Alek Manoah wasn’t drafted out of high school, but he’ll certainly have better luck in the 2019 MLB Draft. The West Virginia pitcher had one of the best seasons of any collegiate athlete and should be one of the first selections in the draft. Maoah, a Florida native, spent the first two years of his career primarily in the bullpen before becoming a starter as a Junior.
Alek Manoah 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Alek Manoah is defined by his fastball. While it doesn’t have elite speed, it consistently sits in the mid-90’s and generates quite a few swings and misses. This is primarily due to great pitch movement, as Manoah’s fastball possessed an enviable late sinking motion. His slider, while inconsistent, shows plus potential and could be a great complement to his fastball, if he can control it. Additionally, he possesses an average changeup which works well as a third pitch, although he rarely throws it. He put these tools together in the Cape Cod League, where he led the league in strikeouts.
At 6’6” and 260 pounds, Manoah has the ideal build for a starting pitching prospect. Nobody is safe from injury, but Manoah’s build could allow him to develop into a 200-inning arm. His physical build allows him to keep his velocity late into games, as Baseball America’s Dave Serrano reported that Manoah could still hit 97 after his 120th pitch against Texas.
Manoah has three pitches, but only his fastball and his slider have plus potential. While he can use the changeup to keep hitters honest, most true MLB aces have three plus pitches. Unless his changeup makes some dramatic improvements, he’ll probably never be more than a mid-rotation arm.
Additionally, Manoah only has one year of primary starting experience under his belt. The righty spent the majority of his first two years in the bullpen, and that was primarily due to his subpar command. Manoah fixed that issue in 2018, but command is a notoriously fickle trait. If he reverts to his previous form, Manoah might end up working out of the bullpen. While he can still be a successful reliever with erratic command, starters obviously carry more value than relievers.
Last Word on Alek Manoah
Alex Manoah is one of the best pitchers in this draft class and has an outside shot of being the first pitcher off the board. The righty has one of the best fastballs in the draft class to go along with a plus-potential slider. The West Virginia product put it all together as a Junior, leading the Cape Cod League in strikeouts and flying up draft boards across the country.
However, Manoah carries more risk than you’d like from a top-10 selection. His changeup is fairly unremarkable, which probably means he’ll never be a true MLB ace. Additionally, Manoah struggled with command for the first two years of his collegiate career. Because of this, he was mostly relegated to a bullpen role before this past season. If his command regresses, he’ll probably end up working out of the bullpen.
Ultimately, Manoah will probably end up as a top-15 selection. His fastball is one of the best in the class and easily has major league potential. Manoah’s slider isn’t quite as good as his heater, but it’s still enough to play up against elite competition. His lack of a third pitch and command history keeps him out of the elite tier of prospects, but he definitely has a bright major league future.
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