ANDERSON — When Nolan Earley heard his name called by the Chicago White Sox during the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball draft on Saturday, the first thing he did was hug his parents — Kevin and Tammy — and thank them for all the sacrifices they made to help him reach this point.
Family is a big theme with Earley, a former Anderson High School star who helped lead South Alabama to the NCAA regionals this spring. So it’s fitting he’s joining the same organization that drafted his brother, Michael, three years ago.
“It was kind of a big stress relief,” Earley said of his draft day reaction. “I really have no words to describe it. I’m just happy.”
Fortunately, others in his inner circle have plenty of words to share about Earley.
He hit .323 with three homers and 59 RBIs this season at South Alabama, the same school Highland’s Adam Lind attended before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004.
Like Lind, and nearly every other significant prospect in central Indiana for more than a decade, Earley also spent countless hours working out with White Sox scout Mike Shirley in his barn at Pendleton.
Those sessions helped produce a swing that could one day be Earley’s ticket to follow Lind to the majors.
“Obviously, we feel like he has the skills to be a corner outfielder at the major league level,” Shirley said. “With corner outfielders, the bat tool has to be something that drives the profile. And he has that.”
It also doesn’t hurt that he has a brother who is currently tearing it up for the organization at the Double-A level.
Michael Earley entered play Monday batting .293 with four homers and 20 RBIs for the Southern League’s Birmingham Barons.
His star really began to rise after a strong season at Class A Winston Salem in 2012, and he’s carried the momentum into this summer.