How Blue Jays’ Manoah took responsibility and made big league dreams come true –

How Blue Jays’ Manoah took responsibility and made big league dreams come true – fr

TORONTO – During his college days with the West Virginia Mountaineers, Alek Manoah often met head coach Randy Mazey. Sometimes they would talk about the way he was throwing. Other times the way he acted on the mound came back. They would also discuss the future a bit.
“I would always tell him that, ‘Hey, man, someday when you start against the Yankees, you won’t be able to do this, this and that. And one day you start against the Yankees, you’re going to have to do this, this and that, ”Mazey recalled Tuesday. “When we spoke (Monday) he said, ‘Hey, you remember all those talk we had about you saying someday when you start against the Yankees? Well guess what? I’m starting against the Yankees.

“It was pretty cool to see your dreams come true.”

That cute little bit of symmetry left Mazey feeling like a proud dad after Manoah called to say he would make his Toronto Blue Jays debut on Wednesday against the New York Yankees.

The 23-year-old right-hander hasn’t always been on such a promising trajectory during his years at South Dade High School in Homestead, Fla., Or with the Mountaineers, remembering how “much hard love” his brother had given him. Elder Erik and high school coach Fred Burnside sent him on a path that brought him to Yankee Stadium.

“It’s been a long road from not being drafted out of high school and not having (college) offers until my last year of high school, not even being a pitcher.” before my last year of high school, ”Manoah said. “It was fun looking back and being like, man, at one point I just grabbed the ball and tossed it. Then we learned a bit of mechanics. Now we learn some analysis. I just keep seeing my journey and getting super excited for the future because I know there is still a lot to learn, a lot to do and a lot more to improve.

Mazey was at the center of this process as well, hammering Manoah in “constant meetings” with the message that if he wanted to be a great champion “at some point you will have to make that decision. that you want to do this for a living. “

Manoah made the move ahead of his draft year, taking a significant step forward in his conditioning and nutrition, in combination with some gains made on the mound.

“When he finished his freshman year he was really, really tall – he was too fat,” Mazey said. “The first three or four meetings we had together, I was telling him the Stephen Strasburg story. I played against Stephen when he was in San Diego State and I was at (Texas Christian University) so I heard all the stories about how Strasbourg was overweight as a senior in high school and I really had to make the decision to get in shape. . And his career took off when he did that.

“Between that second and third year AK really made a decision to take care of his body and got to the point where every time we had a reunion later in his career he was like, ‘Yeah, coach, I know, Stephen Strasburg. I know. I understand.’ But he finally got it. And when he made that decision, his career just took off.

Manoah’s time in the Cape Cod League after two split seasons with the Mountaineers was also decisive, when he split the time as a starter and reliever and was all over the place.

Before joining the Chatham Anglers, “I took some responsibility,” he said, giving a direct assessment of his exact position at the time. “I was walking too many guys, hitting too many guys, the curve ball was absolutely terrible, the change was absolutely terrible. I was a guy on a pitch that didn’t strike. I can’t win like this. Maybe a round pretty much out of the survey pen in college, but I had higher expectations and dreams for myself.

To stand out among the crowd of big arms he would compete with in Cape Town, he scanned Pitching Ninja (clips) to check the mechanics, played with different grips, and chose a new slider that “ended up being amazing. He also focused on improving his fastball control, locking in on the ability to endow the ball on both sides of the plate.

“Most of my pens, I wouldn’t move to the other side of the plate until I hit my spot every time I needed to hit my spot,” Manoah said. “Then I would move and do the same on the other side. There was a stretch there, I was throwing 40, 50 bullpens, just trying to get my command. Not going on strikes at this point in my career is inexcusable. I had to figure that out and that was it – being able to throw a lot of hits, add the ball that broke and the change was a continuous development. It all just came together.

The Blue Jays took note of his performance in Cape Town and ultimately made him the second pitcher in the 2019 Draft, ranked 11th overall. Manoah joins the Big League club after just three starts with a triple A Buffalo – striking out 27 in 18 innings while allowing just one run on seven hits and three walks – and nine total outings in professional ball .

To his credit, he made the most of his time at the Blue Jays’ alternative training site last summer, easing the loss of the minor league season by playing against top hitters on a regular basis.

Then, in spring training, he immediately accelerated his timeline with three revealing outings against regulars in the Yankee, eliminating 15 in seven innings at once. In more ideal circumstances, the Blue Jays might have given him a little more time to develop, but once Anthony Kay was picked last week to fend for himself, it was either a paddock day. or Manoah for Wednesday’s outing and a tough weekend for relief. body denied the first possibility.

“That’s why we go day to day every time I say ‘paddock day’,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “We didn’t know we were going to play extra games against the Rays, of course, and the bullpen threw a lot. This is why we have come to this decision to evoke Manoah. And he deserved it. It wasn’t just like we needed a launcher. He launched (well) and the place opened up for him.

A debut in the background at Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the blueprint for transition prospects, but Manoah doesn’t seem like one to be fazed by his surroundings. He handled the situation in the Grapefruit League game well and called the new opportunity “incredible”.

“Obviously the team has confidence in me to throw me into the fire and I’m good to go, man,” Manoah added. “As long as that mound is still 60 feet, six inches tall, we have a chance.”

Mazey believes the Blue Jays will have plenty of them too.

“I’m not a gambling player, but if I was, I would bet on Alek Manoah in any situation,” he said. “His competitiveness will motivate him. The bigger the timing the better off he will be, so the fact that he’s pitching at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees is better for him than pitching against someone who doesn’t have that tradition.


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