Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Alek Manoah warmed the hearts of fans with his iconic draft video, celebrating surrounded by friends and families as he heard his name called out on the big screen at 11th overall.
He would sign with the Blue Jays for $4.55 million and would make six starts for the Vancouver Canadians down in Low-A in 2019, crafting a 2.65 ERA with 27 strikeouts through 17.0 innings of work in his first professional season.
While the 2020 season would be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the right-hander would find himself on the Blue Jays 60-man player pool and would throw at the team’s alternate training site, honing his craft and impressing the front office, even going so far as to opening his own gym in Miami with his brother Erik to stay game ready.
The hard work paid off, as Manoah would impress in Spring Training earlier this year and would be dominant down in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons, pitching to a 0.50 ERA through three starts in May before being called up to the big league roster.
Since his call-up, the Florida product has been one of the team’s most effective starting pitchers, pitching to a 2.58 ERA through 10 starts with 19 walks, 60 strikeouts, and a 1.01 WHIP through 52.1 innings. He even got his first suspension out of the way after facing Baltimore back in mid-June after hitting Maikel Franco which led to both teams clearing their benches.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah is having an impressive rookie campaign, one that is showing fans that he has the potential to anchor this rotation for the foreseeable future alongside Hyun Jin Ryu.
To say Alek Manoah is a special player is an understatement, as the 6’6″ right-hander has a dominant presence on the mound, attacking hitters with his mid 90’s fastball and putting them away with his plus slider and ever-developing change-up, a pitch he worked hard on last season to refine and elevate to be a consistent pitch in his arsenal. I had the opportunity to speak with Manoah back in December of 2019 and you could tell that he was hungry to get to the major leagues as soon as possible.
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Manoah’s debut is needed especially with fellow top prospect Nate Pearson battling injuries this season, taking his spot in the rotation and being able to keep hitters off their game. He can get a bit wild with the inside pitches, evident by the four-hit batters and 18 walks on the season, but when his slider is on point, it is a wipeout pitch that can get the best hitters in the game swinging and missing.
I think the biggest indicator of how well Manoah was able to handle being in the major leagues was when he made his debut against a tough opponent in the New York Yankees. Not only was he facing a tough lineup, but he was also making his debut in their home at Yankee Stadium, a tough environment given the raucous fanbase. He would go six innings that day, striking out seven batters while walking only two and not giving up a single earned run as he earned the win that day.
Since then, Manoah has only given up 3+ earned runs on two occasions this season and has struck out four or more batters in each of his appearances, with his season-high of 10 strikeouts coming against the Tampa Bay Rays back on July 2.
His enthusiasm and presence on the mound gives off a Marcus Stroman vibe, something fans are used to seeing from the former top pitcher who was not afraid to express his emotions on the mound.
Overall, the Blue Jays were wise to use their 11th overall pick back in 2019 on the West Virginia pitcher, the second prospect in that year’s class to make his major league debut (behind Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox). The club has a potential ace in Alek Manoah, and with the likes of Hyun Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, and a strong Ross Stripling, the Blue Jays are setting themselves up for a nice run over the next two months.