Astros reach deal with third-round pick Emanuel

The Astros have reached an agreement with third-round pick Kent Emanuel, a left-handed pitcher from North Carolina, for $747,700, a source confirmed for MLB.com. The deal is pending a physical.

Emanuel’s signing will mean the Astros have inked all of their Top 10 picks less than a month following the First-Year Player Draft. Emanuel went 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA and five complete games en route to being named ACC Pitcher of the Year and helping the Tar Heels to the College World Series.

Emanuel, who’s in Houston for a physical, said he will get on a throwing program in Florida later this week before reporting to Tri-City.

“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “It’s pretty cool knowing I get to turn baseball into a career. It’s pretty special.”

Plenty was written about Emanuel’s workload and pitch count in the NCAA regionals and College World Series, but he says he feels fine.

“My arm feels great,” he said. “Believe it or not, I just got done getting an MRI and the doctor said my shoulder and elbow look as good as any he’s seen in this Drat class. I’m good to go.”

Emanuel’s fastball tops out around 91 mph, his breaking stuff is fringy and he has a solid changeup. The lefty said that’s his main area of focus for improvement, whether he signs or not.

Yet what he lacks in pure stuff, Emanuel makes up for with pitchability. He has excellent command and knows how to mix his pitches extremely well.

Originally drafted out of high school in the 19th round by the Pirates in 2010, the Woodstock, Ga., native instead honored his commitment to UNC, where he’s had a stellar college career. He went 9-1 with a team-best 2.33 ERA as a freshman in 2011 and followed that season up by posting an 8-4 record and a 1.96 ERA in ’12.

A lack of a true out pitch seems to be Emanuel’s key limitation, but at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he’s big and strong and understands his craft, giving the Astros hope he’ll be a workhorse at the back end of their big league rotation in the future.

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