah Jr. is not high by any means, and if Erik can find the form that got him drafted by the Mets, then you can reap the rewards that come with these dark horse candidates.
Whether the Blue Jays do take a flyer on the older Manoah, one thing is for certain, if any MLB team is looking to add another MiLB arm in their pitching corps, I might Manoah a guy.