Man pitching baseball
Nick Garcia '21 was selected in the third round of 2020 Major League Baseball draft. Photo credit: Larry Newman

Pirates Select Chapman Pitcher in Third Round of MLB Draft Nick Garcia '21 is Panthers' first top-three pick since the university moved to Division III in 1995.

All American pitcher Nick Garcia ’21 made Panther baseball history on June 11, when he was picked in the third round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-hander was the 79th overall pick during an exceptional draft year, as the season was suspended and the draft shortened to only five rounds due to COVID-19.

“I’m absolutely amazed – it’s a dream come true. I’m so thankful for everyone who got me here,” said Garcia, from his family home in San Carlos, California.

 “I’m eternally thankful for everything that the university has given me. It’s been a key component of my success. So many people pushed me in the right direction and made me work harder and better every day. They never let me stray away from my goals.”

Rising in the Ranks

Garcia became the 66th player in Chapman baseball history to be selected in the MLB draft, but he’s only the second chosen within the first three rounds. The other is Don August, also a pitcher, who was selected in 1984, prior to the university switching from Division II to Division III in 1995.

“Nick is a very talented pitcher, an excellent student, a first-class person and never shied away from putting in the work to reach this opportunity,” said Terry Boesel, Chapman director of athletics. “We are extremely proud but not at all surprised by his third-round selection in the MLB draft. He has a tremendous work ethic and has earned this amazing opportunity to pursue his dreams of pitching professionally. His rise from an unknown pitcher to the 79th overall pick over the last two years is truly a testament to the type of student-athlete that comes out of Chapman.”

While Panther baseball is no stranger to success, the rarity of the occasion is a momentous moment for all of Chapman athletics.

“Division III athletes just don’t go this high in the draft,” said Doug Aiken ’99 (M.A. ’09), Chapman’s associate director of athletics. “It is a rare and special achievement for Nick, and he is a rare and special talent to be picked in the third round out of a non-scholarship program like Chapman.”

Chapman head baseball coach Scott Laverty said he “could not be more proud of Nick and what he has accomplished here at Chapman! His hard work and dedication to the Chapman experience helped him earn the great opportunity he now has with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop.”

Next on Deck

From here, Garcia will be meeting the organization and getting more acquainted with Pirates team leadership. The business administration major and psychology minor is finishing his degree in the fall  online.

He says off-season training is on hold for the moment, but he’s hopeful there will be a clearer plan for  fall training at the Pirates’ facilities in Florida.

Formerly a closer, Garcia switched to being a starting pitcher this season. Armed with a three-pitch mix and a fastball speed in the mid-90s, he shot up draft boards before COVID-19 caused an untimely season end.

He helped Chapman to the 2019 NCAA Division III national championship, going 9-0 with 12 saves and a microscopic 0.64 earned run average. In 56 innings over 30 relief appearances, he struck out 82 batters and allowed just four earned runs.

Baseball player holding trophy
Nick Garcia ’21 holds the trophy for the 2019 NCAA Division III Baseball National Championships.

Garcia is the highest baseball draft pick from an NCAA Division III program since 2012 and is the fourth-highest draft pick in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history.

This year’s draft marks the third year in a row that Chapman has had a player selected – the longest active streak for any Division III program.

Chapman won its third national title in 2019 and was ranked in the top 10 for all of the 2020 season. The Panthers were 12-3 when the season abruptly ended in March.

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Brittany Hanson

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