Two years ago Brandon Drury was tossed in with four other players when the Atlanta Braves traded the Arizona Diamondbacks for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. A 13th-round draft pick out of Grants Pass High School in Grants Pass, Ore., Drury had only been a pro for a couple of years and spent most of that time in rookie and Low-A ball.
So the idea that he would be Arizona’s best get of the trade was probably inconceivable at the time.
“I was shocked when it happened,” Drury said. “All I knew was the Braves since I signed there at such a young age. Getting an opportunity with another team was definitely exciting.”
Of the other four players traded with Drury, two have already parted ways with the Diamondbacks. Randall Delgado and Nick Ahmed are still with the team and already appeared on the major league roster, but his .221 career-best batting average isn’t setting MLB on fire.
Former Grants Pass slugger Brandon Drury continues to mash. https://t.co/lElpBfenno
— Brandon Kamerman (@b_kamerman) June 3, 2015
Drury, on the other hand, is knocking the cover off the ball for the Double-A Mobile BayBears. Coming into the season as the No. 7-ranked minor league prospect for the Diamondbacks, the pressure was on for Drury to deliver. So far he’s done just that, batting .309 with one home run, one triple, 13 doubles and 28 RBIs.
Drury got a Double-A preview last year, getting called up for the final month of the season.
“It’s the same game,” Drury said. “It was nice to come up here and spend a month at this level and see what it was about. It’s the biggest jump, they say. Coming into this year I kind of knew what I was in for.”
Coming into Wednesday night, Drury is on a six game hitting streak and has hit successfully in nine of his last 10 games. And while he’s doing that, he’s also learning a new position. Drafted as a third baseman by the Braves, he played that same position with the Diamondbacks until this season. Arizona has decided to take a look at Drury at second base.
“I feel like I’m a guy with good feet,” Drury said. “If I can play more than one position and have my bat in the line up, I think it’s going to help the team.”
Help the team and help him rise up in the ranks of the Diamondbacks. Arizona doesn’t intend on letting Drury walk away either, keeping him on their 40-man roster this season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 21, 2015
“I keep working every day in the season and in the offseason,” Drury said. “I’m always in the cage and trying to figure everything out. You’re never going to figure it all out, but I’m going to do everything I can to be the most prepared I can be. If you hit, you’re going to find a spot. If you hit and play defense, you’re going to get there even quicker. But all that is out of my control.”
Drury isn’t the only top prospect tearing through the Southern League this season. Right-hander Aaron Blair is currently 5-2 with a 2.56 ERA. He’s won three straight decisions including a three-hit shutout over the Tennessee Smokies on May 28. Blair opened the season as the No. 3-ranked Diamondbacks prospect.
Braden Shipley isn’t having anywhere near as easy a time against the Southern League’s hitters. The No. 2-ranked prospect is 2-4 in 10 starts with a 4.78 ERA. He hasn’t picked up a win on the hill since April 22 and has given up five or more earned runs three times over the last month.
Mobile’s best hitter this season has been 24-year old Zach Borenstein. He’s batting .345 with an on-base-percentage of .423. He’s getting a good bead on the ball, but doesn’t have much power with just one home run, three triples, six doubles and 12 RBIs.
Power hitter Rudy Flores has been a strikeout machine, fanning 55 times in 183 at-bats. Catcher Ronnie Freeman is more disciplined with just nine strikeouts to go with his team-leading seven home runs, but his batting average is .247 so that’s pretty much all he’s doing.
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