With the 11th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Alek Manoah from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. In a draft class that seems historically bad for pitching, especially on the college side, Manoah stands out as a guy who has the velocity teams are looking for, holds it late into starts, and has a secondary offering that gets swings and misses. All of this has made Manoah fairly locked into the top 15 in mock drafts for a while now, even though there are questions about his body type and command.
Manoah is a 6-foot-6, 270-pound pitcher with a fastball that tops out at 98 miles per hour. Manoah has strong velocity, and that is his biggest selling point. He can consistently throw his heaters that check in at the mid-90s on the radar gun. Not only does Manoah have heat, but his velocity lasts late into his starts, too. For example, his 120th pitch in a game against Texas a couple months ago was clocked at 97 miles per hour. Manoah also has an effective modified cutter that is more of a nasty slider. This pitch clocks in around 95 miles per hour consistently.
West Virginia RHP Alek Manoah drew a big scouting audience of about 40, with a few VP/director types. All but one fastball has been 95-97 and this was his first slider of the day. K’d 5 of the 6 batters faced thru 2 IP. #44 in our draft rankings https://t.co/bfNqrcUABB pic.twitter.com/REamQe6gkp— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 15, 2019
While Manoah features a dominant fastball and slider, his changeup shows potential but needs more work. He also has an unlucky body type. As Bless You Boys notes, “there aren’t many pitchers his size that have had long, successful major league careers, and Manoah doesn’t appear to be especially athletic for his size.” The list of dominant pitchers of this era that are similar to Manoah is short, and it includes CC Sabathia, Aaron Harang, and Michael Pineda. Finally, Manoah needs to work on his control and command. While this was a bigger concern in his first two years of college ball when he plunked 32 batters, he still needs to improve on this in affiliated ball.