Earlier this offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt shortstop Didi Gregorius to the New York Yankees, clearing the path for Chris Owings to take over as the everyday shortstop in 2015. With Owings slated for the everyday role, where does that leave Nick Ahmed?
The 24-year old made his Major League debut on June 29, 2014, collecting his first big league knock that night. Ahmed appeared in a total of 25 games for Arizona and his rookie status is intact for the 2015 season. There is uncertainty surrounding his role with the 2015 club, as Owings prepares for the full-time shortstop gig and utility man Cliff Pennington will return to the team as well. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be a 25-man roster spot for the East Longmeadow, Massachusetts native.
The right-handed hitting Ahmed has shown promise offensively, but is more well-known for his defensive ability. In 25 big league games, the infielder made two errors and posted a .972 fielding percentage in 74 defensive chances. He owns a career minor league .973 fielding percentage with the bulk of his work coming at shortstop. Ahmed has seen limited duty at second base, appearing in only 16 games there as opposed to 410 at shortstop throughout his minor league career thus far.
Offensively, it’s been a roller coaster for the former University of Connecticut standout. Ahmed owns a career minor league average of .269 but struggled at the big league level to the tune of a .200 clip over 70 at-bats last season. As alluded to earlier, Ahmed has been up-and-down offensively. His 2014 Triple-A numbers were solid, hitting for a .312 average while knocking in 47 runs but a season prior Ahmed hit a mere .236 in Double-A although his RBI number was almost identical. He has above average speed and is a threat to steal bases, swiping 40 with Single-A Lynchburg in 2012. The young shortstop does not hit for too much power, consistently putting up only a handful of homeruns at each of his stops throughout the minor leagues and hit one longball in limited action with the Diamondbacks last season.
With a couple of infielders seemingly ahead of him on the organizational depth chart, a return to Triple-A Reno to begin 2015 is within the realm of possibility. If deemed expendable, Ahmed could bring decent return in a trade, or could be packaged as part of a larger deal. He is still young, only 24 years of age and there is room for development in his offensive approach with an aim for more consistency. From the numbers and trends of his minor league career, a reasonable expectation for Nick Ahmed at the Major League level would be a .260 average with a handful of home runs and roughly 45 runs batted in with above average defense.
Ahmed hasn’t really ever garnered top-prospect status but was included in the deal that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta in early 2013. His road to the big leagues has hit a roadblock for the time being, but it should only be a matter of time before Nick Ahmed is a mainstay in a big league lineup, whether that is in Arizona or elsewhere remains to be seen.