Randy Mazey has mentored several outstanding pitchers in his 30 years as a coach.
He coached two current major league pitchers — Philadelphia’s Jake Arrieta and Baltimore’s Andrew Cashner — during his stint at TCU, but he said neither pitcher can touch the season that junior Alek Manoah has composed.
It’s not just Manoah’s skill that sets him apart. In Mazey’s mind, it’s the intangibles that make him an unmatched competitor.
“Whole package, Alek Manoah is arguably the best one I’ve had, with the stuff that he has, the velocity that he has,” said Mazey after a 5-1 win over Texas Tech Thursday to send WVU to the Big 12 semifinals. “He has three pitches that he can throw for strikes, really at any time. Throw on top of that the competitiveness and the fire and desire and commitment and the selflessness.”
Manoah tossed 10 strikeouts in eight innings Thursday, holding the top-seeded Red Raiders — who entered the contest with the Big 12’s highest scoring offense — to just one earned run. During the regular season, Manoah tossed a complete game shutout against Texas Tech, becoming the only pitcher all season to blank the Big 12 regular season champs.
The Florida native is putting together one of the most dominant seasons in WVU history. His school-record of 135 strikeouts this season could go even higher with an NCAA regional on the horizon.
But the fact that all of this is happening in the days leading up to the 2019 MLB Draft is what impresses Mazey the most. His pitching ace is a projected first rounder, yet Manoah shows no arrogance or sense of entitlement.
He pitches. He dominates. He spreads his enthusiasm like wildfire throughout the dugout.
“That guy, in the second half of the season, has every reason to go out there and pitch for himself, because next Monday is draft day,” said Mazey. “It’s been a huge part of this season for him, and for him to just go out there and throw his heart on the field for the Mountaineers in spite of that shows a lot about what kind of person he is — that he’s still fighting for the name on the front of the jersey, and not the one on the back, and that’s just a testament to him.”
The MLB Draft begins June 3, but the Mountaineers have some important business to attend to before then.
WVU will play either Texas Tech or Kansas Saturday for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. That semifinal contest is slated for 10 a.m. ET.