Time to shine a spotlight on Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies pitcher Kent Emanuel.
The casual fan likely hasn’t heard of Astros pitching prospect Kent Emanuel. Prior to this season, his minor league numbers were nothing spectacular. Yet through his first two starts, he’s looking like a potential future big leaguer.
The 25-year-old Emanuel was the Astros’ third-round draft pick in 2013. The left-hander played his college ball at North Carolina. He made his pro debut with four scoreless starts in 2013 at the rookie league level.
Things haven’t been the smoothest since. He posted a 4.21 ERA across two Class-A stops in 2014, then lost most of his 2015 season to injury. In 2016, he posted a 5.23 ERA in Double-A, following that up with a 4.60 ERA performance in 2017 prior to his Triple-A call-up.
Emanuel struggled mightily in Fresno last season, however. In eight starts and one relief appearance, he posted a 7.71 ERA and 2.17 WHIP. Batters hit a whopping .382 off him.
He’s righted the ship in the early going this year, though. He allowed just one run in his first 11 innings, giving up five hits and two walks. It’s a small sample size, but it’s a good sign that he’s having success against Triple-A hitters.
Considering the Astros’ lack of lefthanded relief options, one has to wonder if Emanuel might have a future in that role. But the numbers simply don’t support that possibility.
He doesn’t boast strong platoon splits, meaning his numbers against lefty hitters aren’t significantly better than against righties. He doesn’t post high strikeout totals, and he gives up his share of hits. One thing he generally does do is limit the number of walks allowed.
With that profile, it seems Emanuel is better suited to be a starter or long reliever. The Astros have good depth there for the time being, but that can always change with departures or injuries. If he keeps up this strong performance, he could line himself up for a big league job in the not-too-distant future.
***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***