Prospect Nix enrolls at IMG Academy, eyes '15 Draft

HOUSTON -- Jacob Nix, the former high school pitcher who went unsigned after being drafted by the Astros last year, has enrolled in IMG Academy's post-graduate program for the spring 2015 semester and will play for the academy's post-graduate team.

Nix, a right-hander out of Los Alamitos High School in California taken in the fifth round by Houston, was scheduled to report to IMG's facility in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday and begin working out. IMG Academy is multisport training and education complex that boasts 950 students, about 115 of whom are baseball players.

Dan Simonds, director of baseball at IMG, said Nix will get about 8-10 starts for the IMG post-graduate team, which he compared to a good junior college-level team. The post-grad team, which is made up of recent high school graduates, will face JUCO teams and Division III junior varsity teams.

Nix will also get assistance in strength and conditioning and nutrition as well as his work on the baseball field. The goal is to get him ready for 2015 First-Year Player Draft, Simonds said.

"Hopefully, we help him hit the ground running and when he ends up signing in June, he's that much more prepared for professional baseball," Simonds said. "He wants to pitch. He's a very competitive kid. It's not like he wants special treatment or anything like that. He wants to go out there and compete."

Nix had agreed to sign with the Astros, but the deal fell through after the Astros couldn't sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken, a high school left-hander.

Nix initially had an agreement in place with the Astros and traveled to Houston for a physical exam, but that deal wasn't finalized after Aiken's original $6.5 million offer was withdrawn after Aiken's physical exam revealed what the club cited as some issues with the southpaw's pitching elbow. Houston later offered Aiken a $5 million deal, but he declined and Nix wound up without an offer of his own due to the reduced pool of signing bonus money.

Rather than exceed the dollars allotted for Nix's Draft slot and get penalized by the forfeiture of future Draft choices, the Astros wound up not signing Nix. The MLB Players Association filed a grievance on Nix's behalf with Major League Baseball, which was dropped after Nix and the Astros reached an undisclosed settlement last month.

Nix pitched for the U.S. 18-and-under national team at the World Cup in Taiwan, leading the team to its second straight World Cup title. Nix also pitched for the Brewers squad at the 2013 Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and was a 2013 Third Team Perfect Game Underclass All-American.

In 2014, he earned Perfect Game Second Team All-American honors and was named to the California All-Region First Team. Also, Nix was named California Sunset League Pitcher of the Year in 2012 as a sophomore. That year, he led his Los Alamitos to the Sunset League title, going 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA and 41 strikeouts on the year, including a no-hitter.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.