Arjun Nimmala makes history as highest drafted Indian American baseball player

Arjun Nimmala, 17, drafted in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays July 9, 2023.  PHOTO: Instagram @arjunnimmala99

On Sunday, July 9, 2023, a monumental step forward was taken for the All-American game of  baseball when 17-year-old Arjun Nimmala made history as the first Indian American  baseball player drafted in the first round in Major League Baseball, MLB.

Nimmala was the Toronto Blue Jays’ first-round pick and the 20th overall selection in the Major League Baseball Draft.

The student of Strawberry Crest High School in Dover, Florida, played shortstop and batted an impressive .479 in his high school career.  The 6 ‘1 player was MLB’s No. 11 draft prospect and is committed to Florida State University, according to his Perfect Game profile.

In addition to being the first Indian American baseball player to be drafted in the first round, Nimmala was one of the youngest prospects in the Draft.

Called a “manifestation of the American Dream” in an MLB Network article, Arjun Nimmala’s historic journey is just beginning. He is set to attend a two-week orientation at the Blue Jays minor league complex in Dunedin, FL, the Toronto Star reported. This is the first step toward Nimmala becoming the first Indian American to play in the MLB circuit.

As reported by Sportsnet, he won Gatorade Florida’s Baseball Player of the Year during his high school career, in 2022-23.  Nimmala was also a first-team All-Conference selection and an Under Armour All-American.

Screenshot of Zoom video, as MLB draft of Arjun Nimmala, right side frame seated front row center, is being announced, in article entitled,”Nimmala’s Draft journey an inspiration for Indian Americans like me” on website of MLB. PHOTO: Zoom screenshot

The MLB Network reported that his parents, Balu and Neeru, originally from Andhra Pradesh, immigrated to Florida in the early 2001. Nimmala spoke about growing up playing cricket and how it jump-started his love for its classic American counterpart.

In interviews, Nimmala has talked about the profound impact his culture has had on him.  He spoke about speaking Telugu, visiting his home city of Vijayawada, and praying before games and how the practices are “here to stay.”

In an interview with the MLB Network before the draft, Nimmala said he wants to impact the Indian community. “Hopefully one day I can inspire young Indian Americans to play and get more Indians in the sport,” he is quoted saying in the news report.

He also spoke about the stress that accompanies being a trailblazer in this field.  “There’s always pressure that comes with that,” he said to the MLB Network. “I’m trying to make them proud and just play for them and play for me as well.”

Veer Singh, an outfielder and pitcher for the Zoned Redhawks and senior at Franklin High School in Franklin Township, New Jersey, expressed his excitement at the news.  “It’s really cool to see somebody of Indian descent make it to the MLB, and be one of the top picks at such a young age,” Singh told News India Times.  “It’s influential not only to Indian baseball players, but all Indian athletes,” Singh added.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Navik Mehta, a Toronto resident and Blue Jays fan. “The large South Asian community in Toronto, the most diverse city in the world, cannot wait to see someone of our kind, of our skin color, represent us in the big leagues,” Mehta said in a telephone interview.

Though he will not play in an MLB game for a while, many Desi Americans are restlessly waiting for the day when they can watch one of their own play in a game often referred to as America’s greatest pastime.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here