The middle infield spots for the Arizona Diamondbacks are not an issue. Second baseman Chris Owings, who came up through their Minor League system, just finished his second season in the Majors. Shortstop Nick Ahmed, acquired in the Justin Upton trade, completed his rookie campaign in 2015. The organization beefed up its depth in the middle by taking shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first pick of the 2015 Draft. It was a no-brainer for the D-backs considering how much of a decorated collegiate career Swanson enjoyed.
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How he came into the organization: When you finish with the worst record in baseball, you should get an excellent player at the top of the Draft. That’s what the D-backs took with Swanson who was named the Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series in 2014. As a sophomore, he led Vanderbilt to the NCAA title by hitting .323 with five runs scored, three doubles and four stolen bases, helping the Commodores to their first championship. Swanson followed up that performance with an outstanding junior season in which he was named one of the four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s best collegiate player. He was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team after leading all players with four home runs while hitting .381 and scoring seven runs. It would be no repeat for Vanderbilt as the Commodores were defeated in the Championship Series by Virginia.
Minor League career: Swanson did not sign with the D-backs’ organization until deadline day, meaning had there been no contract by 4 PM EST on July 17th, he would have gone back into the Draft. A week later, Swanson’s professional career got off to a rocky start as he was hit in the face by a Yoan Lopez fastball during a simulated game, causing him to receive 14 stitches and delay his debut by two weeks. Once Swanson was cleared to return, he joined a stacked Hillsboro Hops team and helped them win the Northwest League Championship. He had 24 hits and 14 walks in 99 plate appearances. He also banged out 11 extra base hits with a home run, seven doubles and three triples.
Where he will be in 2016: Given that Swanson will turn 22 in February and his success with Hillsboro, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he will start the year with Double A Mobile. It would be hard to envision a leap up to the Majors next year but if he progresses enough, he will definitely be at Triple A Reno at some point next Summer. It will be difficult to tell what happens once Swanson is ready for the Majors as Ahmed is highly-thought of at shortstop. This is is the dilemma that Arizona will face at this time next year.