The former Woodstock High School ace, in the midst of his junior season at North Carolina, was selected by the Houston Astros with the first pick of Friday’s portion of the draft. He was selected in the third round, at 74th overall.
“It’s funny,” Emanuel said. “I was in the weight room and just heard the news when I got out. It was exciting. It’s flattering to be picked by any major league team and being here.”
The left-hander said he followed the draft Thursday during the first two rounds, but he hadn’t tuned in yet Friday when his name was called shortly after 1 p.m.
Emanuel admitted that he didn’t know much about the Astros, aside from playing in a tournament at Minute Maid Park earlier this spring. He plans to study the American League club when North Carolina’s season is complete.
“I like them now, I guess,” Emanuel said of the Astros. “To be honest, I don’t know much about any of the teams. I didn’t try to get into it too much and give myself unnecessary stress. Now that I have been picked by them, I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot about them and their history and minor league teams and all. As of now, though, I don’t know much about them.”
Emanuel said he will give the decision of whether or not to sign with Houston plenty of consideration, but first he wants to focus on what North Carolina is facing — a Super Regional series with South Carolina. The Tar Heels’ series-opening game with the Gamecocks was postponed due to rain Friday.
Emanuel feels he has already had a successful career in three seasons at North Carolina, and should he depart, he doesn’t want to leave behind
any unfinished business.
“We will see what happens, but it will take a lot of time to figure things out,” he said. “I’m really focused on the postseason at (North) Carolina. We are having a blast this year. Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do to reach our goal. I’m a part of something special with this Carolina team, and we have a big test ahead this weekend.”
Emanuel was drafted out of high school, as an 18th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, but he decided to honor his commitment to North Carolina.
It was a good decision for him, as he’s improved in each season with the Tar Heels. Emanuel entered the Super Regional with an 11-3 record, 2.36 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 120 innings.
If Emanuel does go pro, he could have a familiar face catching his pitches in the minors. The Astros drafted North Carolina catcher Brian Holberton in the ninth round.
With a solid command on the mound and four pitches in his repertoire, he has drawn comparisons to veteran major league pitcher Mark Buehrle. Emanuel’s MLB.com scouting profile said “he gets the job done, albeit without ‘wow’ kind of stuff.”
Emanuel was the third player — all pitchers — Houston drafted to fill out its farm system. The Astros selected Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the first overall pick Thursday, then selected California-Irvine’s Andrew Thurman in the second round.