Alek Manoah’s second season of professional baseball was on pause, and he says he can’t wait to get back on the mound after an “unbelievable” first season in the minors.
The former Mountaineer ace had some major adjustments to make upon entering the pros. He averaged more than 85 pitches every trip to the mound for West Virginia, including two complete games and another three eight-inning games. After getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round, he went to the single-A Vancouver Canadians and threw just 15 pitches in his professional debut.
The steep drop was a bit frustrating for the rookie.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into my routine and my pregame stuff, and to just go out there and throw five minutes and 15 pitches was kind of just frustrating for me,” Manoah explained. “But obviously, I understand [the coaches] are in control of everything and the blueprint is laid out, and they know what they are doing so I trust that.”
His game didn’t need a lot of adjustment, however. Manoah started in six games, gradually spending more and more time on the mound in each appearance. In his last start of the season, he spent 4.0 innings on the mound, giving up 3 hits while striking out 8 batters.
Manoah’s biggest takeaway from his first season was not necessarily in his stats, but rather his overall experience with his new team.
“I just think I had an unbelievable experience to start,” he said. “Just playing in Vancouver, with all the fans there and all that and constantly having a sold-out crowd…it was just an unbelievable atmosphere to see the way that Canada shows out for their team, for their players.”
He does concede that pro baseball is a change from the ball he played in college, and much of that has to do with the support system in place around him. Accountability, he says, is shifted from the coaches and to the players, but that is not necessarily a negative.
This has come to fruition as baseball has gone on hiatus. While Manoah is down in sunny Florida waiting for leagues to resume, he doesn’t have access to an actual baseball field or practice facility or hone his game. He’s brought a portable pitching mound into his driveway so he doesn’t lose his zip — no matter how crazy he says his neighbors may think he is.
Eventually, he will get back on a real mound up in Canada, and he’ll have something to look forward to when he gets back up there.
“I have eaten the poutine,” he said. “It’s amazing, it’s not overrated. I can’t eat it every day because it’s extremely fattening, but it’s definitely worth the calories once a month or so.”
You can catch the full chat with the former Mountaineer ace on this week’s episode of the WVU Coaches Show, so be sure to check your local listings.