Arizona Diamondbacks Managing Partner Ken Kendrick is disappointed that shortstop Stephen Drew has yet to return from an ankle injury he suffered almost a year ago.
Maybe Jake Elmore can help the franchise move on.
Elmore recently became just the fifth Pacific Coast League player since 2005 to make it into June with a .400 batting average. Most impressively, the 24-year-old boasts a .496 on-base percentage and has more walks (38) than strikeouts (22) for the Triple-A Reno Aces. He’s been a terror once he reaches base, swiping 18 bags in 22 attempts.
Elmore has had to be a fighter just to keep his major league dreams alive, but all the hard work might pay off with a promotion sometime this season.
After not receiving any offers from big-time Division I schools, Elmore played his first two years of college ball at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., leading the team to the National Junior College World Series appearance as a freshman in 2006.
Elmore was taken in the 48th round of the 2007 Draft by the (then) Florida Marlins, but chose to transfer to Arizona State, one of the top college baseball programs in the country. ASU recruiting coordinator Turtle Thomas had never seen Elmore play, but he liked what he had heard.
Elmore had a terrible year at ASU, hitting .111 in just 45 at bats. He shined when it counted, however, catching the eye of Diamondbacks’ scouts at ASU’s pro day. Again, despite never seeing him play in a game, the D-Backs drafted him in the 34th round of the 2008 Draft.
Maybe Ken Kendrick hasn’t gone out to Reno to watch Elmore play, either. If he had, maybe he wouldn’t be so concerned about Drew.
After two underwhelming years in Arizona’s organization, the team nearly released Elmore before the 2010 season. The decision to keep him appears to have paid off. Elmore moved from second base to shortstop this season and has impressed with the leather. He has also played third base and the outfield this season and even offers his services as an emergency catcher.
The D-Backs have platooned Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald at shortstop with Drew out of the picture. The veterans have both performed well, but the team may look to shake things up. Arizona is off to a 26-30 start after winning the National League West title last year.
Elmore, who turns 25 later this month, figures to make his major league debut this season at some point. For now, he’ll settle for a run at .400 in Reno.
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