One of the interesting prospects in the Atlanta Braves’ farm system is shortstop Nick Ahmed, who was a second round pick in the 2011 draft out of Connecticut.
The 6’3”, 205-pound right-handed hitter had a very successful first full professional season in 2012. Ahmed hit .269 for Lynchburg with six home runs, 49 RBI, 36 doubles, 40 stolen bases and a .337 on base percentage. He led the Carolina League in doubles and stolen bases.
Ahmed then went to the Arizona Fall League and was equally impressive. He hit .288 with one home run, 10 RBI, three doubles, three triples, 10 RBI, five stolen bases and had an on base percentage of .361.
Ahmed will turn 23 in mid-March, and he’ll undoubtedly move up to Double-A Mississippi this season to continue his development.
With Andrelton Simmons now in control of the shortstop position for Atlanta, what will be Ahmed’s future with the Braves?
Ahmed has a unique combination of speed and line drive power, much like Simmons. He’s a bit behind Simmons defensively, but that’s more because Simmons is so excellent in the field compared to just about everyone else in baseball.
Ahmed plays very well at short, with a solid arm and good range. He can also play second, and with his height there’s even been talk of him playing a bit at third. So there is versatility there for Ahmed to be part of the Atlanta roster in some shape, form or fashion.
If Ahmed goes to Mississippi and plays well, he could make an argument that he’ll be ready for some role in the big leagues as early as late 2013. He won’t be handed a starting job, but if the Braves need another infielder and Ahmed has done well in Double-A, he could get the chance.
A repeat of his 2012 numbers in the Southern League would only increase Ahmed’s value moving forward, and good middle infielders with solid offensive potential usually have decent value. So as long as Simmons proves he’s the shortstop of the future and does not take a step back in his first full season in Atlanta, Ahmed could be somewhat expendable.
If Dan Uggla rebuilds his value, the Braves could decide to move him in a trade and give Ahmed a chance at second base. There’s also the chance of Ahmed moving to the outfield, as the Braves seem to never stop looking for help in left field.
But at the least, Ahmed could provide significant value to the Braves in the form of a super utility man. His speed is also of use to Atlanta, as the Braves always need additional players that can steal a base.
Ahmed is a Jeff Blauser-like player with better speed. He doesn’t have much power – maybe the potential to hit 10 in a full season in the big leagues. But he’s going to have doubles and steal bases. Ahmed might be a pretty decent number two hitter in a lineup, if he’s not leading off.
Ahmed is going to be a big leaguer. This season will prove whether he has a shot to become a starter or simply be a reserve. But either way, it looks like the Braves have a solid prospect in the former Connecticut Huskie shortstop.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on twitter @BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.