The revolving door at shortstop for the Diamondbacks has turned again as Arizona will send rookie Chris Owings to the disabled list and promote Nick Ahmed from Triple-A Reno, the team announced this morning.
Ahmed, 24, has always been known for his glove – he won the 2013 Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove Award at shortstop – but he has raked this year at Triple-A Reno. Prior to the call-up, he had hit he had hit .324/.390/.431 with ten stolen bases In 79 games and 336 plate appearances. The offensive display has been a refreshing surprise for Arizona, whose expectations for the young shortstop had gone down last year.
After coming over as one of four players the Diamondbacks received in the 2012 deal that sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta, Ahmed struggled mightily with the bat in his first season with Arizona. He got on on base at a .288 clip and slugged just .324 in his first season at Double-A.
Naturally, his stock fell with his performance and the former second round pick went from a mid-tier prospect to a fringe one. Prior to the season, he was listed by MLB.com as just the 18th best prospect in the Diamondbacks’ middling farm system.
Although part of Ahmed’s strong showing this year is certainly the result of playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, the defensive minded infielder has clearly shown true improvement with the bat.
He’s certainly impressed the Diamondbacks. Ahmed wasn’t Arizona’s only option to replace the injured Owings; the team could have also gone with fellow 24 year old Didi Gregorious, who served as their starting shortstop last season and was having his own solid campaign in Reno.
The fact that Arizona had two options to replace a different talented young shortstop in Owings is a testament to their tremendous depth at the position. Assuming Ahmed performs adequately in his upcoming big league stint, the D’backs have three high upside, starting caliber shortstops under the age of 25 and under team control for at least five more seasons. These are valuable assets, assets that could be moved in the coming months as this team looks to retool their struggling roster.