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Author Archives: Mitch Vingle

Want sunshine? Check out WVU’s Manoah

Want sunshine? Check out WVU’s Manoah

It’s just a hunch, but I sense WVU sports fans could use a little sunshine.

Maybe, just maybe, they can use a changeup from the Mountaineer men’s basketball season.

And if you’re one of those fans, well, you’ve come to the right place.

I have such a changeup. And he happens to throw a changeup. And a slider. And a fastball.

His name is Alek Manoah. And it’s stunning how much of a hidden gem the junior right-handed pitcher has been since joining Randy Mazey’s baseball program back in 2015.

Today? He’s on the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch. The USA Baseball award recognizes the country’s top amateur baseball player. In addition, Baseball America has named him to the Preseason All-America Second Team.

Yet Manoah has been quite a story from the windup. On Nov. 16, 2015, in the midst of football and basketball season, he signed with WVU out of South Dade Senior High in Miami.

It was quite a coup for Mazey. Yet it was a quiet coup, which was head-scratching.

Manoah, then 6-6, 247 pounds, had been rated No. 40 among all high school seniors by Baseball Factory. MaxPreps had him at No. 67. He was on the Miami Herald All-Dade team playing in the largest high school classification. He chose WVU over Auburn and Mississippi State. (Manoah’s brother Erik, by the way, was once drafted by the New York Mets. He’s currently a righty for the Inland Empire 66ers, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels in the California League.)

Folks didn’t seem to get it. Manoah had pitched at Wrigley Field in the Under Armour All-America Game. Also, he was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Rawlings as a second-team All-American – as a first baseman.

“Alek is a two-way guy from Miami that has the chance to be one of the best players to ever play at West Virginia as both a pitcher and a hitter,” Mazey said at the time.

“He’s a ferocious competitor,” John Burnside, Manoah’s high school coach, told me in 2015. “He’s intimidating in size. And he gets the ball up there.”

The hitting part hasn’t panned out, but Manoah is only the third player in WVU program history to be named to the Golden Spikes preseason watch. (The others were Harrison Musgrave and Ryan McBroom.)

And now?

“He’s been really good so far,” Mazey told reporters over the weekend. “I think he made a decision this summer that he’s going to get really serious about playing this game for a living, and I think the results have shown. He’s been pitching really well so far this spring. He’s going to have to be a workhorse for us, go out and give us 100, 120 pitches every time out.”

The coach addressed his pitcher’s development.

“He has all three pitches going on really well right now,” Mazey said. “He has command of all three pitches. The stuff is off the charts. He throws really hard; has a great changeup, great slider and he’s put it all together.

“Also, he’s cleaned up his body. That’s the first thing he had to do, and he couldn’t do that until he made a decision to clean up his body, like we all try to do every day, right? But he’s done that, and I think that’s what’s enabled him to turn the corner.”

The pitches have always been within Manoah, according to Mazey.

“He was a super-talented kid when we signed him out of high school,” said the coach. “He just had to make that decision that he wanted to be good, and once you make that decision and take pride in it, your actions follow. Once he made the decision, everything kind of fell into place for him.”

Mazey helped Manoah see the light. But he also knew not to mess with the righty’s mechanics.

“Bits and pieces here and there, but I’m here not to screw him up at this point,” Mazey said. “I just keep him in line when he starts getting a little bit of fatigue and starts losing his direction a little bit. So, just bits and pieces here and there. But I’m not going to change a guy that doesn’t need changing.”

Especially one that’s providing so much sunshine during these February days.

WVU’s Brown ‘more organized’

WVU’s Brown ‘more organized’

Yes, last week I unplugged. Sort of. Miss Joni and I escaped the cold for a week of R&R (how about THAT for timing?), but, of course, we kept up with the sports world. We took a taxi to watch the WVU men lose to Iowa State and watched the ticker in the airport for… Continue Reading

Finding a little treasure in a deep dive of WVU hoops

Finding a little treasure in a deep dive of WVU hoops

It was a day or two before last year’s July 4 holiday when I filed the WVU basketball preview to Athlon magazine. I’ve been the man behind those basketball and football outlooks for years. And as I studied the roster and considered its coach, Bob Huggins, there was optimism. The Mountaineers had made the NCAA… Continue Reading

WVU’s Brown now faces challenges

WVU’s Brown now faces challenges

The contrast was stark. Shortly after Neal Brown was named the new WVU football coach, he was captured on film thanking Troy fans at a basketball game. Dana Holgorsen, meanwhile, left Morgantown for Houston with nary a glance back. He tweeted out a picture of him in “H-Town” mugging with Andre Ware. See ya, he… Continue Reading

Detecting an uh-oh, troubles with WVU hoops

Detecting an uh-oh, troubles with WVU hoops

WVU basketball fans have to be yearning for ghosts of Christmases past. Recent past. Last year at this time, the Mountaineers were 9-1. (They finished 26-11.) In 2016 at this time, they were 9-1. (They finished 28-9.) In 2015, they were 9-1 and coming off an 86-68 victory over Marshall. (Remember those games? They finished… Continue Reading

Streamline player/bowl process

Streamline player/bowl process

If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, perhaps you can guess today’s hot topic. Over the weekend, it sparked comment after comment after comment. It sparked looooonnng comments. It sparked heated comments. I write, of course, of quarterback Will Grier’s decision to skip WVU’s upcoming Camping World Bowl against Syracuse. (Oddly,… Continue Reading

Alamo reps may have misread WVU fans

Alamo reps may have misread WVU fans

When the Alamo Bowl passed on WVU’s football team, I must admit I was surprised. Bowl president Derrick Fox and staff passing on passing? They passed on pitting Washington State and standout quarterback Gardner Minshew against West Virginia and stud QB Will Grier (if, that is, the latter indeed decides to participate)? They decided to… Continue Reading

Breaking down WVU’s regular season

Breaking down WVU’s regular season

Much is swirling around the WVU football program on this Monday. As expected, Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen’s name has been floated in regard to openings. Some have questioned whether Will Grier and others will participate in the upcoming bowl game. There is uncertainty over the bowl destination. (Does the College Football Playoff committee take Oklahoma… Continue Reading

Breaking down OU-WVU game; hoops

Breaking down OU-WVU game; hoops

Maybe it was a pipe dream. Yet WVU fans were hoping. Had their Mountaineers finished the regular season with one loss and a Big 12 championship in hand, perhaps upsets elsewhere would have slipped WVU into the College Football Playoff. It seemed the year for the possibility. Will Grier, David Sills, Gary Jennings, etc., lead… Continue Reading

Where does WVU’s Long stack up among school’s best ever?

Where does WVU’s Long stack up among school’s best ever?

It started as a simple tweet. While watching WVU dismantle TCU this past Saturday, I took to Twitter to proclaim that David Long is one of the Top 10 Mountaineer linebackers I’ve witnessed in 38 years. It sparked some fun discussion with, among others, John Antonik, the Director of Digital Media at WVU. Where exactly… Continue Reading

Great time for WVU; addressing UT game, refs

Great time for WVU; addressing UT game, refs

The New Views from here: This past weekend, it was horns down to Texas. Yet everything seems to be looking up in regard to WVU on this Monday. The Mountaineer football team won a dramatic game in Austin to move to No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the USA Today… Continue Reading

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