2019 MLB Draft Preview: Alek Manoah scouting report
The 2019 MLB Draft is just under four weeks away — the first round kicks off on June 3, 2019 — its time to start offering capsule looks at players the Texas Rangers could select with their top picks. The Rangers’ first round pick is at #8, their second round pick is at #50, and they have Milwaukee’s competitive balance pick, acquired in the Alex Claudio trade, which is #41.
Leading up to draft day, we will be doing writeups of some of the players who could end up getting selected by the Rangers with one of their first three picks. Today, we are looking at West Virginia college junior Alek Manoah.
Alek Manoah is a 6’7”, 270 lb. righthanded pitcher who is in his junior season at West Virginia. After pitching mostly out of the bullpen as a freshman and sophomore, he worked as a starter last summer in the Cape Cod League, and has been in the rotation for West Virginia this year. He throws in the mid-90s, and can get to the upper-90s when working in relief, and has a slider that is seen as a potential plus pitch.
Baseball America has Manoah at #21 on their current top 400 rankings, praising his control and saying good things about his chances of sticking in the rotation. Fangraphs is has Manoah at #11 on their board, saying he has two 65 grade pitches. Keith Law has him all the way up at #9 on his board, noting that he was “still hitting 95 mph in the ninth inning in a 125-pitch shutout of Texas Texas”. And MLB Pipeline has Manoah at #10.
Fangraphs mocked Manoah to Texas at #8 in their top 10 mock a couple of weeks ago, saying that he’s someone the Rangers could look at taking as a below-slot guy in order to spend more on their second and third picks. Law has Manoah going a few slots behind Texas in his mock draft, at Toronto, while BA has Manoah going at #10 to San Francisco.
Jamey Newberg highlighted this article in the Athletic yesterday about the Pirates’ interest in Manoah, where Manoah says a Rangers scout called and asked if he would take $347,000 to sign if the Rangers took him in the fifth round. He said that wasn’t the number, and he ended up going undrafted that year — the Rangers took Kyle Roberts in the fifth round instead, and he signed for $400,000 and ended up getting released this spring.
That piece mentions the Rangers having interest in Manoah, and it wouldn’t be the first time a player they liked out of high school ended up getting signed by them out of college (Jake Lemoine was drafted by the Rangers both in 2012 out of high school and in 2015 out of the University of Houston). He would give them a relatively advanced pitching prospect who would seem to be on a similar timeline to guys like A.J. Alexy, Hans Crouse and Tyler Phillips, and would seem likely to move through the system relatively quickly.
The downside with Manoah, such as it is, is that his upside is probably as a mid-rotation starter, and he’s got significant reliever risk. He is a relatively safe pick, but doesn’t have the sort of home run potential we often think a top 10 pick should have. In addition, if he’s getting mocked to go in the 10-15 range, the Rangers may have a hard time getting him to accept a significantly below-slot deal at #8, if that is, as Fangraphs suggests, their plan.
Some video is below: