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Didi Gregorius off to hot start with Triple-A Reno

Relegated to the minors, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Didi Gregorius has been on fire in his first 13 games with Triple-A Reno.

After hitting .252 with a .332 on-base percentage in 103 games with the Diamondbacks in 2013, Gregorius entered spring training in a position battle at shortstop with prospect Chris Owings, last season’s Pacific Coast League MVP. The 24-year-old struggled in spring training, hitting just .222 with four RBI and two doubles.

Both Owings and Gregorius got a start in the Diamondbacks’ two-game series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney, Australia, but Owings came away the eventual victor in the shortstop battle, prompting general manager Kevin Towers to option the Curaçao native Gregorius to Reno.

In 13 games and 48 at-bats with the Aces, Gregorius is hitting .354 with six extra-base hits, five RBI and an on-base-plus-slugging clip of .968. Owings, meanwhile, is faring nearly as well at the plate at the major league level, logging a .320 batting average and a .370 on-base percentage with four stolen bases.

It should be noted that Reno’s circuit, the Pacific Coast League, is renowned as a hitter’s league. And Aces ballpark itself is considered one of the better hitter’s parks in the minor leagues, due to its high elevation of 4,400 feet. Only Coors Field sits at a higher elevation than Reno’s home field among major league venues. Nine of Gregorius’ first 13 games of the season have been played at Aces Ballpark.

Gregorius has also seen time defensively at second base with the Aces, per an organizational initiative to diversify his defensive competency. Nick Ahmed, a prospect making his way through the ranks since being traded to the Diamondbacks by the Atlanta Braves in 2012, has gotten the majority of the reps at shortstop, with eight of Gregorius’ first 13 defensive appearances coming at second base.