Toronto Blue Jays: One prospect looks poised to break out this season

Alek Manoah, the first-round selection in the 2019 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, is poised to enter his first full professional season and looks poised to run through the organization’s farm system.

Standing at 6’6″ and 260 lbs, West Virginia University alum Alek Manoah enters the 2020 season as one of the top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Drafted in the 1st round, 11th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2019 amateur draft, Manoah spent the end of 2019 with the Vancouver Canadians in the short-season Class A league. After finishing a long season with the Mountaineers, Manoah would see limited action while in Vancouver, starting in only six games and going a total of 17 innings, compiling an impressive 2.65 ERA with 27 strikeouts, five walks and only five earned runs.

For his arsenal, Manoah possesses a 94-97 MPH fastball that has some significant sinking action which results in numerous swings and misses from batters on both sides of the plate. He also has an above-average slider and a work in progress change-up in his bag of tricks, with his slider having excellent movement and being considered his next ‘go-to’ pitch after his fastball.

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There were some concerns about his size affecting the overall consistency of his delivery and his fastball command, but a strong showing in the Cape Cod League along with a stellar campaign with the Mountaineers during his junior year erased quite a few of these qualms, enough so that he became the second pitcher off the board during last seasons amateur draft.

The only blemish on Manoah’s record is his limited action in the starting pitcher role during his college days. He did start roughly half of the games he pitched in during his freshman and sophomore seasons at WVU, but he did not become a full-fledged starter until he joined the Cape Cod League with the Chatham Anglers in 2018. The Blue Jays will most likely be cautious with his development and could see his MLB arrival be pushed back a year or two in order to get some more innings under his belt.

The overall reason I am so amped up about Alek Manoah is that he checks off a lot of boxes for what you look for in a player to become a starting pitcher in the MLB.

His size and power allow him to pitch not only with elevated MPH, but he has developed movement and action on his fastball that keeps hitters missing the ball. He doesn’t rely on his raw power to get outs and Manoah is able to mix in the off-speed pitches along with his moving fastball to keep going inning after inning.

Manoah’s size also allows him to pitch with a downward trajectory towards home plate, adding another level of difficulty to his already refined pitches. His stamina has not raised any concerns when it comes to pitching during the dog days of summer and his overall healthy track record is another positive when moving his development towards reaching the MLB level.

The 2020 season will probably see Manoah begin his adventure somewhere in Class A ball, but I can easily see the Florida native move his way up the Blue Jays farm system rather quickly if he continues to excel just like he did during the small window he had last season.

For the 2020 season, a call-up to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by seasons end seems very achievable, with a spot in the AAA rotation probably awaiting him in 2021.

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Regardless of when he arrives on the MLB stage, Manoah certainly has the makings to be a ‘front of the rotation’ starter and should have Blue Jays fans watching the farm system closely to see where he ends up when 2020 comes to an end. With his 6’6″ stature, the CN Tower will look pretty small when Manoah starts throwing heat in the confines of the Rogers Centre in just a few year’s time.

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