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Arjun Nimmala, Sadaqat Safi: Two high school athletes who traded cricket for baseball

The former is a Florida shortstop preparing for the MLB Draft, while the latter is a pitcher who lifted his Iowa team to a historic win

Strawberry Crest (Florida) shortstop Arjun Nimmala is expected to hear his name called in the first round of the MLB Draft on July 9.

Sadaqat Safi this week helped Des Moines North (Iowa) snap a 103-game losing streak. 

Both are baseball players whose route to American high school diamonds has been anything but conventional.

Nimmala grew up in Florida but took frequent trips to southern India, where his parents are from, and became a skilled batsman at cricket.

Safi moved from Afghanistan to the United States in April 2022, and he shifted from bowling (the cricket equivalent of being a pitcher) to the pitcher's mound.

He pitched for the first time just two months ago, and on Tuesday he threw three big innings against Marshalltown.

Safi gave up just one earned run and picked up the win in a 10-9 game that snapped Des Moines North's 103-game losing streak.

"I'm here excited to play baseball because baseball is good," Safi told KCCI in Des Moines.

Meanwhile, about 1,500 miles southeast, Nimmala is waiting for July 9, when the 17-year-old shortstop will find out which major league team wants him most.


He's nearly a year younger than the other first-round draft prospects out of high school, and scouts love his defense and projectable power.

In his final season of high school baseball he hit .479 with six home runs, 29 RBIs, 30 runs, seven doubles and three triples while making just four errors on defense.

Nimmala got to this point despite being late to the travel-ball party that so many eventual MLB Draft prospects are privy to by middle school. 

"My parents are from India and they had no clue about the recruiting process," Nimmala told ESPN's Kiley McDaniel. "We didn't even know there was a certain thing called college commitments. We didn't even know a D-I player. It was so new and out of the blue for us."

Soon he'll have a big decision to make: stick to his college commitment to Florida State or go pro.