Draft rankings are all over the place this year, so I’m just throwing my hands up and previewing whoever the hell I want. I might miss our pick this year, but we’ll all learn a lot about players we’ll probably never see play a game.
Alek Manoah is a 21 year old 6’7” 270 lb Defensive En... whoops, Right Handed Pitcher from University of West Virginia (or he may be a 6’6” 260 or 280 lb Pitcher. Even Baseball America lists him with a few different measurements, but I’m going with what was in the most recent report I found. That said 6’6”, 260 lbs seems to be the most common listed). The interesting thing about Manoah is that, like current highly regarded prospect Spencer Howard, he was a Reliever for most of his College career. Since he’s relatively new to starting, the thinking is, there’s still more ceiling left than for a typical Starter. Of course, unlike Howard, Manoah became a Starter in the summer after his Sophomore year, not as a Junior, so there’s a little more data on him to get him to the top half of the first round.
In the bullpen Manoah was known to hit 98 mph with his fastball, he seems to sit mostly 92-93, up to 96 mph. He has a Slider that looks like a future plus pitch. He has an average changeup that’s unlikely to get much better, but is good for keeping hitters honest. His control and command are average and below average, but being new to starting, it’s possible that through additional work that could still improve. You could also see growth in the fastball and slider still, even though Manoah has no more physical projection left, merely building up stamina can allow him to hold velocity deeper into games and possibly even get to the 98 he got to in the bullpen.
Video below is from Fangraphs. Manoah does not look terribly athletic, but he repeats the delivery well in this video. You do get to see the Slider early in this video and it certainly moves. He seems to fall off to his glove side looking a little off balance. While he does repeat the delivery fairly well in this video, it has been something he’s struggled with throughout his career. Pitcher’s over 6’5” have a reputation for struggling to repeat mechanics (same holds true among NFL QB’s) so it makes it a bit tough to get excited about.
Manoah’s floor is probably a classic Fastball/Slider reliever, but the ceiling could be as high as #2 Starter. He’s pretty dominant through 9 Starts so far this year going 5-2 with a 2.08 ERA, 80 K’s and 15 BB’s a .182 Batting Average Against and a complete game, shutout. It’s exciting to consider the possibilities, but at the 14th pick I can be very happy with a inning eating #3 starter.