Only weeks into his professional baseball career, the clock is already ticking for Nic Ready.
(ABOVE: Jesuit and U.S. Air Force Academy graduate Nic Ready has embraced the grind and road trips that come with playing minor league baseball. Photos by John Anderson)
The former Jesuit standout was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball draft in June, and has emerged as one of the top hitters for the Batavia Muckdogs, a Class-A minor-league team in western New York.
However, since Ready played collegiately at the U.S. Air Force Academy, his transition to pro ball carries an added urgency. He’s a member of the military’s relatively new World Class Athlete Program, which allows graduates to defer their active-duty service commitment for up to 24 months to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
With baseball readmitted to the Summer Olympics for 2020 in Tokyo, Ready hopes to try out for the roster next spring. After that, he’ll have to put his pro career on hold for two years of Air Force active duty, followed by an extended reserve commitment.
In the meantime, he’s embraced the long bus rides and two-star hotels that are hallmarks of the minor-league experience in Batavia and elsewhere.
“It’s a little faster, but it’s the same game I’ve been playing since high school. I think I’ve adjusted well.” -Nic Ready
“It’s been a blast, transitioning to that non-glamorous lifestyle,” Ready said. “It’s a little faster, but it’s the same game I’ve been playing since high school. I think I’ve adjusted well.”
Ready’s opportunity came after a decorated career as a third baseman for the Falcons. This spring, he broke the Air Force career record with 50 home runs. In 216 collegiate games, the right-handed slugger also finished with a .327 batting average and 224 runs batted in.
Jesuit won 35 games and reached the Class 6A state semifinals during Ready’s senior season in 2015. One of his teammates on that squad, former West Virginia outfielder Darius Hill, was drafted this spring by the Chicago Cubs and is playing for their Class-A affiliate in Eugene, Oregon.
Ready evolved from the contact hitter with the Rangers to more of a slugger in college. His power surge led to perhaps the biggest highlight of his career so far: He won the 2018 College Home Run Derby in Omaha, Nebraska.
As the first member of any service academy to participate in the postseason competition, Ready said it was a way to spotlight an Air Force baseball program that hasn’t been historically successful.
“That was definitely huge to be on that stage,” Ready said. “It was a way to thank those who had gotten me there.”
After his military commitment, Ready plans to resume his baseball career, although he knows that under the circumstances, his MLB hopes are a long shot.
“I’ve wanted to be a Major League Baseball player ever since I was a little kid,” Ready said, “It would be a dream come true.”