LOWELL — As a child, still in elementary school and not long removed from playing tee-ball, Nick Northcut made a pledge to his family.
“Ever since I was 9-years-old, I had one goal in mind — to become a professional baseball player when I was 18-years-old!” he said. “So it’s pretty amazing to have the chance to live out my dream.”
A year and a month after making that prediction a reality, the 20-year-old Northcut is now one of the most exciting prospects for the red-hot Lowell Spinners.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound third baseman is currently ranked the No. 17 prospect in the Red Sox organization by Soxprospects.com, the No. 20 prospect by ESPN.com and the No. 19 prospect by Prospects1500.com.
Northcut entered Friday’s contest with team highs in RBIs (14) and doubles (8) and is second on the team in hits (17) as the Spinners’ No. 5 hitter.
“The season is going good,” said Northcut. “I’m starting to see the ball really well and making good contact. I feel confident and I’m ready to focus and learn something new every day.”
There was plenty of excitement around Northcut heading into the 2018 MLB Draft. He was ranked the No. 71 overall prospect in the draft by Baseball America, and the No. 81 prospect by MLB.com.
That after a senior season at Mason (Ohio) High School when he hit .374 with three homers, 24 RBIs and 34 runs scored while playing in a wooden bat league. As a relief pitcher, he was 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA, sporting a low 90’s fastball.
Northcut won 2018 Ohio high school baseball Player of the Year and earned Rawlings First-Team high school All-American honors.
He was projected as a second-round pick by Minorleagueball.com and Baseballamerica.com, and Prepbaseballreport.com called him the best high school third baseman and one of the top power hitting prospects in the draft.
But teams shied away from Northcut, who was committed to play at college baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt.
Finally, in the 11th round, the Red Sox selected Northcut with the No. 340 overall pick in the draft.
“That was a day I will never forget,” he said. “I’m extremely humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to chase my dream and pursue my career as a professional baseball player with a first-class organization like the Boston Red Sox.”
Northcut signed a deal with the Red Sox with a $565,000 signing bonus, considerably higher than the typical amount for an 11th round pick. That was more than the Red Sox gave 2018 third round pick Durbin Feltman ($559,600) and 2017 third round pick Brett Netzer ($475,000).
“It was tough (to skip college),” he said. “I come from a family of educators. My father has his doctorate and is a professor at the University of Cincinnati. My mother has her master’s degree and teaches private flute lessons.
“But with both of my parents also being professional musicians, they fully supported my decision to pursue my career as a professional baseball player and chase my dream!”
Northcut spent most of last season in the Gulf Coast League. In 41 games, he hit .232 with a homer, 20 RBIs and 12 runs. He also appeared in six games for Lowell, going 4 for 24 with a homer.
“Starting my career as a professional just a few weeks after graduating from high school, I had to grow up and adapt to my new lifestyle fast,” he said. “But struggling like I did allowed me to grow and learn every single day.”
Northcut started this spring in extended spring training, before being assigned to Lowell. He entered the weekend hitting .233 in 20 games, with a homer and 14 RBIs. And he feels he is just starting to hit his stride.
“I feel like I have grown in many ways,” he said. “I feel stronger and more explosive than I have ever been. I’ve learned so much about the game, and I’m excited to be here in Lowell.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.