toronto blue jays arjun nimmala

Toronto Blue Jays' draft pick could become first player of Indian descent in MLB

When the Toronto Blue Jays made their first selection at this year's MLB Draft on Sunday, he already emerged as a potential history-making candidate.

With their first-round pick at 20th overall, Toronto took shortstop Arjun Nimmala from Strawberry Crest High School in Dover, Florida. Fans were immediately excited about his potential to join the franchise one day, with Nimmala batting .479 with six home runs, 29 RBIs and 30 runs in his senior high school season.

But much of the buzz around the pick also stems from his upbringing: Nimmala's parents emigrated to the United States from the Andhra Pradesh province in India, making him the highest-drafted first-generation Indian American in MLB history.

"That means a lot — there's not many Indian-American players in the big leagues. For Indians, it's mostly cricket. The transition to baseball has been a lot,' said in an interview with MLB Network at last month's Draft Combine. "Hopefully, one day, I can inspire young Indian-Americans to play and get more Indians in the sport."

There has never been a player of Indian descent to crack a major league roster, though Nimmala's talent could make him the first to do so.

"I've always been a belief of mine that I can hang with the best, but kind of at the age of 12 was when I first [felt like I had a shot going pro]," Nimmala added at the MLB Draft Combine. "It was really young when I realized it was a good bit of talent."

Nimmala joins 2022 third overall draft pick Kumar Rocker, a second-generation Indian-American, as another high-profile prospect of Indian descent.

At just age 17, it's likely a while before the Blue Jays will bring Nimmala to the big club. But at the very least, it's hardly a bad thing to generate a little extra buzz and excitement around an event most casual baseball fans have tuned out for years.

Lead photo by

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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