TORONTO – Arjun Nimala knew he was with the Blue Jays as soon as he arrived in Toronto.
The 17-year-old shortstop was selected 20th overall by the Blue Jays in the July 9 Major League Baseball amateur draft. He traveled to Toronto last weekend to tour the Rogers Center, meet with the club’s front office and make his first professional debut. The baseball contract was officially announced on Monday.
“The experience was surreal. I couldn’t have written a better script,” Nimala said Wednesday during a video conference from Dunedin, Fla., after visiting the Blue Jays’ minor league complex. “All the players, coaches,[team president]Mark Shapiro,[general manager]Ross Atkins, they were so kind and welcomed me with open arms.
“Just being there and seeing the atmosphere of Toronto, I fell in love with it.”
Nimala’s visit to Toronto was his first time meeting Atkins in person, and the Blue Jays prospective prospect made a great first impression on the GM.
“It was clear he was very comfortable, appropriately comfortable, and very well-mannered,” Atkins said of Nimmala’s coolness, referring to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who grew up in MLB ballparks as the son of a big shot. He compared him to Blue Jays players like Bichette and Cavan Biggio. -League players. “He seems to have all the groundwork for what’s to come, for all the challenges in front of him, and his talent is evident.
“We were as excited as we could be, but it was special for me to be able to take it one step further and have that experience here with him here in Toronto.”
Nimala spent the last four seasons playing at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover, Florida. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Tampa native finished his 2023 high school season with 35 hits and 29 RBIs in 25 games.
382 batting average, 22 doubles, 3 triples, and 9 homers in 77 games at the high school level.
Atkins said Nimala’s unique swing stood out during the scouting process.
“There’s something unique about a high finish that feels a little abrupt at the end,” said Atkins. “I think there are a few other guys — I’m not comparing him to these guys — but Julio Rodriguez and Mookie Betts have a little higher finish and Show a more abrupt finish.
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“The most unique thing for me is its speed and power.”
Nimala is the highest-drafted player of Indian descent in any of the four major North American sports. No Indian-American has played in an MLB game.
He said he is eager to connect with the large South Asian community in the Toronto metropolitan area as he joins the Blue Jays’ major league roster.
“This will be a good starting point for my career because I have support,” said Nimala, who moved to Florida from India in the early 2000s before he was born, according to his parents, Balu and Neil. . “Even if it wasn’t for the South Asian community, I know the support is there, it’s a great city, but it’s great to have it.
“Their presence will help me a lot and I will do my best to make them proud.”
This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on July 19, 2023.
© 2023 Canadian Press