Ahmed Has Come A Long Way

LYNCHBURG, VA - The Lynchburg Hillcats have had a phenomenal season, culminating in a Carolina League Championship. Shortstop Nick Ahmed was not only one of the main catalysts all season, he was a big reason why they won it all on Wednesday.

"Offensively, I've been trying to stay consistent," Ahmed said before the final game. "I am trying to be as balanced as I possibly can at the plate and take the best swings that I can to try to get a hit.

"I see my work pay off every single day. It's a process but you show up to the park, get better every day and the results are there."

He finished his first full season hitting .269 with 36 doubles and 40 stolen bases. However, he was equally as impressive on the defensive side too.

"Defensively it has been going pretty good," he said. "I've been playing shortstop every day and with a bunch of different second basemen since Tommy La Stella got hurt. It's been a little bit of a transition playing with those different guys but it is still going pretty well.

"There's always stuff to improve on; you can always be more consistent in every aspect of the game. It's a game of repetition so I try to go out and take my repetitions in pregame seriously and in everything that I do."

Hitting .277 in the second half [as opposed to his .261 average before the break] and chipping in with a four-hit game in Wednesday's championship clincher, it's his offensive progress that really has stood out.

"You are always trying to make changes and you're never going to have a perfect swing," he said. "Pitchers are making adjustments constantly and as a hitter you have to make adjustments as well.

"To me one of the highlights of the season was clinching the first half at home was pretty cool; we had a double-header at home. I don't think that any of us had any idea that we could clinch that night. We won the first game of that double header and then won the second half; so that was a pretty fun night."

Hillcats hitting coach Bobby Moore has been blown away with Ahmed's improvement and willingness to learn. He has high hopes for Ahmed in his career in baseball and is ready to see him play at the next level.

"His improvement goes without saying, hitting the ball the other way," Moore said. "This guy has been working hard every day. The first month or so he was all pull, pull, pull.

"Getting him to understand the importance of using the whole field where they can't defend you and that's been his plus, is hitting the ball the opposite way; right center field and right field, in the gap. He's been staying on the ball longer and hitting it where it's pitched.

"Defensively he has just been steady all year. I mean making plays in the six hole, making plays up the middle, coming in and going out. He's just been outstanding. I mean you can always improve but there's not much more improvement he can do."

Though Ahmed finished the season with 26 errors, second highest on the team behind Edward Salcedo [42], his coaches caution anyone to simply go by the statistics.

"He is getting to a lot of balls other guys can't get to and its causing him to get an error," Moore said. "It gets ruled an error but probably if someone else was playing out there it would be a base hit to the outfield.

"I think that's why a lot of errors come across is because he is getting to a lot of balls other shortstops can't get to. I think he is learning as a player; he's learning how to play the game as a professional. He has always had the ability and the tools but just fine tuning it and learning more about the game it just helps him."

Still more than a couple of levels away from the big leagues, few have any doubt that Ahmed has the talent to take him to the game's highest level.

"I see him going to the major league; there is no doubt for me," Moore continued. "I think if he can't play shortstop then they will find a place for him because he's an athlete and a hard worker in the aspects of hitting so he will just take off from there."

Among the people that have been more than impressed with Ahmed's progress this season is none other than the Hillcats manager Luis Salazar.

"The guy has really opened up his swing," Salazar said. "Now he's got the knowledge to hit the ball the other way and its starting to pay off for him. In the beginning of the season he was trying to be a power hitter and pull every pitch.

"He didn't realize that in this game you have to use the whole field, especially when you play shortstop. He needs to work on his bunting a little more. He's been working well at taking some pitches to walk and steal some bases.

"Defensively, in my opinion he's one of the best shortstops that we have in the league. He has been outstanding for us and the only area that he needs to work on is cutting down his swing.

"Once he does that he is going to be very hard to compete with. He knows how to steal bases; he's a very effective base runner and he knows the game very well. He's one of those guys at shortstop that goes out there and leaves it all on the line and he's the you want them to hit the ball to."

Showing some offensive punch and some tangible defensive abilities, Salazar believes it's his intangibles that will help him bring his entire game together as he continues to develop.

"He can go anywhere and handle things on his own," Salazar said. "He's ready to go and he's going to move fast in the organization because his work ethic is outstanding. He comes to play every day.

"He's one of the guys you really like to have on the team because he's very coach-able and he tries to learn every aspect of the game. When you see that in a young talent like he has you know he's going to be right up there in the big leagues very soon."


Atlanta Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"Offensively, I've been trying to stay consistent,\" Ahmed said before the final game. \"I am trying to be as balanced as I possibly can at the plate and take the best swings that I can to try to get a hit.
\r\n
\r\n\"I see my work pay off every single day. It's a process but you show up to the park, get better every day and the results are there.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe finished his first full season hitting .269 with 36 doubles and 40 stolen bases. However, he was equally as impressive on the defensive side too.
\r\n
\r\n\"Defensively it has been going pretty good,\" he said. \"I've been playing shortstop every day and with a bunch of different second basemen since Tommy La Stella got hurt. It's been a little bit of a transition playing with those different guys but it is still going pretty well.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's always stuff to improve on; you can always be more consistent in every aspect of the game. It's a game of repetition so I try to go out and take my repetitions in pregame seriously and in everything that I do.\"
\r\n
\r\nHitting .277 in the second half [as opposed to his .261 average before the break] and chipping in with a four-hit game in Wednesday's championship clincher, it's his offensive progress that really has stood out.
\r\n
\r\n\"You are always trying to make changes and you're never going to have a perfect swing,\" he said. \"Pitchers are making adjustments constantly and as a hitter you have to make adjustments as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"To me one of the highlights of the season was clinching the first half at home was pretty cool; we had a double-header at home. I don't think that any of us had any idea that we could clinch that night. We won the first game of that double header and then won the second half; so that was a pretty fun night.\"
\r\n
\r\nHillcats hitting coach Bobby Moore has been blown away with Ahmed's improvement and willingness to learn. He has high hopes for Ahmed in his career in baseball and is ready to see him play at the next level.
\r\n
\r\n\"His improvement goes without saying, hitting the ball the other way,\" Moore said. \"This guy has been working hard every day. The first month or so he was all pull, pull, pull.
\r\n
\r\n\"Getting him to understand the importance of using the whole field where they can't defend you and that's been his plus, is hitting the ball the opposite way; right center field and right field, in the gap. He's been staying on the ball longer and hitting it where it's pitched.
\r\n
\r\n\"Defensively he has just been steady all year. I mean making plays in the six hole, making plays up the middle, coming in and going out. He's just been outstanding. I mean you can always improve but there's not much more improvement he can do.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough Ahmed finished the season with 26 errors, second highest on the team behind Edward Salcedo [42], his coaches caution anyone to simply go by the statistics.
\r\n
\r\n\"He is getting to a lot of balls other guys can't get to and its causing him to get an error,\" Moore said. \"It gets ruled an error but probably if someone else was playing out there it would be a base hit to the outfield.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think that's why a lot of errors come across is because he is getting to a lot of balls other shortstops can't get to. I think he is learning as a player; he's learning how to play the game as a professional. He has always had the ability and the tools but just fine tuning it and learning more about the game it just helps him.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill more than a couple of levels away from the big leagues, few have any doubt that Ahmed has the talent to take him to the game's highest level.
\r\n
\r\n\"I see him going to the major league; there is no doubt for me,\" Moore continued. \"I think if he can't play shortstop then they will find a place for him because he's an athlete and a hard worker in the aspects of hitting so he will just take off from there.\"
\r\n
\r\nAmong the people that have been more than impressed with Ahmed's progress this season is none other than the Hillcats manager Luis Salazar.
\r\n
\r\n\"The guy has really opened up his swing,\" Salazar said. \"Now he's got the knowledge to hit the ball the other way and its starting to pay off for him. In the beginning of the season he was trying to be a power hitter and pull every pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"He didn't realize that in this game you have to use the whole field, especially when you play shortstop. He needs to work on his bunting a little more. He's been working well at taking some pitches to walk and steal some bases.
\r\n
\r\n\"Defensively, in my opinion he's one of the best shortstops that we have in the league. He has been outstanding for us and the only area that he needs to work on is cutting down his swing.
\r\n
\r\n\"Once he does that he is going to be very hard to compete with. He knows how to steal bases; he's a very effective base runner and he knows the game very well. He's one of those guys at shortstop that goes out there and leaves it all on the line and he's the you want them to hit the ball to.\"
\r\n
\r\nShowing some offensive punch and some tangible defensive abilities, Salazar believes it's his intangibles that will help him bring his entire game together as he continues to develop.
\r\n
\r\n\"He can go anywhere and handle things on his own,\" Salazar said. \"He's ready to go and he's going to move fast in the organization because his work ethic is outstanding. He comes to play every day.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's one of the guys you really like to have on the team because he's very coach-able and he tries to learn every aspect of the game. When you see that in a young talent like he has you know he's going to be right up there in the big leagues very soon.\"
\r\n
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