Mountaineers Enjoy Historic MLB Draft
A record eight West Virginia University baseball players were selected in the 2019 MLB Draft.
During the final day of the Draft on Wednesday, junior left-hander Nick Snyder was drafted in the 11th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, junior right-hander Kade Strowd was picked by the Baltimore Orioles in the 12th round, junior center fielder Brandon White was selected in the 17th round by the Los Angeles Angels, senior right fielder Darius Hill was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 20th round, junior catcher Chase Illig was picked in the 29th round by the New York Yankees and junior righty Sam Kessler was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 34th round.
They are joined in this year’s draft by junior right-handed starter Alek Manoah, who was the 11th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, and senior catcher Ivan Gonzalez, who was picked in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
The eight West Virginia draft picks are the most in program history, eclipsing the six Mountaineers selected in the 2001 and 2014 drafts. There have been 98 draft selection in WVU history since the first draft was held in 1965, and 28 have come in coach Randy Mazey’s seven seasons.
“I am super happy for all eight of our guys drafted this week,” Mazey said. “It’s fun to be able to watch all of these guys live out their dreams. We had a great season because we have great players, and I’m happy to see the great years these guys had be recognized.”
Alek Manoah – Toronto Blue Jays, 1st Round, 11th Overall – With the 11th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Toronto Blue Jays have selected West Virginia University junior right-handed starter Alek Manoah.
Manoah is the second Mountaineer to ever be picked in the first round, as he ties right-hander Chris Enochs for the highest draft pick in program history. Enochs was the 11th-overall pick in 1997 by the Oakland Athletics.
A Miami native, Manoah is the 91st draft selection in Mountaineer history since the first draft was held in 1965, and the 21st in coach Randy Mazey’s seven seasons.
“It’s extremely emotional to be able to be here with all my teammates, my entire family and the coaching staff,” Manoah said. “It’s been a huge blessing for me to see my dreams come true.”
“It’s hard to put into words,” Mazey said. “Our job as coaches and as parents is to make memories for these kids. This is a memory Alek will never forget, I’ll never forget and his teammates will never forget. You can check that box as far as making a memory for Alek here in Morgantown.”
Manoah is the fifth Mountaineer picked by Toronto and the first since first baseman Ryan McBroom in 2014.
The fourth first team All-American in program history and a finalist for the National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation, Manoah had one of the most dominating seasons in Mountaineer history. He is the 2019 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award. Manoah is the first player in Big 12 history to be named Pitcher of the Week three consecutive weeks and the fourth to earn weekly honors four times in a season. An All-Big 12 First Team honoree, Manoah also was the NCBWA Pitcher of the Month for April, a two-time NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and the first player to ever earn the Golden Spikes Award/D1Baseball.comPerformance of the Week award three consecutive weeks.
In an impressive junior season, Manoah broke the single-season record for strikeouts, with 144, and tied the WVU record for starts, with 16. He finished the year No. 3 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.33/1), tied for sixth in wins (9) and shutouts (2) and is No. 9 in strikeouts per nine innings (11.96).
In the national statistical rankings, Manoah is ranked No. 5 nationally in strikeouts (144), No. 12 in starts (16), No. 13 in WHIP (0.90), No. 22 in hits allowed per nine innings (5.90), No. 28 in wins (9), No. 28 in ERA (2.08), No. 29 in strikeouts per nine innings, No. 36 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.33) and No. 37 in complete games (2).
In Manoah’s three-year Mountaineer career, he ranks No. 3 all-time in strikeouts per nine innings (10.28), No. 7 in strikeouts (249) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.83), tied for No. 8 in appearances (58) and tied for No. 10 in starts (34).
Manoah owns a career ERA of 2.81 in 218.0 innings pitched. He allowed 91 runs, 68 earned, on 167 hits with 249 strikeouts and 88 walks. Manoah held opponents to a .212 batting average and recorded a 13-10 record.
Ivan Gonzalez – Chicago White Sox, 8th Round, 92nd Overall – West Virginia University senior catcher/third baseman Ivan Gonzalez has been drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
Gonzalez is the 92nd draft selection in Mountaineer history since the first draft was held in 1965, and the 22nd in coach Randy Mazey’s seven seasons. He is the 13th player picked in the top 10 rounds. The White Sox drafted Gonzalez with the 230th overall pick.
“It’s a true blessing, dreaming as a kid of getting that call and then having it actually happen,” Gonzalez said. “It hasn’t really set in yet; it’s a surreal moment after all the hard work. To see my name on that board is amazing. I am excited to go to join the White Sox organization and head to Arizona to see what they have planned for me and to begin my professional career.”
Gonzalez joins junior right-handed starter Alek Manoah as Mountaineers selected in this year’s draft. Manoah was the 11th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.
The Round Rock, Texas, native, is the fifth Mountaineer ever selected by the White Sox and the second in as many years after shortstop Jimmy Galusky (WVU 2015-18) was picked in 2018.
Gonzalez concludes his West Virginia career as one of the most consistent catchers in team history. He ranks No. 3 in career history in sacrifice flies (15), No. 4 in games played (211), fielding chances (1,498) and putouts (1,291), No. 5 in at-bats (753), No. 6 in starts (199) and tied for No. 8 in hits (230). He hit nine home runs and had 108 RBIs with a .410 slugging percentage and a .374 on-base percentage.
An All-Big 12 Second Team honoree in 2019 as a senior and a freshman All-America selection in 2016, Gonzalez was recognized with All-Big 12 Honorable Mention accolades in 2016 and 2018 and was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2016.
In his senior season, Gonzalez broke the WVU record for fielding chances, with 566, while his 60 games played and starts both rank No. 6 in program history. He was second on the team with a .397 on-base percentage and 35 walks, third with a .294 batting average, 63 hits and 15 doubles and added 31 RBIs, three home runs, a .407 slugging percentage and five stolen bases.
In 2018, Gonzalez finished fourth on the team with 11 doubles, fifth with 51 hits, 25 RBIs and 18 walks and hit .255 with one home run, a .325 slugging percentage and a .320 on-base percentage in 53 games played.
As a sophomore in 2017, Gonzalez was second on the team with a .317 batting average and fourth with a .444 slugging percentage. He had 65 hits, five home runs, nine doubles, one triple, 29 RBIs and 12 walks in 55 games.
In his Freshman All-America campaign, Gonzalez led the team with a .381 batting average and a .437 on-base percentage. In 43 games, he had 51 hits, 23 RBIs, nine doubles, three triples and 16 walks. Gonzalez’s six sacrifice flies are tied for No. 4 in a single season in team history.
Nick Snyder – Arizona Diamondbacks, 11th Round, 332nd Overall – An All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2019, Snyder also was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. He was named the Perfect Game Pitcher of the Week and one of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s national players of the week on May 6 after coming an out away from a no hitter on May 1.
Snyder finished the season No. 7 in the country in strikeouts per nine innings (13.63), No. 12 in hits allowed per nine innings (5.56) and No. 28 in wins (9). He was second on the team in strikeouts (103) and fourth in ERA (2.65). In 68.0 innings, he allowed 20 earned runs on 42 hits with 34 walks. Snyder recorded a 9-1 record as the Mountaineers went 12-1 in his starts.
In the WVU single-season record book, Snyder finished No. 6 in strikeouts per nine innings (13.63), tied for No. 6 in wins (9), tied for No. 7 in winning percentage (.900) and No. 10 in strikeouts (103).
Snyder has appeared in 23 games in his two-year Mountaineer career with 13 starts. He owns a 3.75 career ERA in 72.0 innings pitched and has allowed 30 earned runs on 46 hits with 109 strikeouts and 47 walks.
Kade Strowd – Baltimore Orioles, 12th Round, 348th Overall – Strowd was second on the team in 2019 with 15 starts, tied for fourth-most in a single season in program history, and third with 87 strikeouts. He posted a 4.73 ERA in 83.2 innings and allowed 44 earned runs on 67 hits with 59 walks.
Strowd earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and Academic All-Big 12 Second Team accolades as a sophomore in 2018. He led the team with 13 starts, four wins, 61 strikeouts and 62.2 innings pitched and allowed 40 earned runs on 67 hits for a 5.74 ERA with 36 walks.
As a freshman in 2017, Strowd made 17 appearances with eight starts and posted a 1-3 record. He allowed 29 earned runs on 48 hits with 35 strikeouts in 45.1 innings pitched for a 5.76 ERA.
In his career, Strowd has appeared in 48 games with 36 starts, which ranks No. 8 all-time in WVU history. In 191.2 innings, he has allowed 113 earned runs on 182 hits with 183 strikeouts and 123 walks and owns a 5.31 ERA.
Brandon White – Los Angeles Angels, 17th Round, 511th Overall – White earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention accolades for the third consecutive season in 2019 and added Big 12 All-Tournament Team honors. White ranked No. 37 in the country with 26 stolen bases, which was sixth-most in WVU history, and finished third on the team with 33 walks. In 57 games, he hit .272 with 53 hits, 26 RBIs, five doubles and a triple.
In 2018, White finished second on the team with 22 stolen bases, which ranked No. 6 in WVU history at the time. He was third with 33 walks, fourth with 58 hits and posted a .289 batting average with 20 RBIs, seven doubles, two triples and one home run.
White led the team with 13 stolen bases as a freshman in 2017. He hit .277 with 44 hits, 14 RBIs, four doubles and two triples in 159 at-bats with 21 walks.
In his career, White’s 61 stolen bases are second-most in school history. In 168 games, he has a .279 batting average with 155 hits, 16 doubles, five triples, one home run, 60 RBIs and 87 walks.
Darius Hill – Chicago Cubs, 20th Round, 612th Overall – One of the greatest players in program history, Hill was named to five freshman All-America teams and is a two-time ABCA All-East Region honoree. He has been recognized on the All-Big 12 Second Team three times, the Big 12 All-Tournament Team and Academic All-Big 12 Team twice and named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention once. Hill also was named a 2019 Senior CLASS Candidate.
Hill tied the Big 12 record for doubles, with 79, and also owns the WVU career records for games played (235), starts (235) and at-bats (941). He ranks No. 2 in West Virginia history in hits (304), No. 3 in total bases (454), extra-base hits (106) and sacrifice flies (15), No. 4 in runs (176), No. 5 in triples (10), No. 6 in RBIs (163) and No. 7 in fielding percentage (.991). Hill hit .323 in his career with 17 home runs, 17 stolen bases and 86 walks.
As a senior in 2019, Hill played in and started all 60 games, which is tied for sixth-most in program history, and his 34 extra-base hits rank No. 8 in a single season. He was No. 4 nationally with 25 doubles and led the team with 75 hits, 41 RBIs, 47 runs, three triples, a .521 slugging percentage, 124 total bases and 238 at-bats. Hill was second on the team with a .315 batting average and fourth with six home runs and a .376 on-base percentage.
In 2018, Hill started all 56 games and led the team with 79 hits and 20 doubles, was second with a .329 batting average, 41 hits and 115 total bases, third with 36 RBIs and two triples and added four home runs and 12 walks. His five sacrifice flies was tied for No. 7 in a single season in team history at the time.
Hill played in and started 61 games in 2017, which at the time was tied for No. 2 in WVU history in a single season in starts and No. 3 in games played. He had 244 at-bats, which ranked No. 4 in a single season in program history, and led the team with 75 hits, 46 RBIs and 14 doubles and was fourth with a .307 batting average. Hill added four home runs, one triple, 18 walks and five stolen bases.
As a freshman, Hill started all 58 games, which at the time was tied for No. 3 in team history in a single season in starts and No. 4 in games played. He led the team with 75 hits, 20 doubles, four triples and 112 total bases, finished second with a .342 batting average, 32 walks, 49 runs scored, a .511 slugging percentage and a .420 on-base percentage and was third on the team with 40 RBIs. Hill’s five sacrifice flies tied for No. 7 in a single season in team history at the time
Chase Illig – New York Yankees, 29th Round, 885th Overall – Illig, who missed the 2019 season due to an injury, is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree.
As a sophomore in 2018, Illig played in 41 games and was fifth on the team with five home runs. He hit .206 with 21 hits, 17 RBIs, four doubles, 14 runs scored and 10 walks.
Illig played in 39 games as a freshman and posted a .995 fielding percentage, which ranked No. 9 in a single season in team history at the time. He hit .242 with 22 hits, 18 RBIs, 19 walks, three home runs, three doubles and a triple.
In his career, Illig has played in 80 games with 47 starts. He has a .223 batting average with 43 hits, eight home runs, seven doubles and 35 RBIs with 29 walks.
Sam Kessler – Detroit Tigers, 34th Round, 1,012th Overall – An All-Big 12 Second Team honoree in 2019, Kessler ranked No. 3 in the Big 12 with eight saves, which was tied for second-most in a single season in program history. In 24 relief appearances, tied for No. 6 in the WVU record books, Kessler posted an ERA of 3.19 in 36.2 innings pitched. He allowed 13 earned runs on 30 hits with 46 strikeouts and 11 walks and notched a 4-3 record.
As a sophomore in 2018, Kessler made 25 relief appearances, second-most on the team and tied for fourth-most in a single season in WVU history at the time. He earned a team-high-tying four wins (4-0) with a team-best four saves. Kessler led the team with a 2.86 ERA and allowed nine earned runs on 25 hits with 32 strikeouts in 28.1 innings pitched. His nine walks were the fewest amongst pitchers with at least 10.0 innings pitched and his .227 opponent batting average was third-lowest.
Kessler earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention accolades as a freshman and made 17 appearances with two starts. He led the team with a 2.61 ERA and struck out 41, third-most amongst relievers. Kessler allowed 11 earned runs on 28 hits in 38.0 innings pitched and recorded a 1-2 record with one save.
In his career, Kessler is tied for No. 3 in team history with 13 saves and is fourth in both appearances (66) and relief appearances (64). He owns a 2.88 ERA with 33 earned runs on 83 hits allowed in 103.0 innings pitched. He has 119 strikeouts and 42 walks with a 9-5 record.
Along with West Virginia’s eight draft picks, two signees were drafted. Left-handed pitcher Daniel Batcher (Lakeland, Florida) was selected in the 33rd round by the Toronto Blue Jays and catcher Matt McCormick (Orland Park, Illinois) was drafted in the 40th round by the Cincinnati Reds.