Cherokee players ready for Major League draft
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
June 05, 2013 11:47 PM | 1939 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Carolina's Kent Emanuel pauses late during a game against Towson at the NCAA college baseball tournament regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, June 1, 2013. North Carolina won 8-5. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)
North Carolina's Kent Emanuel pauses late during a game against Towson at the NCAA college baseball tournament regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, June 1, 2013. North Carolina won 8-5. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)
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The next few days could go a long way in determining the future for a few Cherokee County baseball products.

Major League Baseball will hold its First Year Players Draft today through Saturday and a handful of local players could hear their names called.

Leading the pack of potential draftees is a pair of college players, who spent their high school years at Woodstock High School. Kent Emanuel and Zach Bricknell both wrapped up their collegiate careers with stellar seasons.

Emanuel, who is wrapping up a career at the University of North Carolina, is billed as a left-handed pitcher with a fastball in the low-90s, a solid changeup and a curveball with excellent command.

Emanuel was selected once before— by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 19th round of the 2010 draft— just out of high school. As expected, he didn’t sign at that time and went on to Chapel Hill, where he developed into what may be a first-round selection today. Listed at 6-4, 190 pounds out of high school, he added over 30 pounds to his frame and became more effective than ever.

Emanuel is currently being targeted by the New York Mets, among other teams. It is unlikely he will be taken with the Mets’ first-round pick, but he could go in the second round with the 48th pick.

"The next few days should be fun," Emanuel said.

Bricknell, who played at Young Harris College, set the single-season record for home runs by breaking the mark formerly held by another former Woodstock standout and current Baltimore Oriole, Nick Markakis.

Bricknell, an outfielder, said that he didn’t pay much attention to professional scouts during his senior season with the Mountain Lions because he didn’t want it to become a distraction.

“My coach (Rick Robinson) doesn’t want it to go to my head,” said Bricknell. “He has been handling all of that, but I know there has been some interest.”

In 48 games as a senior, Bricknell batted .326 with 41 runs scored, 68 RBIs and 22 home runs.

Also in the draft mix are a few players from Etowah High school, including a pair of 2013 graduates. Tanner Shelton and Bryan White have both had workouts with pro teams leading up to the draft.

Meanwhile, a former Eagle who is currently playing at Mercer, Brandon Barker, has drawn attention as a right-handed pitcher.

“It’s all speculation, but all three of them had outstanding years and careers, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were taken,” said Etowah coach Greg Robinson.

Former Creekview players Christian Van Camp and Steven Whitaker could also be late selections.

Van Camp, a left-handed first baseman and outfielder, just completed his senior season at Gwinnett College after starting out at Georgia Perimeter College.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he was picked at some point,” said Van Camp’s high school coach Mike Nayman. “He was in our first graduating class over here.”

Whitaker, on the other hand, just graduated a couple of weeks ago. But according to Nayman, he drew some attention last summer and during the fall.

“I wouldn’t be surprised it someone took a chance on either of those guys,” said Nayman.

The first two rounds will be held today at 7 p.m. Rounds 3 through 10 will begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday and rounds 11 through 40 will begin Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Houston Astros have the first pick of the draft, followed by the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. The Atlanta Braves will have the 31st pick overall.
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