In 2008, Ahmed graduated from East Longmeadow High School in western Massachusetts. His career record was 21-3 on the mound. And he also starred in basketball. Plus, he was a National Honor Society member and graduated 17th in his class of 233.
Ahmed's mom, Jan, is a teacher and his dad, Mark, is an investment analyst. Both sets of great grandparents came to America from Italy through Ellis Island in New York.
Nick accepted a baseball scholarship to the University of Connecticut, majoring in sports management. He hit .326 in 51 games for the Huskies in 2011.
Ahmed's uncle, Raphael Cerrato, is the head baseball coach at the University of New Haven.
In the summer of 2010, Nick played for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League.
- In 2011, Nick got drafted by the Braves (see Transactions below).
Nick has an old-school approach to the game. He has a take-no-prisoners attitude and a tireless work ethic.
"There is definitely more to the game than just hitting. Defense. Baserunning. Being a good teammate," Ahmed said.
He has excellent makeup, drawing comparisons to former D'Backs shortstop John McDonald. They have similar skill sets.
"It's through the roof—excellent, excellent, excellent makeup,” Lynchburg Hillcats hitting coach Bobby Moore said in 2012. “The kid comes to work every day. If you tell him he does something good, he wants to do it better."
In 2012, Baseball America rated Ahmed as the 15th-best prospect in the Braves organization. He was at #11 in the winter before 2013 spring training. They had him at #18 in the spring of 2014.
And Nick broke into the Top 10 in 2015, at 10th-best after traded to the Diamondbacks organization.
In 2012, Nick led the Carolina League in runs (84), doubles (36), steals (40) and fielding percentage at shortstop (.963).
- When the D-backs called up Ahmed from Triple-A Reno on June 29, 2014 he texted Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella to share the news. Once La Stella heard, he reacted enthusiastically.
Ahmed had played the role of cheerleader when Atlanta recalled La Stella from Triple-A Gwinnett a month earlier. Three years after the Braves took both players in the 2011 draft, Ahmed and La Stella were both Major Leaguers.
"We're good buddies. We stay in touch. We talk hitting a lot," Ahmed said. "He was all excited for me, the same way I was for him when he got his callup."
They first made contact when the duo played together for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League in 2010. They crossed paths again during the 2011 NCAA tournament when La Stella's Coastal Carolina played Ahmed's UConn at the Clemson Regional.
They went their separate ways in 2011 when Ahmed went to Danville and La Stella played in Rome. But in 2012, they suited up again as teammates for Class A Advanced Lynchburg. But in 2013, the Braves sent Ahmed to Arizona as part of the seven-player blockbuster trade that brought Justin Upton to Atlanta.
Only six days removed from his Major League debut, Ahmed finally shared the diamond with La Stella again for the 2014 Fourth of July weekend at Turner Field.
"Living together and obviously staying in touch over the years, we've talked about this moment for a long time, playing against each other at the highest level," La Stella said. "It's pretty cool it's finally happening."
"It's going to be fun," Ahmed said. "When you get drafted, you always dream of playing for that organization in the big leagues. I always dreamed of playing here." (Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan, MLB.com, 7/5/2014)
"I always found the best way to coach Nick was to tell him, 'You can't,'" said Jim Penders, who coached Ahmed at UConn. "He'd want to know who said that, he'd show 'em."
July 2-4, 2016: Nick was on the paternity list. He and Amanda have two sons, Jackson and Cole.
CHARITY FOR THE DOMINICAN
Sept 19, 2018: The daily trek on foot by the women and children of El Mogote, Dominican Republic, takes 5 to 6 hours. Carrying pails as they navigate snaking dirt roads to the nearest water source, members of the 800-person day-laborer community fill those containers and head home in a cyclic mission built out of necessity but negated by the known contaminants in the very liquid intended to bring life to their shared agricultural village.
Located 60 kilometers northwest of the D-backs' Baseball Academy in Boca Chica, the D-backs are making yet another positive impact in the Dominican. And it's thanks to Nick Ahmed, his wife Amanda, and the Ahmed Family Double Play Fund. The fund provides basic living necessities for the impoverished in the United States and Dominican Republic—including the families in El Mogote.
The Ahmeds partnered with Striking Out Poverty, an initiative of the Phoenix-based international non-profit Food for the Hungry. They look to raise awareness and funds for a dual project in the Monte Plata province's community. Their aim is to make water more readily accessible and improve its quality—something most people in the world can easily take for granted with a simple spin of a faucet.
"The people in El Mogote don't have running water in the community," Nick said, "so the first project is creating a water infrastructure to bring the water closer to the residents' homes so they don't have to spend hours and hours each day fetching water that's not even drinkable. The second project is a water filtration system. So we'll have a spot centrally located in the community where they can all go and get clean drinking water, which will eliminate the kind of waterborne diseases that these people are unfortunately encountering."
The community of El Mogote in the Dominican Republic has roughly 230 families that struggle with a lack of safe drinking water and food. The number of MLB players looking to make a personal difference through Food for the Hungry's Striking Out Poverty initiative is on the rise. Former D-backs pitcher Chase Anderson, Cardinal Adam Wainwright, and the Athletics' Liam Hendriks also pledged to raise funds. So are Mariners outfielder Dee Gordon and Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco.
"The D-backs obviously have a connection to that country," said Nick, "and I've had so many teammates from that country here, it just made sense to help out. It's about improving their quality of life and getting them out of that cycle of poverty. Striking Out Poverty has identified a bunch of different communities that were in need through the connections they have down there. So we felt clean, running water was the No. 1 basic necessity to start. And after that, hopefully we can adopt that community next year and build some sort of agricultural system for them to improve their quality of food and have an opportunity to bring in some money for their families."
Milam Byers, Director of Sports Partnerships at Food for the Hungry, said: "Nick and his wife Amanda joined the Food for the Hungry family last year and have truly jumped in with both feet. We are continually thankful for their commitment to Striking Out Poverty, and we can't wait to see the life-changing difference that this campaign will bring to some of the hardest places in the Dominican Republic."
Planning a first trip to the Dominican this upcoming offseason through Food for the Hungry, the Ahmeds' Double Play Fund's roots began a year ago in July, after the birth of their son, Jackson. Also wanting to be proactive while weathering two stints on the disabled list last year, the infielder set up a pledge program dependent upon D-backs win tallies. With the team's success on the field en route to its first postseason appearance since 2011, the Ahmeds were able to build a worthy campaign in limited time during the second half of the season. This year, pledges center around Ahmed's hits.
"Baseball is Nick's passion," said Amanda Ahmed, "but for him to want to help others, mentor and just be able to give back. God's given us an amazing opportunity for him to play the game professionally, but we want to be able to do more than just play. That's where giving back comes in. It's been awesome watching him grow both on and off the field."
"Having kids puts things in perspective," Nick said. "Everyone in the world doesn't necessarily have the same blessings and opportunities we do, so just looking at our son and thinking about not being able to give him clean water to drink, or him getting diseases or not having enough food to give him to eat so he can grow and develop really hurt us. It made our hearts pretty heavy for the people going through something like that."
At this year's Evening on the Diamond, more than $750,000 was raised to help build food pantries in the most at-risk Arizona schools as part of the launch of the Pitch In to End Hunger program, in conjunction with St. Mary's Food Bank, to alleviate food insecurity for thousands of Arizona families.
For the Ahmeds, what started out as helping the local Kitchen on the Street provide food to needy Valley residents blossomed into a partnership along with the D-backs, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, and St. Mary's to unveil the first Pitch In to End Hunger food pantry at William Jack Elementary in Glendale earlier this season.
"We basically adopted a school with underprivileged kids and their families that don't have enough food, and built them a food pantry at the school so the kids can go in and grab food they need for themselves and their families at home," said Ahmed, about the storeroom that houses 10,000 tons of canned food and nonperishable items.
"It's a huge program that's going to do amazing things. The D-backs are as passionate as we are about it, and we are to going to help out in any way we can."
With 3,000 miles separating El Mogote from the Ahmeds' home in Nick's hometown of East Longmeadow, Mass., the infielder credits his parents and his faith as catalysts for his philanthropic efforts. (J Greene - Arizona Diamondbacks)
2020 Season: Statistically speaking, Slick Nick probably lost a step defensively in 2020. However, the 2020 season is one of oddness and small sample sizes. While there is no denying that Ahmed’s defense in the early going did not pass the eye test of being elite, his defense improved as the season wore on. By the end of the season, he was once again making the sorts of plays he was known for.
Whether his improvement later in the season is merely a product of sequencing, or it is a product of getting a slow start thanks to the aborted offseason, it is difficult to tell. Ahmed’s age would suggest he is due to lose a step, but his tireless work ethic gives reason to believe he might still have a couple of impressive defensive seasons in the tank.
At the plate, Ahmed has become a respectable hitting shortstop. In 2020, he marginally improved again to a 94 OPS+.
On the whole, Ahmed provided 1.6 bWAR/1.2 fWAR to the Diamondbacks in 2020. That rate of output left him only a bit off the pace from his previous two seasons. With a full season of games and a proper spring training unmarred by stoppages and pandemic concerns, it is not a stretch to imagine he could have managed another season in excess of 3.5 WAR. In a season marked by under-performance almost across the board for the Diamondbacks, Ahmed stood out as one of the exceptions. (James Attwood@JamesDAttwood - Dec 27, 2020)
2021 Season: After making noticeable, steady gains at the plate from 2016-2020, Ahmed’s bat fell off a cliff in 2021, dropping from a career high OPS+ of 97 in 2020, all the way down to 67 in 2021. Funnily, despite Ahmed’s dismal showing at the plate, offense league-wide was so far down in 2021, that Ahmed still managed to post positive offensive value. That came courtesy of his base running and positional adjustment. When it came to wins above average, Ahmed limped to a final tally of -0.9 WAA. About that base running though, here are a couple highlights of Ahmed using his speed to make things happen, even if one of them took a little help from Jarred Kelenic.
Unfortunately, Ahmed’s bat is not the only thing that took a step back in 2021. Ahmed’s previously stellar, highlight reel defense also lost some of its luster. That isn’t to say, that Ahmed was anything less than a fine defender. He simply no longer was quite to leather wizard that the world had come to know for the previous decade.
Ahmed’s four defensive runs saved in 1,028 innings for 2021 was the same number as he posted in only 484 innings in 2020, and not even in the same galaxy as the 28 he saved in 2018.
Still, despite appearing to have lost a half-step of range, Ahmed managed a fairly impressive highlight reel for 2021. Enjoy this show from an “aging shortstop who just might be on his last leg”. Arizona is so spoiled by this man’s glovework. Most baseball fans don’t get to watch this sort of thing day-in and day-out. A ho-hum play by this man, even if he isn’t quite the defender he once was, is still a play that 90% of most shortstops don’t make. Here’s a bit of defense porn.
Sadly, Ahmed’s season was (once again) cut short by a late-season injury. Given the state of the 2021 Diamondbacks, it might have been for the best for Geraldo Perdomo to get those final games at shortstop in 2021. Nick is not part of the next window of contention for this team. The young players getting some reps in a lost season likely serves this team better than another handful of defensive highlights in a 110-loss season. (James Attwood@JamesDAttwood - Dec 19, 2021)
2022 Season: Ahmed, a two-time Gold Glove winner, played in only 17 games.
June 2011: The Braves chose Ahmed in the second round, and he signed for a bonus of $417,600. Kevin Barry is the scout who signed Nick.
January 24, 2013: The Diamondbacks traded OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson to Atlanta; acquiring INF Martin Prado, RHP Randy Delgado, RHP Zeke Spruill, Ahmed, and INF-OF Brandon Drury.
Jan 12, 2018: Nick and the D-backs avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal.
Jan 11, 2019: Nick and the D-backs avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal.
Feb 10, 2020: Nick and the D-backs signed a contract extension. The four-year deal, which runs through 2023, calls for $32.5 million in guaranteed money, along with performance bonuses.
Ahmed will receive a $1.5 million signing bonus and a salary of $6 million in 2020, $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022, and $10 million in 2023. Ahmed was set to hit free agency following the 2020 season.