Spin Cycle: UConn standout Ahmed DFA’d by D-backs 


On Wednesday evening, the Arizona Diamondbacks designated former UConn shortstop Nick Ahmed for assignment, ending a 10-year tenure with the team. The move was made to correspond with the team’s promotion of top infield prospect Jordan Lawlar, the No. 10 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com’s prospect rankings

Before he was a big leaguer, Ahmed played three seasons for UConn’s baseball program. An All-Region player for East Longmeadow High School (East Longmeadow, Massachussetts), Ahmed was an everyday player for UConn from the start of his first season in 2009. As a freshman, Ahmed batted .288 in 191 at-bats. Overall, he recorded 55 hits, 34 runs scored, two home runs and 20 RBI. The shortstop was a hit machine, racking up 13 multiple-hit games and completing a stretch of 16 straight games with a hit. 

He kept up his performance as a sophomore, batting .300 on a team-leading 267 at-bats. In the campaign, he compiled 80 hits, drove in 43 runs and walked 29 times. Ahmed also tacted on 57 runs and stole a team-high 34 bases. He even pitched in four games and did not allow an earned run over six innings. It was his junior year when Ahmed solidified himself as an MLB prospect. That season as the captain of the Huskies, he had 62 hits in 190 at-bats for a .326 batting average. Ahmed got on base at a .425 rate and stole 23 bags. During the Big East Tournament and NCAA Regional at Clemson, he hit safely in nine-straight games. After the season’s conclusion, Ahmed was named to the All-Big East Second Team and was chosen for the Clemson Regional All-Tournament Team. His performance as a junior led to him being drafted 85th overall in the second round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Atlanta Braves. 

After one season in Atlanta’s minor league system, Ahmed was shipped to the Diamondbacks in a package that sent Justin Upton to the Braves. Ahmed saw stops at the Double-A and Triple-A levels once he reached Arizona’s farm system. He wasn’t great for AA Mobile but performed well at AAA Reno, where the shortstop batted .312 and had an OBP of .373. He also slugged .425 thanks largely to 26 doubles. Though his bat was better in AAA, Ahmed always played good defense in the minors, fielding .980 and .979 at SS for Mobile and Reno, respectively. 

Ahmed got the call to the Majors in 2014. In his career for Arizona, Ahmed had taken on a defensive-minded role. He routinely hit towards the bottom of the team’s lineup since most of his contributions were meant to come on the field, where his defense has been amongst the best and most consistent of all players at the position. Over his career, Ahmed has batted .234 with a .288 OBP and .664 on-base-plus-slugging. His best offensive campaign came in 2019 when he batted .245 and had an OBP of .316. That season, he swatted 19 home runs and drove in 82 runs while adding on 33 doubles and 52 walks, all new career-highs. Along the way, Ahmed has been recognized with two Gold Glove awards to commemorate him as the best defensive shortstop in the National League, claiming the hardware in 2018 and 2019. This season before he was DFA’d, he had compiled a .212/.257/.303 AVG/OBG/SLG and hit two home runs, driving in 17. He’s the first player in D-backs franchise history to play 10 seasons with the Major League club. 

In a 2018 interview with the Arizona Republic, during Ahmed’s career-best season, UConn baseball head coach Jim Penders claimed Ahmed is the best player to take the shortstop position in Storrs: “He’s the greatest shortstop that I’ve ever seen at our level,” Penders said. “And he’d be considered one of the two greatest in major league baseball – this year, anyway, right? It would just confirm that he is the best, which all of us at UConn already know. It would be nice for him. And you know he’s not going to put his feet up. He’s going to work that much harder to win another [Gold Glove] next year.” 

Spoiler alert, he did win that Gold Glove in 2019. 

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