MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia right-handed pitcher Alek Manoah made yet another bit of Mountaineers baseball history on Monday, tying for the highest overall draft pick in program history. The Toronto Blue Jays drafted the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Manoah with the No. 11 overall pick in the 40-round draft.
“It feels amazing,” Manoah said. “I thought this was a perfect fit for me when I met with the front office. I’m just glad I was able to fall to 11. I think they’re a good fit for me.”
He said he felt a bond with Toronto general manager Ross Atkins, who, like Manoah, grew up in the Miami area. Manoah joked that he also hopes to form a future bond with rapper Drake, who is a staple at Toronto sporting events.
Manoah was the second pitcher taken in the draft, behind only TCU lefty Nick Lodolo. Manoah has a slotted draft value of more than $4.5 million for his rookie contract.
Just a day removed from a painful exit from the NCAA tournament, West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said seeing Manoah get drafted was one of the greatest highs he’s experienced.
“It’s one of the happiest days of my coaching career,” Mazey said.
West Virginia teammates gathered with Manoah to watch the draft from Mazey’s home.
“To see how happy all his teammates were for him tells you what type of person he is,” Mazey said.
According to Manoah, the plan for him is to move through the Blue Jays system as a starting pitcher as he refines a third pitch to use with his devastating fastball and slider.
“I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do,” Manoah said. “The plan is for me to be a starter and be up there in the next couple years.”
As it turns out, getting to Toronto for his jersey presentation will be half the adventure.
“I don’t even have a passport,” Manoah said. “That’s something we’re figuring out, how to get me in Canada by the end of the week.”
Manoah, the Big 12 pitcher of the year, set the single-season school record with 144 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings pitched. He also had a streak of 34 1/3 scoreless innings.
His pitching and leadership were instrumental to the success of the Mountaineers, who hosted an NCAA regional for the first time since 1955. Manoah went 9-4 with a 2.05 ERA, also becoming just the fourth West Virginia baseball player to be named a first-team all-American.
“He’ll go down perhaps as the greatest pitcher that’s ever pitched for West Virginia,” Mazey said. “He helped change the face of Mountaineer baseball forever. Led us to a regional host position. Was great in the community.
“He’ll be remembered for a long, long time for what he’s done for our baseball program and he’ll be remembered by me for a long, long time for what type of person he is.”
Manoah is the second WVU player picked in the first round in the past 40 years. He ties the previous high-water mark for a WVU baseball draft pick, Chris Enochs, who was selected 11th in the 1997 draft.
Manoah is the 21st Mazey-coached player to be taken in the MLB Draft. Those players are on an upward trend with Michael Grove taken in the second round of last year’s draft and now Manoah as a first-rounder.
“I think as a program and a coaching staff, we’ve already changed the face of West Virginia baseball,” Manoah said. “Michael Grove last year in the second round. Now I’m a top-15 pick. That sets the bar for recruits coming in.”
Manoah’s professional career may end up starting close to where he played college ball. The Blue Jays’ Rookie League affiliate sits along the Virginia-West Virginia border in Bluefield.