Name: Erik Manoah Pos: RHP Team: Brooklyn Cyclones
Age: 12/22/1995 (20) Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 190
2016 MMN Prospect Rank: N/R
The Mets made Manoah their 13th-round pick in 2014, when they selected him from South Dade High School in Homestead, Florida, a magnet campus about 35 miles south of Miami. He agreed to a $200,000 signing bonus and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League, where he made five relief appearances before three starts to end the season. Manoah finished the year on a high note, tossing five shutout innings while allowing one hit and striking out nine on August 27.
Manoah spent almost the entire 2015 season with the Kingsport Mets, save for a spot start on the penultimate day of the Brooklyn Cyclones’ season. In Kingsport, he struggled to find consistency, allowing four or more runs in five of his nine starts, but put together six scoreless innings on August 26. The Cyclones, devoid of fresh arms by the end of the season, promoted Manoah, who allowed seven runs over six innings, although he punched out seven.
Heading into the 2016 season, Manoah was determined to prove why the Mets took him where they did two years ago. Assigned to Brooklyn, he hit the ground running, tossing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball in his second start on June 26. Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa dubbed the outing as “his best as a professional,” but Manoah has challenged that statement multiple times this season.
From July 12 through his last start on August 1, he did not give up more than one run in each game. In the final outing during that stretch, his first against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Manoah went seven innings, allowing no runs and four hits, while tying his career high with nine strikeouts.
“That’s the first time in his career he’s seen the seventh inning,” Gamboa remarked after the game. “It was kind of a personal goal of his this year, to make that happen, and he certainly deserved it tonight.”
Manoah is currently 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA and 38 strikeouts through eight starts in 2016.
Manoah, like most pitchers at the level, features a simple repertoire, throwing a fastball, curveball and changeup. The fastball sits in the low 90s, although he dialed it up to 95 miles per hour to notch a strikeout in his last start. The curve, which displays tight, sharp movement, and the change both run in the low to mid 80s. At 6’2″, he is one of the taller members of the Cyclones’ staff, allowing for more extension than his teammates may be able to achieve.
One reason for Manoah’s success in 2016 has been his ability to limit free passes, as his walk rate is currently at 8.1%, about two percentage points lower than his previous best. The game plan for Manoah has always been to attack the zone, and he’s been seeing great results by sticking to that strategy.
While Manoah has always possessed the physical skills to be a prospect, he has been susceptible to letting his emotions get the best of him at times, or has become rattled after some element of the game failed to go his way. After eight starts at a higher level, however, Gamboa had nothing but rave reviews for his pitcher:
“Everybody has been impressed. [Pitching coach] Billy Bryk talks to him every day, I talk to him. He’s come so far on the intangibles. His mound presence, controlling his emotions, not letting a missed call of an umpire or an error get to him. He’s really becoming a true professional. He’s become much more aware on the mound, and his teammates are responding accordingly. He’s becoming a fun guy to play behind because he’s aggressive and passionate. I like it when he pounds his glove because he knows he made a good pitch, the defense did what they had to do, and he got out of the jam. That’s part of what coaching is about: molding young people and teaching them how to be a professional.”
The Brooklyn starting staff, which features 2016 first-round pick Justin Dunn and top prospect Thomas Szapucki, has turned in stellar results thus far. Cyclones pitchers have struck out the most batters in the circuit, led by league-leader Harol Gonzalez, Merandy Gonzalez, and Manoah, who will help anchor the group for the remainder of the season. Perhaps Manoah has even done enough to prove (to an organization that last saw him struggle in rookie ball) that he is a new and improved hurler, which could lead to a late season cameo in the South Atlantic League with the Columbia Fireflies. Manoah is young for the New York-Penn League, so holding him there for the remainder of the season may be the ultimate route.