The clock was ticking down Thursday. The Major League Baseball draft was limited to just five rounds this time around, and with maybe 10 minutes left, Stevie Emanuels hadn’t heard his named called.
The University of Washington pitcher believed he had the stuff to have been picked much earlier in the draft, but with the selections down to the final handful and only two minutes allotted to each pick, there was less than 10 minutes remaining in his dreamed to be drafted.
Not that there was much riding on hearing his name. A fifth-round pick could expect a signing deal worth something north of $300,000. A non-drafted played would get a maximum of $20,000.
Then, with just four picks left in the draft, Emanuels heard the Oakland A’s call his name. He was the 157th of 160 players selected.
“Obviously there was a lot of stress,” Emanuels said. “The good thing was that my advisors had been talking to the A’s front office during the draft, so they had already expressed interest. I was pretty confident that I was going to be taken. So, while I was freaking out, I was also relatively assured that it was going to happen.”
A 6-foot-5, 210-pounder, Emanuels was s setup reliever as a freshman for the Huskies, the closer as a sophomore, then was put into the role he coveted, starting, this year as a junior. He only got in four starts before the season got shut down thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Emanuels, who also had three starts last year in the Cape Cod summer league, was 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 22.2 innings for Washington before the shutdown.
“I’d actually hoped that I would start as a sophomore, but I really kind of enjoyed closing,” Emanuels said. “But starting in the Cape league and then this season. I just started realizing that I’m really most comfortable as a starter.”
A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota said the plan is to have Emanuels be groomed as a starter. Just when that process will begin, however, no one knows.
Emanuels hasn’t pitched in a game since early March, and he’s kept in pitching shape the best he can while throwing to his brother, a high school senior, and several of his UW teammates who have remained in the Seattle area during the pandemic.
His parents have built a mini-gym pin the family garage in which he can work out, and the local gym he’s been going to for years is about ready to open up.
What Emanuels doesn’t know is whether he will be pitching in a game, or even throwing while wearing an A’s uniform this calendar year. The club hasn’t announced if the draftees and those free agent players who sign in the next week or so will be gathered together to work out. There are suggestions that they will, and he’s hoping that’s so, but first he has to sign a deal, which he says could happen in the next few days.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors that there may not be a minor league season,” he said. “So, I’m not super-confident that I’ll be playing games. But I am hoping that I can come down and work out and get in front of the coaches and start working on some things. It’s a tough time, so we’ll have to see.”
The one thing Emanuels is sure of is that he wants to add about 10-15 pounds and build up his strength. He comes to the A’s with a good two-seamer in the low-to-mid 90-mph range that moves in and sinks.
“My best off-speed pitch is my slider, and then I have a changeup that I’m comfortable throwing that I think is really good,” he said. “I do throw a four-seam fastball, too, so it’s a pretty efficient mix of pitched. And I might try to add a curveball as we get further along.”
But first he has to get back on the mound.
“I can’t wait,” he said.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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