Emanuel made the move almost one month after Houston selected him in the third round of the June’s First-Year Player Draft.
According to MLB.com, the left-hander will be paid $747,700.
Emanuel, who had one year of eligibility remaining at North Carolina, said the decision to sign with Houston was made over time.
“I made the decision a while ago,” he said. “It wasn’t anything I was thinking about right before hand. I just think I knew I wanted to sign coming in to the draft.”
Emanuel went 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA and five complete games with the Tar Heels. He was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year following a season in which he led North Carolina to the College World Series.
In the two weeks since the Tar Heels’ season was ended, Emanuel said he returned to campus in Chapel Hill and packed up this things before spending a few days at home in Woodstock. He then flew to Houston for a physical, signed his contract and was introduced before the Astros’ game Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Emanuel’s whirlwind adventure now has him in Florida, where he will be training with the Astros’ Gulf Coast League affiliate in Kissimmee before reporting to the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Astros’ low Class A affiliate in Troy, N.Y.
“I haven’t thrown a ball in two weeks,” Emanuel said. “I’m going to throw a bit (in Florida) before reporting to Tri-City to play.”
Since reporting to Florida, Emanuel has even seen a few familiar faces from North Carolina and his Cape Cod League team. Tar Heels teammate Brian Holberton was a ninth-round pick of the Astros and signed with the team June 29.
“It’s been cool to recognize some guys,” he said. “I’m definitely not alone.”
Emanuel is excited about the future.
“Being able to know that I am going to be able to play baseball beyond school is pretty sweet,” he said. “It’s obviously something I have always wanted to do. To have it become reality is really something cool.
“I’m starting a professional career. I think that in itself is fun, just knowing that I have make the next step in the baseball world and I am one step closer to making the big leagues.”
The Astros have now signed all of their top 10 draft selections — something that makes Emanuel believe that the Houston organization is headed in the right direction. The Astros had the first overall pick and chose Stanford ace Mark Appel, who is also expected to go through conditioning in Florida before an assignment with Tri-City.
“It just shows they are making an effort,” he said. “They keep improving and getting better, and this draft class is no different. I’m just hoping that I can be a part of that and make an impact.”