SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury share more than the common goal of breaking into the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster. They’ve been roommates dating back to their early years in the Atlanta Braves organization.
It worked in Danville, Va., where they were teammates in the Atlanta farm system.
“We became good friends and good teammates there,” Ahmed said.
And it works now since the two were traded together in a deal that sent Justin Upton to the Braves in the 2013 offseason.
“It’s awesome,” Drury said. “When I got traded, to have a guy that I was really close with come over with me, so it wasn’t everything totally new.”
Knowing they wouldn’t be making the trip alone made it more manageable.
“There were some mixed emotions,” Ahmed said. “I saw Brandon was also involved with the deal, called him up.”
“When you get traded to a new team, it’s new guys, new everything,” Drury said. “Having a buddy like him to come with me helped a lot.”
Both infielders have rotated through the D-backs minor league teams for the past two years, but in their third spring with the team they’re hoping to make an impact at the Major League level.
Drury is attracting attention as a young power option at second and third base. He was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB draft. The 22-year-old is now pegged as one of the strongest up-and-comers in the organization.
Manager Chip Hale drew comparisons to second baseman Dan Uggla, who was originally drafted by the D-backs in 2001 and went on to an All-Star career with the Marlins.
“[Drury] is just so talented,” Hale said. “His bat is pretty impressive. It’s just a matter of getting at-bats in games to see if he’s ready. We saw Uggla here, and Drury is definitely already a better defensive second baseman than he ever was.”
Ahmed is among four players fighting for a starting spot in the middle infield. After playing college baseball at UConn, Ahmed was taken in the second round of the 2011 draft. He got his first big league call-up last June, posting a .200 batting average in 25 games.
“Right now, his best strength is as our utility man,” Hale said. “But you just never know going into the season.”
Trey Lanthier is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between Arizona Sports 98.7 and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.