Nic Ready’s wait ended early in the 23rd round with a call from the Miami Marlins.
It was then early Wednesday afternoon that the Air Force third baseman and program’s all-time leader in home runs and RBIs became the 681st player selected in the 2019 MLB draft.
“It’s been a little stressful,” said Ready, whose draft projections put him going anywhere from the eighth round through the mid-20s. “As each round goes by you get a little worried, a little nervous. It’s nerve-wracking. But I’m glad I got the call.”
The Marlins were among the teams that saw Ready play this season and kept in touch. The same organization employed Ready’s father, Randy, as a minor league manager for the Single-A Jupiter Hammerheads in 2016 and 2017 and the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in 2018.
Randy Ready played 13 years in the major leagues with five teams.
“We like the organization,” Nic Ready said. “I think it’s going to be a good fit and I’m excited to get started.”
He’ll start by reporting to the spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla., and then learning where the team will send him on his first assignment.
Ready said the Marlins contacted him at his Texas home Wednesday to make what he called a mini-agreement — essentially confirming that he would be willing to go.
“Of course I’m not going to say no,” said Ready, who played in wooden-bat leagues in summers while at Air Force and at times in high school. “It just kind of went from there.”
Shortly after he saw his name on the MLB.com draft tracker and received the call from the organization.
Ready becomes the seventh Air Force graduate drafted in baseball, joining RHP Griffin Jax (2016, third round by Minnesota), C Garrett Custons (2014, 10th round by Toronto), 1B Karl Bolt (2007, 15th round by Philadelphia), RHP Ben Yokley (2015, 29th round by St. Louis), LHP Jacob DeVries (2016, 38th round by Cleveland) and OF Adam Groesbeck (2017, 38th round by Atlanta).
Ready set Air Force records with 300 hits, 50 home runs and 224 RBIs as a four-year starter. He batted .327, posted a .365 on-base percentage and a .593 slugging percentage. He set a record with 55 home runs in winning the College Home Run Derby in July 2018, a feat that prompted President Donald Trump to call Ready to the stage during last week’s graduation and ask to feel his muscles.
The World Class Athlete Program allows qualified Air Force grads to serve on active duty while training within a two-year window of their sport appearing in the Olympic Games. With baseball returning for Tokyo in 2020, Ready — if his application is accepted — will be able to play in the Marlins' system as his full-time military job through at least June 2020. After that, if he is not selected to the Olympic team, he would likely be able to utilize leave time to play for a few more weeks or at the beginning of the 2021 season. He would be eligible to apply to serve out the remainder of his commitment on reserve status in May 2021.
Air Force 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher Jake Gilbert went undrafted through the event’s 40 rounds, and must decide whether to seek a team as an undrafted free agent in an attempt to qualify for the WCAP or go as planned to pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas.
Pine Creek right-hander Riley Cornelio also wasn’t drafted, despite entering with a No. 86 overall rating. Cornelio will attend TCU, and wasn’t shy in revealing that desire to MLB teams while playing “hard to get” in the lead-up to the draft.
Cornelio will be eligible for the draft again after his sophomore season with the Horned Frogs.