The Toronto Blue Jays selected 17-year-old shortstop Arjan Nimmala with the 20th overall pick in the first round of Sunday’s MLB Draft.
Nimmala became the highest-selected first-generation Indian American and is looking to become the first player of Indian descent to play Major League Baseball.
Nimmala was one of the highest-touted high school hitters in the draft, coming off a 2022-23 season in which he won the Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year while playing at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover, Fla. He was also an Under Armour All-American and first-team All-Conference selection.
Nimmala is very proud of his Indian Heritage and grew up playing cricket both at home in Florida and on trips back to visit family and friends in India.
At the MLB Draft Combine, the newest Blue Jay spoke about what it means to him to represent his family’s history.
“That means a lot. There are not many Indian American players in the big leagues,” he said. “For Indians, it’s mostly cricket, and the transition to baseball has been a lot.
“Hopefully, one day, I can inspire young Indian Americans to play and get more Indians into the sport.”
Nimmala told MLB.com that his father pushed toward baseball in search of a sport similar to cricket. Ever since, the 2005-born infielder has risen up the ranks — ending as the top-ranked high school infielder in 2023.
He was a consensus top-20 prospect in the draft, coming in at No. Eight in The Athletic’s rankings, No. Nine at Baseball Prospectus, No. 11 at both ESPN and MLB Pipeline and No. 17 at Baseball America.
According to MLB Pipeline, “Nimmala is all about projection. He calls himself a ‘patient-aggressive’ hitter and definitely doesn’t get cheated at the plate. He has at least plus raw power and can drive the ball to all fields, and while there are still some issues about his pitch selection and inconsistency in the quality of his at-bats that sometimes keeps him from tapping into that power, scouts are bullish about his offensive upside.” (Source:toronto.citynews.ca)