September 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Brandon Drury (62) hits a three run home run in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
It has been quite the month for Brandon Drury. When the Arizona Diamondbacks called up the rookie from Triple A Mobile at the beginning of September, many fans (including me) were excited to see how this top prospect we had heard so much about would fare against Major League pitching. After starting off with two hits in his first 12 at-bats, Drury seems to have adjusted quickly to the new level. He now has 12 hits in 40 at-bats, punctuated by a 7 for 15 series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he hit his first two big league home runs. With so many options in the infield, where does Drury fit in with the D-backs in 2016?
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The staff at Venomstrikes had a round table earlier in the month discussing if Nick Ahmed or Chris Owings would be traded this offseason. I came to the conclusion that if there was a deal, Ahmed would be the one on the move with Owings sliding over to shortstop until Dansby Swanson was ready. What I did not say was that this meant second base could become an open for competition for Drury and Aaron Hill, the latter whom I believe will still be on the roster by Opening Day. Although he was drafted and played a number of Minor League seasons as a third baseman, Drury has seen significant time at second. If a trade is in the works, there is no reason to believe he couldn’t do an adequate job there. If Drury wins the battle (assuming there would be one), Hill would resume the role as he has for this season, backing up both third and second.
In the event of everyone staying put, what about a competition in Spring Training where the loser gets sent down to the Minors? There has been a precedent set for that. When Owings and Didi Gregorius battled for the starting shortstop position in 2014, the latter was sent to Reno after Spring Training was complete. Keep in mind that Gregorius received over 400 plate appearances with the D-backs in 2013. There could be an open battle at third between Drury and Jake Lamb next Spring with the loser of that competition suffering the same fate as Didi. Or, what if there is another duel at shortstop, this time between Ahmed and Owings? As you can see, there are some intriguing possibilities and it is obvious some tough choices have to be made.
The last piece of this is that Drury starts 2016 in the Minors. That could happen if he struggles over this final stretch. With Ahmed out for perhaps the entire weekend, Drury has another three games to show he doesn’t need more Triple A reps. This final week of the season will set up some difficult decision-making that will start with the Winter Meetings.