JACKSON TWP. A dream years in the making recently came true for Kyle Nicolas.
The former Jackson High School and Ball State standout was drafted in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft, going to the Miami Marlins with the 61st overall pick.
"It's definitely special to have a dream come true for a goal that you've been working toward for years," Nicolas said.
He received the news from his advisor just moments before the pick, and later heard the Marlins' area scout welcoming him to the organization.
The pick not only capped off an exciting journey to professional baseball for Nicolas, but an amazing day for Jackson baseball, which had not one, but two players picked in the second round.
Nicolas' former teammate, Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler, went with the first pick of the second round to the Detroit Tigers.
Dingler, ranked by many media outlets as one of the top catchers in the draft, was predicted in some mock drafts to go in the first round.
His selection with the 36th pick gave Jackson two draft picks in the first 61 selections and was another proud moment for longtime Jackson head coach Bill Gamble.
"It's awesome that Dillon started off day being the first pick on day two and it's cool to see him be picked," Nicolas said. "I was exited to see him picked."
Both players had a unique draft and pre-draft experience. College baseball had barely begun its season when the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a halt.
That meant instead of showing scouts what they could do on the college playing field, draft prospects had to rely on their existing game film and Zoom interactions to make their case with teams.
"It was definitely weird have to judge me by four games this season and weird not being able to prove myself in person," Nicolas said. "Mostly it was Zoom calls."
Leading up to the draft and since, Nicolas has tried to stay in shape lifting and throwing on his own.
Recently, the local facility where he throws, Diamond Dreams, reopened and he's been able to throw there with some other former Jackson players who are current minor leaguers whose seasons never got started and are trying to stay in shape while they wait on baseball to resume.
The ongoing uncertainty with Major League Baseball has their future - and Nicolas' own future - in doubt. MLB and its players remained at odds on when and how to stage a 2020 season for months before a deal to play a 60-game schedule was officially announced on Wednesday.
Because of the uncertainty, players have not been assigned to minor league teams and draftees such as Nicolas and Dingler have no way of knowing when their rookie league seasons will take place.
"For me, the best way to do that (stay ready) is to take it day by day and do everything you need to do each day, staying on your lifting schedule and throwing schedule," Nicolas said.
For now, he's enjoying the realization of his dream, even if he admits he and Dingler didn't necessarily have many conversations about someday being drafted back when they suited up for the Polar Bears.
"I don't think we talked about it too much because it didn't seem like a realistic dream back then, but we went to college and we both got a lot better," Nicolas said.
If that dream continues to play out, there's the hope that some day, Nicolas will make it to the majors and have a chance to play in a stadium not far from Jackson, one where his family, friends and former coaches can be in the stands and see him take the mound as a major leaguer.
The Marlins, he noted, asked if he prefers to start or come out of the bullpen and while he told the team he'd like to start, he knows that once he begins his career, he'll be happy to contribute wherever he's needed.
Getting where he wants to go will take years or work and progress, but then again, that's exactly what's gotten him to this point.