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Blue Jays opt for two pitchers on Day 1 of Draft

Toronto 'confident' in No. 11 pick Manoah's stuff
@baseballexis
June 3, 2019

TORONTO -- Alek Manoah showed the Blue Jays everything they wanted to see this year and more. Toronto has followed the 6-foot-6, 260-pound right-hander since his playing days at South Dade Senior High School in Miami, but it was Manoah’s success in the Cape Cod League last summer and in

TORONTO -- Alek Manoah showed the Blue Jays everything they wanted to see this year and more.

Toronto has followed the 6-foot-6, 260-pound right-hander since his playing days at South Dade Senior High School in Miami, but it was Manoah’s success in the Cape Cod League last summer and in the rotation as a junior at West Virginia this spring that made him the Blue Jays’ first pick in the Draft, and the 11th player off the board.

Draft Tracker: Complete pick-by-pick coverage

“Last year at West Virginia he had some experience both in the rotation and out of the ‘pen, built on his success -- which really started over the summer this year in the Cape Cod League with Chatham -- and carried it over really nicely into the spring season,” said Steve Sanders, Toronto’s director of amateur scouting. “Really sort of rounded out his game, we feel.

“We’re excited about the pitch mix that Alek brings to the table -- three pitches, power stuff, a lot of strikes -- and confident that he’s got all the ingredients to be a key cog in a Major League rotation.”

Manoah’s repertoire features a power fastball and a hard slider, along with a changeup that he didn’t use much throughout the 2019 season with the Mountaineers -- with whom he went 9-4 with a 2.08 ERA in 108 1/3 innings over 16 starts, with 27 walks and 144 strikeouts -- but is a pitch that the Blue Jays are impressed by.

“Alek’s got a really good feel for his changeup, [he] doesn’t use it quite as much as the slider,” Sanders said. “This year we saw primarily a two-pitch attack with his fastball and his slider, but he did mix the change in occasionally and it’s a really effective third pitch.

“We really love what Alek brings to the table in his now stuff but do see room for him to continue to develop and to continue to improve. He’s got a really well-rounded three-pitch mix that’s going to play at the next level.”

10 things to know about Alek Manoah

While the 21-year-old’s size would put him among a small class of Major League starters who have had success with similar heights and weights -- Michael Pineda, Justin Masterson and CC Sabathia are a few comparable players -- the Blue Jays are confident in Manoah’s ability to remain in the rotation.

“Alek’s really done a nice job with maintaining his body and his conditioning and strength,” Sanders said. “He’s a really good athlete, especially for a bigger guy. He fields his position well. He simplified his delivery this year a little bit [pitching out of the stretch] and that obviously helped him repeat, which we felt helped with the improved command and control, not just of his fastball but of his secondary pitches.

“We certainly expect all of those things to be factors moving forward, but the combination of his stuff, his athleticism, his feel to pitch, his command and his makeup, we’re really confident in who he is as a person and the work he puts in on and off the field to reach his ceiling as a Major League starter.”

The slot value for Manoah’s spot in the Draft is $4,547,500, a significant portion of the Blue Jays’ entire bonus pool, which sits at $8,463,300 for all their picks. The area scout who saw Manoah the most this year was Coulson Barbiche, and Toronto’s regional crosschecker on the young righty was Michael Youngberg.

With their second pick in the Draft, the 52nd overall selection, the Blue Jays took another 6-foot-6 right-hander off the board by choosing high schooler Kendall Williams, a Vanderbilt commit from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Williams has a five-pitch mix and a high ceiling, though could be tougher to sign. The slot value at his spot is $1,403,200.

The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3 to 10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.

Toronto was represented at the 2019 Draft by Willie Upshaw and Pete Holmes.

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.