Seated on a couch in the LSU players' lounge at Alex Box Stadium, Aaron Nola watched as his future unfolded on a flat screen TV hanging on the wall.
Accompanied by room full of family members, friends, teammates and coaches, Nola watched as MLB commissioner Bud Selig recited his name as the No. 7 overall pick to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nola had received a text message from his adviser about a minute before Selig announced the pick that read "Congratulations. You're a Phillie." So he wasn't surprised to hear his name 60 seconds later, but those butterflies were certainly fluttering.
"My heart's never beat so fast in my life," Nola said. "I was still kind of nervous, even when I knew it. But I'm glad everything's lifted off my shoulders now, and I'm ready to get started."
Succumbing to nerves was not something Nola did during his three-year career at LSU. Considered one of the best pitchers to ever don the purple and gold, Nola finished No. 3 in career strikeouts (345), No. 4 in career ERA (2.09) and No. 5 in career wins (30) in the program's record books.
Nola was twice named the SEC Pitcher of the Year, and he's one of three finalists for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award, given annually to college baseball's most outstanding player. He was a first-team All-American in 2014 and 2013, and also a first-team Freshman All-American in 2012.
He's LSU's 13th first-round pick since 1989, and the highest overall draft selection since Kevin Gausman went fourth in 2012.
When LSU coach Paul Mainieri was asked about his now draftee, he ranked Nola right at the top of his list.
"What a privilege and honor it was to coach that young man," Mainieri said. "He's as fine a pitcher that I've ever coached in my career."
Nola was the fourth pitcher taken in this year's draft, the second from the collegiate ranks. He landed with the Phillies, a team in desperate need of pitching in its minor league system.
The consensus from professional scouting reports on Nola was that he's one of the most MLB-ready prospects in this draft, and he's looking forward to taking that next step, wherever that may be.
"[The Phillies] are a great team," Nola said. "They have been for a long time. They've had a lot of great players. Everyone knows Roy Halladay, one of the Phillies' great pitchers, and I'm excited to work with those guys."
Nola also stands to make a pretty penny. The assigned slot value for the seventh overall selection is $3.3 million. So how does that sound for the 21-year-old Baton Rouge native?
"It sounds good," Nola said with a laugh. "That's a lot of money. But I'll put it away, save that stuff and live the regular minor league life."
This wasn't the first time Nola had been drafted. The Toronto Blue Jays selected him out of high school in the 22nd round. But he opted not to go pro, choosing instead to come to LSU for three seasons and perfect his craft under the tutelage of Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn.
"It definitely worked out," Nola said. "I don't regret any bit of it. I'm so glad I came to school and got to play here for three years. I've propelled since I got here, and I've gotten better. I'm ready to take that next step."
There is one thing that Nola may be a bit hesitant about moving forward. The Phillies are a National League team, so you know what that means…
"I'm going to have to hit someday," Nola said. "That's a pretty big change for me."
Nola selected seventh overall
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