Nick Ahmed is a professional baseball player.

“Obviously, it’s been my goal for a long time to play professional baseball,” Ahmed said from Pulaski, Virg. where his Danville Braves squad take on the Mariners’ short-season rookie team. “Going into college, I didn’t think we’d have as much success we did. But this step that I’m taking is something my teammates and I had been thinking about for a while.”

Ahmed’s UConn team was recently knocked out of the NCAA Tournament just two wins shy of the College World Series. The Huskies were bounced by defending champion South Carolina in the Super Regional last Sunday. On Thursday, Ahmed signed his first professional contract.

Clearly, he was eager to get his career started.

“It was a pretty simple process,” he said. “They made an offer and I was excited to go out and play.”

The Braves operate as a slot team and adhere to Major League Baseball’s suggested draft signing bonuses for first-year rookies. According to Baseball America, Ahmed was given a $417,600 signing bonus upon signing.

“I’ve never played baseball for money,” Ahmed said. “Any money is a bonus for me to have the opportunity to go out and try to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues.”

Ahmed was quick to sign with the Braves and was advised that the bonus dollars to potentially hold out for aren’t worth it in the long run. Ahmed’s agent is Barry Meister, an established sports agent out of the Chicago area.

Ahmed, who was drafted as a shortstop may also be considered as a pitching prospect. As a reliever in his career at UConn, Ahmed had his fastball clocked in the 91-94 MPH range.

Ahmed recently finished up his junior year at UConn. He has two semesters left before completing his sport management degree and a scholarship program was built into his contract with the Braves for when he is ready to complete his education.

After signing on Thursday, Ahmed quickly reported to Danville where he’s already amidst his first minor league road trip. After the stint in Pulaski, Ahmed’s squad will head to Bluefield to take on the Blue Jays’ short-season affiliate.

As Ahmed barn-storms throughout the mid-Atlantic, his hometown celebrates his fortune and hopes the former East Longmeadow high school scholar athlete attains his goals.

“There’s no doubt he’ll be hardest worker on that team,” said Kevin Magee, who coached Ahmed at East Longmeadow. “Nick deserves everything coming to him.

“He has been working so hard for the past 15 years to get to this point. Everyone in East Longmeadow is proud of him and rooting for him.”

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