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Lee County's Nichols to sign with Angels

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

LEESBURG -- Quick hands, quick bat -- quick decision.

That's Thomas Nichols.

The Angels picked him last Tuesday in the 16th round of the Major League Draft.

Nichols, a former star at Lee County High and Herald Player of the Year in 2007 who is coming off a big junior season at Georgia Tech, told The Herald late Monday he will sign with the Angels today.

"They came through with the right deal so there's no reason to wait,'' Nichols said. "I'm pretty excited about it.''

Nichols will fly to the Angels' facility in Tempe, Ariz., on Thursday, spend a couple of days in mini-camp and then join the Orem Owlz in Utah, where he will begin his pro career in the Single A Pioneer League.

"I didn't lose any sleep over making the decision,'' Nichols said. "My agent and I discussed (what kind of signing bonus) I might get based on what players got in the 16th round, and it's a good deal.''

Nichols, who played third base for the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets, was the second-leading hitter (.384) and second in on-base-percentage (.519) and seventh (.652) in slugging percentage in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Nichols told The Herald last week that he was ready for a pro career, and had no trouble foregoing his senior year in college, because he could always come back later and get his degree.

He is relieved to have the decision out of the way and his future clearly set.

"It's definitely a load off my mind,'' he said. "I'm not worrying about whether you're headed, whether to go back to school for another year or start playing pro ball. I have somewhere to be. I'm on my way.''