MORGANTOWN — Alek Manoah’s name will be among the first called in next week’s Major League Baseball draft.
Before that, however, the West Virginia University junior right-hander has more work to do with the Mountaineers hosting NCAA tournament games this weekend for the first time since 1955.
Manoah will get the ball for West Virginia on Saturday against either Texas A&M or Duke in likely his last collegiate start before knowing his MLB destination. If all goes as planned this weekend, he’ll still have some work to do for the Mountaineers next weekend.
“We know the kind of team we have,” Manoah said Thursday. “Our demeanor is to come out and win this thing. There is not any extra pressure. We’re the No. 1 seed [in the region] for a reason. We love playing with each other and if we go out there and take care of business, we’ll be moving on.”
The 6-foor-6 Miami native, who is projected to be one of the first college pitchers taken in the draft’s first round on Monday, said he has an adviser helping his family with all things professional baseball while his singular focus is winning NCAA tournament games for the Mountaineers.
MLB.com’s most recent first-round mock draft projected Manoah to the Philadelphia Phillies with the No. 14 overall pick. The Athletic’s most recent mock draft has him going to the Atlanta Braves at No. 9. He is also a finalist for the College Baseball Foundation’s Pitcher of the Year award and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top player in college baseball.
“My job is just to throw a baseball, man,” Manoah said. “I can’t control where I go. I can’t control anything on draft night, I can just control what I do before then, how I throw that baseball and just hope it all works out.”
Being busy with West Virginia’s postseason run has, however, helped Manoah avoid dwelling too much on those things he can’t control, he said.
“[Baseball] helps a lot,” Manoah said. “I’ll throw Saturday and we’ll still have games on Sunday maybe and games on Monday. I’m sure if I were to get a chance to just sit down with no baseball going on, I would think about it a little more. I just keep my mind on the season and trying to play in the Super Regional.”