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Better know a draft prospect: Arjun Nimmala

One of the youngest players in the draft brings big time power.

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Baseball: Perfect Game All-American Classic Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In India, cricket is the sport of choice. But North Americans of Indian descent are beginning to make their presence known in baseball. Canadian-born Farhan Zaidi led the San Francisco Giants to a 107-win season after helping the Dodgers win the pennant. Karan Patel is thought to be the first player of Indian descent to be drafted, when the White Sox took him in 2019. Kumar Rocker, the son of an Indian-American mother, was a first-round pick by both the Mets and Rangers. But the first big Indian-American baseball star could be a skinny kid from Florida named Arjun Nimmala.

The son of Indian immigrants, Nimmala grew up playing cricket, as well as baseball, basketball, and soccer as he grew up in the Tampa area in Florida. It soon became clear he should focus his talents on baseball, however, and he was quickly on the radar of college scouts as a high school freshman for his wiry strong build and raw power.

A right-handed hitter, Nimmala has “quick-twitch hands and a whippy bat that allow him to make impressive impact” according to Baseball America. If he lives up to his potential, scouts think he could be a 25-30 home run hitter at shortstop. The Florida State commit is likely to be a top ten pick in this year’s draft, with Keith Law of The Athletic ranking him as the #8 prospect in this draft, Kiley McDaniel of ESPN and MLB Pipeline have him #11, and Baseball America has him #19.

Baseball covets youth, and Arjun Nimmala is young. He won’t turn 18 until after the draft, making him one of the youngest players available and a very attractive prospect for scouts to project. His 6’1’’ frame, strength, and age gives scouts “Carlos Correa, Javier Baez and Alfonso Soriano vibes” according to McDaniel. Keith Law writes he has a “strong swing that makes excellent use of his hips to generate that contact quality.” MLB Pipeline does note that there are “some issues about his pitch selection and inconsistency in the quality of his at-bats.” While his hit tool has a lot of projectability, scouts concede he isn’t there yet as a finished product.

Nimmala is an above-average defender at short and could stick at the position, although he is not considered a plus defender. He is an average runner and even slow out of the box for someone with his speed. It seems clear that what will get him to the big leagues is his power potential at a premium defensive position.

Nimmala has impressed scouts with his makeup and maturity at a young age. He worked out with Francisco Lindor of the Mets in the off-season and already carries himself with a lot of poise for a kid who didn’t even participate in travel ball showcases in middle school because his parents were unaware of the entire recruiting process.

A team that drafts Nimmala will likely have to be patient as he is so young and will need to to refine his swing and adjust to the pros. But shortstops with big time power don’t grow on trees, and Nimmala could be the first Indian-American slugger in Major League Baseball.