Mariners Ink San Antonio's John-Austin Emmons

The Seattle Mariners signed one of the best athletes to come through San Antonio in quite some time on Thursday, inking outfielder John-Austin Emmons to a contract. Emmons will report to the Mariners' Rookie League in Arizona today, but before he does he sat down to talk to the press after signing his first professional baseball contract.

SAN ANTONIO, TX – As part of a constant search for new and talented players, the Seattle Mariners added one more to their organization on Thursday.

Fresh off an open tryout earlier this month, the Mariners and scout Kyle Van Hook signed San Antonio's own John-Austin Emmons to a contract at Nelson M. Wolff Municipal Stadium prior to the start of last night's Missions game against the El Paso Diablos.

Emmons, an outfielder from John Marshall High School, will report immediately to Peoria, Ariz. to begin play with the Mariners Rookie League team. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound signee played football at the University of Texas at El Paso and baseball at both Lamar University and Wharton College.

The 21-year-old made his name in San Antonio playing football and received many honors, including All-City honors. A former running back, Emmons graduated in 2000 as one of the highest-rated players in the city, but his love for both sports kept him on his path to baseball.

His signing is not the first time Emmons has gone through baseball's circles; he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 34th round of the 2002 Amateur Draft, but declined to sign because he still wanted to give football a try. Soon later, that changed.

"At that point in time I realized that I had a shot at playing baseball for a long time," said Emmons. "I was just looking at five-to-10 years down the line and realized that playing football was not very likely."

About 15 of Emmons' family and friends watched on as he signed the contract presented to him by Van Hook and special assignment coach/scout Buzzy Keller.

This isn't the first time the organization has had their collective eyes on Emmons. The Mariners looked at Emmons last year and followed his progress at Lamar throughout the past season. He worked out for Van Hook in Texas City one week ago and flew into San Antonio for the special try-out that was held this past Saturday at the Wolff. Emmons had been contacted before by the Mariners organization, but this time last year, Emmons broke his hand. He reflected on the interest that the organization had for him and what it meant to him to finally become a Mariner.

"I couldn't be more excited," said Emmons. "Seattle's a great organization and maybe getting a chance to play here in front of the home crowd; the only way I can describe it is a dream come true."

Van Hook talked up Emmons' athleticism and overall speed as two of the keys to making the decision.

"He came to work out this year and he tools out really well," said the Mariners scout. "He runs really well, has an average-to-solid arm and has some pop in his bat so he tools out well."

Emmons is the first San Antonio player to sign with the Mariners organization since the team's affiliation with the city began in 2001. Terms of the contract were not released by the organization, but Emmons expects to begin work in Peoria at the beginning of next week. He leaves San Antonio Friday at 6:40 a.m. for Arizona.

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